Fifth Queensland Chief Entrepreneur appointed

Brandon How

Regional businesswoman and Order of Australia recipient Julia Spicer has been named Queensland’s new Chief Entrepreneur, replacing incumbent chief Wayne Gerard in the voluntary role.

Ms Spicer, who is the fifth Chief Entrepreneur to be appointed since the government role was launched 2016, will take over from Mr Gerard when he finishes his 18-month stint at the beginning of December. understands the expected tenure of the Chief Entrepreneur is approximately 18 months, however this is at the discretion of the incumbent as the role is unpaid.

Julie Spicer with incumbent chief entrepreneur Wayne Gerard. Image: Twitter

Former Chief Entrepreneurs Mark Sowerby and Steve Baxter each served for around a year, while Leanne Kemp served in the role for more than two years.

In a statement released by the state government, Mr Gerard said he is “excited to hand over the reins to Julia Spicer who brings a great regional innovation perspective and experience to the role”.

“Julia’s collaboration skills will unlock numerous opportunities for Queensland’s entrepreneurs and innovators,” Mr Gerard said.

Ms Spicer comes to the role at the recommendation of the state’s Innovation minister Stirling Hinchliffe, having sat on the government’s Innovation Advisory Council since April. She has also been the Global Entrepreneurship Network Australia chair since August.

Ms Spicer is the director of Engage and Create Consulting, a firm she founded in December 2012, and has also served as the director of office space provider Goondiwindi Business Hub since December 2013.

In January, Ms Spicer received a Medal of the Order of Australia in acknowledgement of her service to regional and rural communities.

Announcing the appointment in a speech to the Queensland Parliament on Wednesday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk highlighted Ms Spicer’s achievements.

“Mrs Spicer has extensive experience in Queensland’s business and innovation sectors. She has founded and grown several successful regional businesses with her current hometown of Goondiwindi and has been a champion for startup and business entrepreneurship in rural, regional, and remote communities,” she told Parliament.

Innovation minister Stirling Hinchcliffe similarly noted that “Julia Spicer’s impressive career in rural, regional and remote business start-ups makes her an excellent choice for Queensland’s next Chief Entrepreneur”.

“We want to tap into innovation and entrepreneurship in regional Queensland and deliver opportunities to grow ideas, create jobs and prosper in the emerging global future economy,” he said.

Ms Palaszczuk thanked Mr Gerard, who is also the co-founder and chief executive of software-as-a-service firm RedEye, for his 18 months of service in the voluntary role.

“Wayne was instrumental in developing our new $142 million innovation roadmap we launched this year which sets out our innovation priorities in the lead up to the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic games,” she said.

“He also set up the innovation advisory council, and while Wayne’s time as chief entrepreneur is coming to an end, he will continue to provide his valuable experience on the Brsibane 2032 legacy committee.”

In July, the Queensland state government released its 10-year innovation roadmap alongside an additional $142 million, predominantly to support new and existing programs through the Advance Queensland initiative.

Before Mr Gerard was appointed in 2021, the position was vacant for around half a year, fueling speculation that the role of the chief entrepreneur would be scrapped and replaced by an advisory council.

Former chief entrepreneur Steve Baxter in March 2021 claimed that “[the government will] keep the office there, put another person in there for a year until the press dies down and then they’ll quietly shutter it. Everything they’ve done on the ground is consistent with that story.”

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