I AM CONFIDENT THAT 2017 WILL BE THE YEAR OF ACTION FOR AUSTRALIA, WHERE THERE IS MUCH LESS TALK ABOUT INNOVATION BY POLITICIANS AND CORPORATES AND A FAR GREATER FOCUS ON REAL INNOVATION OUTCOMES THAT DRIVE NEW SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC BENEFIT. WITH THIS CHANGE WILL BE A RECOGNITION THAT SMALL, AGILE ENTREPRENEURIAL BUSINESSES ARE OFTEN DRIVING INNOVATION AND PUSHING BOUNDARIES BECAUSE THEY BACK GREAT IDEAS WITH ACTION.

Companies or individuals cannot innovate until they back great ideas with great execution, and bring value and make a positive difference in people’s lives. Innovation is a mindset and attitude that is all encompassing for successful entrepreneurs – it pervades the cultural DNA of the company. Entrepreneurship is certainly thriving on the Sunshine Coast – a fact that is recognised by demographer Bernard Salt and futurist, VC, publisher Daniel Petrie.

The US Fortune 500 and most Australian corporates have already flipped their strategies to try and mimic lean startups by being more agile and customer centric – if that fails, their plan B is to acquire relevant startups for their innovation, IP, people and customer relationships. Beware complacent, arrogant incumbents – as described by Daniel Petrie, “disruptive innovation will eat your lunch”, and there are no national boundaries.

In this hotly contested field of innovation, leadership and entrepreneurship, the Sunshine Coast has a reputation for punching above its weight as demonstrated by these facts:

  • Smart 21 Award and game changer projects (being implemented – not talked about)
  • Seven of 32 Hackerthon awards to Sunshine Coast entrepreneurs
  • Two United States based startup companies have moved to the Sunshine Coast making the Innovation Centre and Spark Bureau their home base for the next six months to build their business.
  • After hosting the first Asia Pacific Startup Weekend (youth) in 2014, over 12 local Sunshine Coast schools (both public and private) have successfully embedded the lean startup framework into the classroom.
  • Sunshine Coast hosted the first national Young Innovators Day with Stockland, Code Club of Australia and USC (December 2016).
  • The Innovation Centre welcomed 21 new entrepreneurial members in 2016
  • Typefi Systems won the 2016 Small Business Exporter of the Year Award (National/State Export Awards) and has become a world-leading provider of automated publishing software.
  • IDcare is a global leader in cyber security response protocols.
  • Seven Innovation Centre entrepreneurs were nominated as finalists for various Sunshine Coast Business Awards including AusIDentities, Sunlife SuperFoods, Hive Haven, Italic, Innovate Media, Spare Harvest, TruTeq.
  • Daniel Proctor, Founder of Student WOW Card won the Sunshine Coast Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
  • USC engage lab, with expanding makerspace and prototyping capability
  • Innovation Centre secures commercialisation expert Dr Peter Isdale, AM as new Chairman
  • World class mentor panel and professional partnership are paying it forward for Innovation Centre members.
  • Spark Bureau and SunCentral have partnered to build a national smart city incubator/accelerator
  • Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson is guided by a Futures Board strong on commercial acumen and now has a highly capable economic development team with runs on the board.

Is it any wonder the Sunshine Coast has become a strong destination of choice for entrepreneurs and innovators? This title will only be strengthened by the following trends:

  • Increased numbers of resilient, home grown entrepreneurs like Schoolzine, FoodMatters, CloudDC, atmail, Concerotel and Retail Express with local HQ and a global customer base.
  • More baby boomer entrepreneurs and corporates selling up in the capital cities and backing or investing in local startups and high growth companies.
  • NBN rollout, 5G and other enabling technology will encourage more regional development centres/telecommuting and jobs transfer to this region.
  • Ten quality co-working options enticing more innovators out of the capital city hustle and grind.
  • USC continues to “rise and shine” with additional capability and impactful flagship areas.
  • A recognition by policy advisors that more conducive regional policy settings provide greater ROI.
  • New regional funding from AusIndustry and the Queensland Government’s Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation.
  • Seven high value industry sectors and game changer projects that will develop a $30 billion economy by 2033.
  • Strong local leadership and a reputation for being a collaborative, innovation hub.
  • The Innovation Centre is playing its part and since 2002 we’ve been home to over 165 startup and high growth businesses, creating over 720 jobs, 200 student placements and $60 million in economic value for the Sunshine Coast.
  • In 2017 the Innovation Centre will have its 15th anniversary and we’re excited to announce a new food industry accelerator program with funding from Advance Queensland and an exciting partnership with the Food and Agribusiness Network (FAN).
  • The accelerator program will assist up to 15 food entrepreneurs that are looking to scale their product regionally or nationally and helps them aggressively scale their business, grow their brand and develop a competitive business strategy.
  • The Sunshine Coast has an amazing entrepreneurial ecosystem and if your business needs to access the growing talent pool in the region, contact the Innovation Centre. Check out our programs and networking events and if we can’t assist we’ll direct you to the right area of expertise by completing the website contact form, visit www.innovationcentre.com.au
  • Innovation (new ideas successfully applied) is good for the dynamic Sunshine Coast – it helps boost and diversify the economy with increased employment, exports and a range of new opportunities.

Chief Executive Officer
Sunshine Coast Innovation Centre
innovationcentre.com.au