All the entrepreneurial spirit under the sun – together in one room

Queensland’s business and entrepreneurial ecosystem has changed “dramatically” in recent years, says InQueensland business editor and 40 Under 40 Awards judge John McCarthy.

 Brisbane has recorded a big jump in visitors

Brisbane has recorded a big jump in visitors

The past decade has seen big changes in Queensland’s business landscape. While the resources sector was traditionally a dominant player, today tech companies are proliferating and there is a culture of entrepreneurship that has been embraced by the state’s young leaders.

McCarthy said companies such as Ludo Studios and Tritium, “show that we can star on the world stage” in areas outside of mining.

“There is some brilliant work going on here with the likes of Octopus Deploy, Technology One, Swyftx and Go1,” he said.

“Queensland has changed dramatically in recent years. There has been such a huge influx of people and they have brought new ideas, particularly in areas like technology and biotech.”

One factor, he said, that is contributing to the state’s vibrancy and potential for innovation is the number of startups being launched by women.

“For many of the women who are doing great things, I think it’s because they faced a lack of support for their ideas in the mainstream corporate area,” he said.

More than half of the nominees in this year’s inaugural 40 Under 40 Awards are women. The celebration of the state’s young leaders and entrepreneurs will take place at a gala event on July 20 at Brisbane Powerhouse when the category winners will be announced.

Another factor, McCarthy suggested, has been the freedom that comes with being outside the orbit of Melbourne and Sydney’s hyper-competitive business landscape, allowing would-be entrepreneurs to “do their own thing”.

“Being away from the bigger capitals may have meant there was no one to tell them they couldn’t do something,” he said.

“As entrepreneurs, it’s likely in many cases that they didn’t have to follow the same rules and weren’t constricted by expected profit outlooks. They just kept working away at it until people started to take notice.

“There has also been such a huge influx of people [to the state] and they have brought new ideas, particularly in areas like technology and biotech.”

In these areas, young entrepreneurs are visibly leading the way and making a substantial impact.

“Queensland has got a very strong tech sector,” McCarthy said.

“Look at VALD, what a great example of having an idea and just going for it… And Clipchamp which was bought out by Microsoft… And then there are Hypersonix, Arkose Labs and Floodmapp.”

This generation of business people is also looking beyond the balance sheet to contribute and make a positive social or environmental impact.

“There is plenty of good work going in the NDIS. It’s a boom area right now and Brisbane companies are really getting in there,” he said.

The role of educational institutions and research centres in the state’s emerging and traditional industries, McCarthy said, has been “huge”.

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“How could you not applaud some of the companies that have been spun out of UQ’s work through its commercialisation company UniQuest?” he said.

“Everything from hypersonic rockets to pain medication to breakthroughs in agricultural management. I am also in awe of some of the work emerging from QIMR Berghofer.”

McCarthy noted that there were some pivotal points in the last decade which had helped innovation to flourish.

“There has to be some credit given to the State Government and its financial help for some of the start-ups and spending the money to have companies like Virgin base themselves here,” he said.

“Then there were people like Steve Baxter and his venture capital company which have helped enormously.

“Also, when the last mining boom faded there seemed to be a transition. Parents told their kids to forget about mining as a career.

“That’s starting to change now as more technology is used in mining. It’s a very high-tech business now.”

The 40 Under 40 Awards are presented by InQueensland and The Weekend Edition.

Alumni and award winners will be celebrated at a gala night on July 20 at Brisbane Powerhouse, with the event providing a superb opportunity to network with the state’s best and brightest. The ticket price includes a 3-course dinner and premium beverages.

Tickets are on sale now.

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