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Queensland’s Startup Opportunities and Advantages

Queensland is continuing to position itself as a startup hub, recently announcing an Australian-first program to attract successful international and interstate startups via Hot DesQ funding as part of the $405 million whole-of-government Advance Queensland initiative. With a sprawling startup network spanning Cairns to Townsville to Brisbane and the Gold Coast, how can Queensland continue to grow its startup ecosystem without compromising its regional identity and strengths?

Our 8th Early-Stage Innovation Briefing was focused on ‘Queensland’s Startup Opportunities and Advantages’. Held at KPMG Australia’s Brisbane offices, attendees were invited to discuss the unique proposition which Queensland’s startup ecosystem provides entrepreneurs, accelerators and incubators. An open, two-way forum was created between the audience and the panellists as they dove into the impact of the Advance Queensland Initiative (announced in 2015) on startups in Queensland’s startup community and discussed which industry verticals were beginning to emerge as areas of competitive advantage for Queensland.

Here’s a quick recap of how the evening unfolded:

Startup Panel

The startup panelists included Sarah Mak (Co-Founder at Folktale), Paul Moynagh (Co-Founder at Fewzion), Philip Livingston (Founder and Managing Director at Redback Technologies) and Sujata Karandikar (Co-Founder at Unscrabble). The panel was moderated by Vicky Lay, Managing Director at Artesian.

The startup panel discussed the role of the Queensland government in helping startups grow within the unique environment of Queensland’s regional hubs as well as the increasingly important support that universities, accelerators and incubators have on the region’s startup ecosystem. The conversation focussed on the need for government support at all three levels (Local, Federal and particularly State) to give assistance to startups not only through funding via the Advance Queensland Initiative but also through commercial connectivity, allowing entrepreneurs to scale their businesses. In addition, the panellists spoke about the risk averse nature of Australian investors and their subsequent effect on startups, highlighting the difficulty of sourcing risk capital in Australia as opposed to the US, where investors have a higher risk appetite for startup investments.

An interesting takeaway from the panel centred on the need for startups to differentiate between entrepreneurship and commercialisation as some entrepreneurs continue to adopt business models which do not necessarily scale globally. The panel finished their discussion talking about the key verticals Queensland should leverage including AgTech, HealthTech, BioTech, social consumer opportunities and energy markets.

Corporate Panel

The corporate panelists included Troy Haines (CEO at theSPACE Australasia), Zach Johnson (Co-Founder and Managing Director at SPARK BUREAU), David Masefield (Director at Startup Toowoomba and Co-Founder at Canvas Coworking) and Bernie Woodcroft (Director at iLab). The panel was moderated by Lisa Jenkinson, Head of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at KPMG Queensland.

The corporate panel reiterated the need for government support towards the startup sector not only as a regulator but also as a customer  – the Queensland State being uniquely reliant on Government spending for a high proportion of its economic output. The potential risks of government in engaging with startups in comparison to large corporates were explored and contrasting to the previous panel, it was agreed all round that accelerators and incubators had been strong benefactors of recent Advance Queensland initiatives. Another key theme that was heavily discussed by the panel was the need to educate the High Net Worth investors within the Queensland region to create a more supportive angel network in which to fill the apparent funding gap.

We thank all participants for their involvement and look forward to our next Early Stage Innovation Briefing in Sydney this April.

Artesian & KPMG Early-Stage Innovation Briefings are special events reserved for Artesian Venture Capital Fund investors only. To find more about how you can become an investor and gain access to exclusive events and research, visit our product page or request a follow up.

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