Taking Queensland’s regional smarts to the world

Stuart Mason

Late last year, Julia Spicer became the country’s first chief entrepreneur to be based outside of a capital city. 

Ms Spicer, who runs Engage & Create Consulting and The Goondiwindi Business Hub, was named Queensland’s chief entrepreneur in November, and aims to apply her passion for regional innovation to the role.

The chief entrepreneur’s role is to be the “flag bearer” for innovation and entrepreneurship in the state, helping founders get startups off the ground, working with government and other stakeholders to identify problems to be solved and connecting talent to companies.

After six months in the job, Ms Spicer speaks with InnovationAus.com editorial director James Riley on the Commercial Disco podcast about regional entrepreneurship, how Queensland can harness its strengths and the importance of not being afraid to fail.

Ms Spicer is the first chief entrepreneur to be based outside of south-east Queensland and Brisbane, and aims to bring this focus to her time in the role.

“Each of the four chiefs before me have brought their priorities or their interests, so obviously the regions are one of mine,” Ms Spicer told the Commercial Disco.

“We’ve got opportunities to grow new industries, we’ve got opportunities to have a skilled workforce — and all across Queensland that’s really important. This is an advocacy and championing role really around looking at what we in business and innovation need across Queensland.”

Common issues for startups, such as finding talent or capital, are heightened for companies based outside of Australia’s capital cities, she said.

“I think the challenge is just heightened the more regional or the more remote you are, because your access and opportunity and connection into some of those kinds of solutions are further away and harder to find,” Ms Spicer said.

Ms Spicer is also enthusiastic about the climate technology space, and said this is an area where Queensland can lead the way and “put a flag in the ground”.

“What we eat and where that food comes from is going to change drastically in the next 10 years, and more so again in 20 years,” she said.

“We’ve got horticulture producers who are starting to bring the modular farms in, who are starting to look at vertical farms and shipping container farms. It’s more efficient and less labour-intensive.”

The chief entrepreneur has also welcomed the federal government’s $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund, and said it’s important the capital is unlocked quickly.

“I think the concept is good and I think the amount of money that they’ve attached to it is actually realistic. What we then need to make sure is that we have some very practical solutions-focused people involved in the delivery,” Ms Spicer said.

“The worst thing would be that if in a period of time, two-thirds of that money is still sitting in the bank. Broadly as a community I think we need to get better at not lynching government every time something gets spent that maybe didn’t get exactly what we thought, because that doesn’t happen in business either.” 

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

Leave a Comment

Related stories