Beautiful one day, defined by innovation the next

Beautiful one day, defined by innovation the next

How the young innovator and startups space is growing in Queensland

Jonathan Nalder, Digital Queensland Community Champion

Everyone knows Sydney gets all the good startup programs and events. Well it is the financial capital for Australia. But for those who haven’t looked much past the harbour city, it’s time you knew what is happening in the fertile lands to the north.

As understanding grows that it is ‘enterprise’ skills and future-proof literacies that can set humans apart in an increasingly automated world, so too have opportunities to introduce them to young people gathered pace in Queensland, supported by initiatives like the Digital Queensland ‘Community Champions’ network. The Foundation for Young Australians has been doing extensive work towards this nationally through its ‘$20 Boss’ program and engaging ‘new work’ reports, and the Brisbane-based Future-U community has similarly been inspiring conversations with its ‘Future Literacies framework and community forums.

So what does this increased awareness look like in practice? Is it leading to practical outcomes for the young people who will be the ones adjusting most as up to 70% of Australian jobs are impacted by AI and robotics? And what does it say about how seriously Queensland is tackling this? You be the judge:

Formed in early 2017 as a systems-level approach to supporting innovation, the Gen[in] program is a consortium of over twenty Qld Universities, Government bodies and startup organisations. In this time it has already supported 20 events around the state and has now built to the stage of taking registrations for its free online course. This online first approach is Gen[in]’s way of ensuring that its goal of going straight to a global focus can be achieved, with young people around the state and even internationally able to access the expertise of the course’s top mentors and to compete for prizes.

North of Brisbane at the famed Fraser Coast, it is the region’s Libraries led by Information Services Librarian Kathy Shilvock who organised a recent Young Innovators forum to bring together local students, young adults and startup mentors to help kickstart an eco-system in that region. Two days of talks and hands-on experiences in Hervey Bay and Maryborough have led into an ongoing ‘hack-a-thon’ where participants progress through three rounds of iteration which lead up to winners being announced in October 2018.

Heading to the southern end of Queensland, we find another regional library supporting their youth in this space. The Gold Coast Libraries’ Emerging Creatives Bootcamp which features Tom Tilley of Triple J and numerous startup mentors to provide 15 to 24 year olds an intense but encouraging environment where their creativity can really shine.

Back to Brisbane, and we find a new startup space just across the river from the CBD giving young innovators a chance to grow their ideas. Self-funded by founder Daniel Ngo and opened in late 2017, Entrepreneur Haus aims to be ‘more than just a co-working space’, but to also provide the extra elements that young innovators need. This community-focused approach is already seeing it become a hub for startups that encompasses mentoring and guided planning that can help young innovators avoid the early mistakes many often make.
Beyond these, take a look also at sessions like these being offered by Taj Pabari’s Fiftysix Creations, BOP Industries (run by 17 year old Scott Millar), Startup Apprentice, Edugrowth and the local Startup Weekends like this one supported by Creative Enterprise Australia – and you’ll see how strong the support for bringing enterprise skills to the problem-solvers of tomorrow has become.

Jonathan Nalder is the Founder of Future-U