Queensland to move from 'startup to scale up' with new innovation strategy

The strategy hopes to commercialise the work of the state's startups, draw talent to its regional areas, and skill Queensland for the future.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The Queensland government has released a new strategy, touted by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk as a blueprint for the sunshine state's future to "drive jobs growth and solve some of the state's largest challenges through innovation".

The Building our Innovation Economy -- Advance Queensland Strategy (Draft) [PDF]is an extension of the existing Advance Queensland initiative, which was launched nearly four years ago during the 2015-16 state Budget.

According to Palaszczuk, the new strategy takes Advance Queensland to the "next step".

"When we started Advance Queensland, we recognised innovation as the vital economic driver that it is," she said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Today 19.7 percent 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."

The government said the strategy was developed in close consultation with some of the state's "innovators, entrepreneurs, academics, and business identities".

Launching Advance Queensland in June 2015, Palaszczuk said the AU$24 million initiative was targeted towards startups, saying the real driver of economic change was entrepreneurs and ambitious businesses.

"Every big corporate starts as an emerging business that took a chance. Startups can reshape entire industries through technology and business model innovation. They are vital to job creation and prosperity -- in fact studies have found that each technology job created leads to five additional jobs in other sectors," she said at the time.

In last year's Budget, the premier pumped another AU$73 million over four years into Advance Queensland, bringing the total kitty to AU$650 million.

"Advance Queensland is our long term commitment to driving new jobs and better lives for Queenslanders. It is through Advance Queensland that we are backing the innovators who will create the jobs," the foreword of the draft strategy reads.

"This draft strategy will guide the evolution of Advance Queensland -- the next generation of innovation policy and action in Queensland. It will build on existing programs as well as the effort of all parts of the innovation system."

The strategy currently focuses on five areas: Backing strengths, solving big challenges, building innovation in the state's regions, scale up innovation, and new skills and jobs.

The government expects to create jobs through innovation in its traditional strong sectors of agriculture, resources, and manufacturing, while also encouraging new industries based on state assets like biofutures.

Palaszczuk also said she wants to solve big challenges, with "cleantech" listed as a priority. The strategy said the state plans to "use innovation to help solve some of Queensland's biggest social and environmental challenges" while creating new opportunities in emerging industries.

Meanwhile, government wants to draw talent and skills to regional centres as well as main cities; "scale-up" Queensland's "innovation ecosystem" to commercialise ideas from its innovators; and train people to ensure Queenslanders are prepared for the work of the future.

The final strategy is slated for release later in 2019 following public consultation.

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