Scale-ups are the new Qld priority

James Riley
Editorial Director

Helping startups to scale-up is one of the fresh priorities the Queensland state government has outlined as part of its new Advance Queensland blueprint, Building our Innovation Economy – Advance Queensland Strategy.

For the first time since announcing its $650 million Advance Queensland initiative in 2015, the Queensland government has formally drafted a document that sets out its innovation plan. Prior to this, the state had always provided piecemeal offerings of Advance Queensland policies.

Annastacia Palaszczuk: The new Advance Queensland innovation policy puts an emphasis on scale-ups

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the strategy, which is now open for public consultation, is part of the next steps of Advanced Queensland.

“When we started Advance Queensland, we recognised innovation as the vital economic driver that it is,” she said.

“Today 19.7 per cent of Australian startup founders are located in Queensland—more than Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia.

“We have successfully completed the startup phase. The next step is to scale-up, and that is what this strategy is all about.

Under the strategy, there are five priorities for Queensland government. These five priorities include:

  • Creating future jobs in areas such as robotics, industry 4.0, artificial intelligence, and autonomous systems in traditional sectors including agriculture, resources, and manufacturing, and encourage new industries based on existing state assets, such as biofutures;
  • Solving social and environmental challenges such as protecting the Great Barrier Reef, energy and water sustainability, improving healthcare, and responding to climate change by growing the state’s cleantech sector and supporting commercialisation of science that solve these problems;
  • Support regional areas to create new jobs, and attract and retain talent by improving internet connections in regional communities and through local partnerships;
  • Build a pipeline to support startups to launch, grow and go global and connect startups with talent and capital they need to grow; and
  • Support existing and new workers with new skills, including encouraging entrepreneurship among young people.

Under these priorities, the Queensland government has proposed the more immediate actions will include establishing an industry robotics cluster in mining, defence, and the environment; creating a $25 million co-investment fund together with the federal government and industry to support research; and develop a Queensland science strategy to examine the value and impact of Queensland science.

The Queensland government also plans to investigate the establishment of an AgTech Hub in regional Queensland; promote investment-ready Queensland startups and SMEs to international investors; and appoint an Entrepreneur-in-Residence to champion innovation in government and connect innovators with government.

Partnering with TAFE Queensland to support the uptake of new high-tech skills training and develop a Manufacturing Skills Implementation Plan are also on the state government’s immediate agenda.

Innovation Minister Kate Jones said the strategy was developed in consultation with local industry, academics and business identities.

“It gives us a blueprint to embrace advances in technology and use these to our advantage to create sustainable jobs growth and solve some of the biggest challenges facing our state in the future,” she said.

Following public consultation, the final strategy will be released later this year.
The draft comes as the Queensland government continues to grow its ICT supplier panel, with the addition of Queensland-based datacentre vendor NextDC.

The appointment by the CITEC, a division of the Queensland Government’s Department of Housing and Public Works would allow government departments and agencies to purchase datacentre services on-demand with NextDC.

NextDC chief of sales Adam Scully said the supplier procurement process – whether it’s state of federal government level – creates a level playing field for businesses.

“It’s not about creating an advantage, it creates opportunity. While there is definitely a process for procurement for government to follow, we see it as a positive,” he said.

“There are very clear requirements of what a provider like NextDC needs to meet. It gives us a guide of how we will engage in the process and how orders are dealt with.”

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