Sunshine Coast ripe for enabling entrepreneurs

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Sunshine Coast ripe for enabling entrepreneurs


Group shot of Startup Weekend participants

20 November 2014

With G20 leaders hailing entrepreneurship as a means to growth, increased living standards and youth employment, a USC academic is confident the Sunshine Coast has what it takes to become a national leader in enabling innovators.

School of Business Lecturer in Entrepreneurship Dr Retha de Villiers Scheepers and USC MBA graduate Marcus Eikeland this week released a special report into the impact of the first Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast held at the University in May.

Startup Weekends, held all over the world, are 54-hour long entrepreneurial events at which people with diverse skills and business backgrounds meet to pitch ideas, test new venture concepts and build startup companies.

The Sunshine Coast event was staged by USC’s School of Business and the Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast and attracted 240people, including 24 USC students. Aspiring entrepreneurs worked in teams on 16 new business startups – nine of which are still being pursued as business propositions.

Among these are a sustainable beehive business called Hive Haven and a 3D immersive technology company called Phenomec, both of which have been developed by USC students.

The next Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast is planned for 6-8 May 2015, with a special Youth Startup Weekend for high school students to be held earlier in the year. Updates will be posted on Facebook.

Dr de Villiers Scheepers said the Sunshine Coast was ripe for economic expansion driven by community collaboration and clever business ideas.

“Our report found that the ripple effect of meaningfully connecting entrepreneurial individuals will be felt in years to come,” she said. “As more global startups are established, jobs will be created and entrepreneurial and digital talent will be attracted to the Sunshine Coast.

“With expanding infrastructure, the continued growth of the University and by attracting skilled knowledge workers, this region can continue to light entrepreneurial fires and fuel innovative startups.”

Dr de Villiers Scheepers and Mr Eikeland’s report had three key recommendations:

  • Entrepreneurs should lead the startup community by long-term commitment, inclusiveness and continuing entrepreneurial events;
  • USC supports the entrepreneurial community through knowledgeable human capital, resource and the Innovation Centre’s involvement; and
  • Local government facilitates these activities through supportive policies related to economic development, innovation and digital infrastructure.

Mr Eikeland said another outcome from this year’s Startup Weekend was the establishment of #Silicon Coast – a non-profit entrepreneurial community group that has grown organically from 54 to 310 members and held four meetings since May.

#Silicon Coast allows aspiring entrepreneurs, designers, developers, marketers and supporters to come together and share ideas and resources and keeps the momentum from Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast going throughout the year,” he said.

 — Jane Cameron

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