The Palaszczuk Government is backing a $1 million program to boost economic growth, spark innovation and drive job creation in the North Queensland region, Acting Innovation Minister Coralee O’Rourke announced today (Friday, 13 October).
Mrs O’Rourke said the government will support two lead organisations in the region – the community-based innovation incubator Innovation NQ (iNQ) and professional services company GHD – with funding of $500,000 over three years through its $6 million Advancing Regional Innovation Program (ARIP).
“The Palaszczuk Government’s ARIP project is a statewide initiative to boost jobs and strengthen communities by fostering innovation and empowering the regions to shape their future,” Mrs O’Rourke said.
“This ARIP project brings together the strengths of dual project leaders, with iNQ’s grassroots community of entrepreneurs, innovators, business and community leaders, and the corporate network and experience of GHD.”
The iNQ grassroots entrepreneurial focus will be growing the number of successful startups and innovative small businesses to strengthen the regional economy. Their partners are James Cook University, Sister City Partners, Philip Leong Youth Programme, DEC-MECH and Premise Group Services Pty Ltd.
The GHD-led partnership will primarily focus on connecting young professionals and university students with larger industries and local governments to help solve regional challenges and retain talent in North Queensland.
Their partners are Townsville City Council, Charters Towers Regional Council, Burdekin Shire Council, Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council and Townsville Chamber of Commerce.
Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said iNQ and GHD will work together and with their collaborative partners across North Queensland to open up established industry to innovation and support more entrepreneurs in the region.
“The North Queensland region has a strong culture of innovation and entrepreneurialism, and this government’s ARIP investment will certainly foster growth by building on that existing ecosystem,” he said.
Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper said it was an exciting time for innovation in North Queensland.
“Under ARIP, the Palaszczuk Government is providing matched funding up to $500,000 to 12 regions, including Far North Queensland, from its $420 million flagship Advance Queensland initiative to drive innovation and turn great ideas into new products, businesses and jobs,” he said.
iNQ Vice President Joe Hoolahan said the ARIP project will facilitate the building of a strong and dynamic innovation community.
“We will employ resources to drive broader community participation in all things innovation, allowing the next generation of entrepreneurs to contribute to our region’s resilience and prosperity,” Mr Hoolahan said.
GHD’s Digital and Innovation team worked with local and state government, universities and businesses to develop the Innovation and Technology Adoption Program North Queensland (I-TAP NQ) to enable industry collaborating with researchers, entrepreneurs and startups to tackle the region’s complex infrastructure challenges.
GHD Project Leader Myles Coker said the ARIP funding will support I-TAP NQ to launch Smart Seeds in North Queensland, a global innovation program for young talent to inspire innovation in infrastructure.
“It will be inspiring to see the local young talent and grassroots innovators tackle the region’s complex challenges alongside established industry. It’s a model North Queensland can showcase to other regions around the world.”
James Cook University Professor of Tropical Regional Development Professor Allan Dale said greater innovation will continue to drive productivity improvements in the regional development, business and service delivery sectors.
“We are a very extensive region, however, and real support through the ARIP is needed to create the right environment for networking and testing new innovations.”
Charters Towers Regional Council Mayor Cr Liz Schmidt said the ARIP funding will allow for building capacity within Charters Towers region’s small, medium and large organisations to adopt new skills, business models and digital technology solutions.
“Council expects that this funding will provide job growth stimulus, in particular to our school graduates and young job seekers across our region.”
Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said North Queensland had a history of innovation with many great examples of innovative ideas being generated from a unique perspective.
“Expanding the culture of innovation takes a lot of people thinking and working collaboratively. This funding will allow the local entrepreneurial community to expand and kick up a gear using some of the great programs that will be delivered.”
Townsville Chamber of Commerce CEO Marie-Claude Brown said the program would help to keep talent in the region by providing a platform where people could develop their own jobs and new skills.
“The Townsville Chamber is a partner in the North Queensland ARIP because the program provides opportunities for those emerging industries needing new skills to develop in the here and now,” Ms Brown said.
Visit the Advancing Regional Innovation Program (http://advance.qld.gov.au/small-business/advancing-regional-innovation.aspx) for more details on ARIP, or contact Joe Hoolahan on 0400 700 977 or email@example.com or Myles Coker on 0407 773 467 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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