Start-ups. Contributed

Regional start-up scene explodes, experts say

AUSTRALIA may still be behind Europe and the US when it comes to start-ups, but experts say we're pedalling hard to get into the arena with the big boys.  

Samuel Pavin, marketing lead at ilab, UQ's start-up accelerator, said the industry was in a growth phase nationally, but a surprising surge had been pinpointed to regional hubs.   

"In the past four years the change of the start-up landscape has been massive, especially in regional areas where the scene has literally exploded," Mr Pavin said.   


"During my talks to people in areas such as Rockhampton and Maryborough I hear about hubs of people using technology to get together and it's helped the entire community grow which is amazing to see.   

Mr Pavin said the Australian start-up ecosystem and support network was maturing, and while the hype and spotlight had been heavily focused on Sydney and Melbourne, Queenslanders were quietly toiling away and creating amazing businesses.  

"Overall Australia is making more and more noise on the international scene which will encourage experienced entrepreneurs to visit, and that's what you need; some external prospective to help the start-up ecosystem mature," he said.  

Dr Sarel Gronum lectures in innovation leadership and entrepreneurship at UQ, and said there were indications the ecosystem was starting to mature but more government and industry support was needed.   

More is needed to be done to encourage angel and seed investors to support start-ups and businesses early in their development because there were not a lot of them around at the moment, he said.  

"But there seems to be more and more US venture capitalist firms seeing the Australian start-up landscape and ecosystem as a fertile area for them to invest in," he said.   

"Something we're also seeing is maturing startups becoming venture capitalist themselves so we're getting this reinvestment cycle."  

Mr Gronum said importantly, there needed to be a mindset change whereby failures were celebrated and seen as a good thing because a shot at goal that misses isn't a failure, but an attempt at success.  

Chad Renando, a PhD student at the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba, is currently researching the role of innovation hubs in developing resilience in entrepreneurs and regional communities.  

Mr Renando said he was committed to helping regions focus on the core thing they had to offer to attract outside investment, and then encourage them to get smarter with how they pooled resources to make it happen.  

"It's about getting the entire community behind the concept, from local chambers of commerce to councils," he said. 

"Regions that are best at supporting innovation hubs will thrive and those that neglect them or leave it to someone else will fail."  

Mr Renando was confident that in 10 years' time there would be no such thing as start-ups because in the future all businesses will be started in this way and the concept will become the norm.   

Sippy Downs-based Dr Gabrielle Parle, from the University of the Sunshine Coast, said that for a start-up to be successful the entrepreuners behind it must "keep an eye on the numbers because they won't take care of themselves, and I've seen so many people fail because they ignore the finances and it's a real pity".  

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News Corp Australia

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