As Queenslanders prepare to head to the polls next Sunday for the state election, startups and entrepreneurs are hoping for an outcome that would see the next government continue with the supportive components of the Advance Queensland program.
The $420 million Advanced Queensland initiative was launched under the Palaszczuk government in July 2015.
It has seen the roll out of a broad series of programs, including giving startups more opportunity to work government departments to develop solutions, and encouraging international and interstate startups to relocate to Queensland under the Hot DesQ program.
“We’ve been extremely lucky to work with Advance Queensland and the Queensland Government, which have made startup a priority,” said Peta Ellis, CEO of Brisbane-based accelerator and co-working space River City Labs.
“What the government can do from here on is that as long as they continue to make startups a priority, then we’ll be good in hands.”
Ganemo group director and H2 Ventures mentor-in-residence Simran Gambhir said the Advance Queensland fund has been one of best things to happen to the startup sector in the state.
“The Queensland government has had a good start trying to spread the startup bug to regional areas and any new government should continue this focus,” he said.
“The numbers don’t lie – Queensland Innovation Minister Leeanne Enoch herself has said that 92 per cent of the state’s startups were generating export revenue. The government has managed to create a solid foundation for the startup sector to keep growing and it would be a shame to see any budget cuts post-election”.
Queensland has now overtaken Victoria in the percentage of new tech startups and now comes second behind New South Wales.
But in order for this growth to continue, there is plenty of pressure for the next government to build on the foundations that has been laid out to date.
For Mark Fletcher, CEO and co-founder of Cohort Go, he wants to see even more support for local startups and other SMEs win more government contracts.
“By providing a targeted quota for successful tenders by startups and SMEs the government could ensure they are at the forefront of helping our smaller companies scale faster,” he said.
“There are similar quotas in other markets and this has proven to be a successful venture. Startups are at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to funding and other resourcing, but often have better technology. Providing access to government contracts could underwrite a startup’s profitability, which in turn will help solve the funding disadvantage.”
Meanwhile, GO1.com CEO and co-founder Andrew Barnes said there needs to be accelerated effort to address the current talent problem.
“Efforts to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) must be accelerated as competition for talent between other states and territories, and internationally, is getting stiffer by the day.
“We have to instill entrepreneurship values from a young age and increase investment in tech education — especially supporting more programs to teach coding in schools and similar initiatives — so Queensland can be a ready source of skills and expertise in future.”