Words by Leanne Kemp, Queensland Chief Entrepreneur
Given we’re #goodtogo, I just smashed out a five-day visit to South West Queensland to listen and meet with stakeholders from local government, innovative startups and scaleups.
The towns on this visit included Charleville, Roma, St George, Goondiwindi and Toowoomba. Each of these great towns is totally unique and it was awesome to see a large number of tourists heading out to Queensland and “buying local”.
I’ve now returned to the Office and wanted to share my top picks from each of the towns visited – I think you’ll be impressed at some of the awesome innovations being developed right here in rural Queensland.
Charleville – Strength in leadership and determination to bring tourism and innovation together. What a town! Charleville may be small with a population of around 3,000 people, but the Astro Dome, the astronomy learning centre and the Indigenous night sky dreaming at Cosmos Centre puts an inspired sense of innovation at the core of the town. Also a year ago I visited Charleville’s Royal Flying Doctor Service; a year on the Mayor and the team have gone one step further and built a brand new WWII Centre. The Centre will also house a collaboration space for locals to come and engage and explore science and history in one of the most exciting new venues in out west.
Roma –Desq just might be the most exciting co-working space I have seen this year! Desq puts collaboration at the core of what they do. State of the art fibre optics to the premises, a “work like a local” soft landing program where the female founded team take entrepreneurs and businesses to the best (secret) coffee shops in town and get you access to the gym, networking parties, and the innovation ecosystem. Impressive work from a female founded team that just “get it”. A brilliant hub in the heart of Roma available to any innovator travelling to and through Roma.
St George – Mr Andrew “farmpreuner” Sevil! Cotton one day, LoRaWAN the next! Now this guy, a second generation farmer, built a highly specified LoRaWAN network on his farm at his own cost and plugged it into the latest IoT AgTech devices on the planet. What started out as a hobby for Andrew is potentially something more... especially if universities or techies want to take the next step in developing in-field technologies. And the local council is super supportive too and embarking on a new digital strategy for citizens. Watch this space!
Goondiwindi – or should I say Goodiwowee! Oh my, AlgaePharm (love the name!), literally a football field filled with luscious green algae. This wasn’t just any old swamp, but filled with goodness, like spirulina and Omega3, I could have bathed in it. But seriously “Gundy” is onto something. Family farms are diversifying their traditional businesses in grain, cotton and beef and embracing new technologies and future foods. I met whizz AI and Blockchain company InFarm too who understand the value of tracing high quality food products from paddock to plate. I also met GoannaAg, a leading IoT and data company manufacturing tech on site for farmers, and scaling-up too I might add. This town has it all, and the mindset to achieve greatness through the support and stewardship of the team at Engage and Create!
Toowoomba – I kicked off the last day of the week at Queensland’s first fully female, regionally focussed growth incubator Flair at Canvas Co-working. The cohort was super impressive consisting of these legends: Healthy Little Eaters (Kate Pearce from Townsville), My Felt Lady (Candice Mason from Chinchilla), Wardrobe Markets (Natalie D'Alessandro from Burleigh Heads), Ocean Orchards (Anna Hendra from Nambour), Phyto (Ashley Jubinville from Mooloolaba), Pleasant State (Ami Bateman and Sian Murray from Maroochydore), Shiny Happy Art (Anna Battle from Toowoomba), Stored Naturally (Wendy Allen and Helen Reynolds from Highfields), The Golden Bone Bakery (Katharina von Heusinger from Ipswich). I will be back to check on their progress before the showcase and finale in December. Read more about the chort here from startup coach Joy Taylor, and the great work Toowoomba is doing with business with TSBE here.