More than $60 million in private funding will be made available to businesses looking to start up or scale up on the Gold Coast.
The opportunity for emerging entrepreneurs is part of a citywide strategy to support new business, the Gold Coast Innovation Hub says on Wednesday.
Founded in 2017 by former Australian CEO of the Year and Opmantek chairman Danny Maher, in conjunction with community and government leaders, the Hub gives these entrepreneurs access to world-class advice and expertise, and investment to fast track their business goals.
The $62 million comes on top of $1.8 million delivered by the Queensland government through its Advanced Queensland Advancing Regional Innovation Program, and support from the City of Gold Coast.
Up to $2 million will given to companies that are nominated for an acceleration program. These are startup companies that need to be fast-tracked to commercialisation.
At least $20 million will be allocated to other startup companies to commercialise their products or ideas, and $40 million will be invested in companies aiming to scale up.
"These are companies that are already successful. They already have successful leaders but they may need to change products, they may need to take what they have and put it in the cloud, they may need to take something based on hardware and make it a software solution, they may need to access new markets or to create a global distribution model," Maher says.
Companies that join the Hub will have access to education and mentoring as well as additional customers and distribution channels.
Hub CEO Sharon Hunneybell says the funds will further cement the Gold Coast's growing reputation as an innovation city.
"The Gold Coast has always been a hotbed for entrepreneurship," Hunneybell says.
"People come here for the lifestyle and realise there aren't the job opportunities, so they create the jobs. What we want to do is to help those people establish more viable businesses, larger businesses that employ more people, and have an international or national reach."
Online businesses based on the Gold Coast have another advantage. The council-owned fibre network, installed ahead of the Commonwealth Games, provides internet speeds up to ten times faster than the NBN.
"It's easier than ever before to run a business with an online component. Being in a regional city is no longer a barrier to how wide your audience can be and how many customers you have, or where your customers are," Hunneybell says.
The innovation hub currently has 60 to 70 businesses in co-working spaces from Coomera in the north to Tweed Heads in northern NSW. Up to 2000 people have registered for placement in a soon-to-be created central co-working space. Additional spaces will be created as more companies join the Hub.
Ben Tattersfield, CEO of Jetson Industries, joined the Hub in 2017 after five years of "tinkering in his garage".
Jetson is collaborating with the world's leading cricket ball manufacturer, Kookaburra, to produce a smart cricket ball. A 20mm device inserted into the core of a cricket ball is packed sensors to capture data on force, speed, direction and spin. The information is immediately available to the player, coaches and fans.
Tattersfield says advice from business leaders such as Maher, who is chairman of software company Opmantek, has been invaluable.
"It's been brilliant for people like me, who are building something in their garage but want to grow a proper business," Tattersfield says.
"The introductions and opportunities we've got have been amazing."
Call centre software company CyTrack is one of the Hub's fast-growing scale up businesses. CyTrack started in 1995 and now delivers software solutions to more than 30 countries from its headquarters on the Gold Coast. Panasonic recently contracted CyTrack as its sole software solution in the US.
Organisations wishing to become Hub members or collaborators can register at www.gchub.com.au.
AAP, in collaboration with the City of Gold Coast and Gold Coast Tourism, is publishing a range of newsworthy content in the lead-up to the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Australian Associated Press