WATERING CANE: Agriculture is one of the regions biggest industries. Photo: Max Fleet
WATERING CANE: Agriculture is one of the regions biggest industries. Photo: Max Fleet

Mapping our innovation ecosystem

THE Mackay Isaac Whitsunday region has an emerging innovation ecosystem.

Now you might think when it comes to innovation that it falls into the category of tech companies and start-ups, but rather, the strides our region is making in this sphere can be found in our core industries such as agriculture, METS and tourism.

Recently GW3, as part of the Queensland Government’s Advancing Regional Innovation Program, has embarked on a 2019 update of the Mapping the Innovation Ecosystem project.

GW3 first undertook this mapping project in 2018 and this year’s project focuses on quantifying how much the innovation ecosystem is growing across the MIW region.

Why this is important to our region is it sets a benchmark, where we will begin to see trends in our region which will allow to create new opportunities, offer support and education to certain industries and start-ups.

So far, we have had more than 50 newly-identified innovator individuals and businesses complete the survey for 2019, which is a positive outcome and tells us that the awareness of innovation across our region is growing steadily.

The 2019 Mapping the Innovation Ecosystem project not only collects new data and identifies new innovation hot spots, but also follows up on those individuals and businesses already identified as active in the ecosystem.

It’s an active time in the innovation space at the moment as this week through the ARIP program, GW3 has partnered with Split Spaces to deliver a Mackay Entrepreneur in Residence week.

Hosted by international entrepreneur and Bundaberg Chief Entrepreneur Michael Ryan Norton, the week has comprised of a series of workshops and mentoring sessions for start-ups and SME businesses.

These workshops touched on the importance of knowing how to convey value to customers, mastering the art of story telling and how this revolutionises the way business can grow along with maximising ROI with minimal resources, automation and workflow.

Our youth also remain a focus of innovation across our region and the Big Ideas Challenge also kicked off in Mackay in this week.

Designed to engage young people in the world of innovation, this event gave 90 students from six Mackay high schools the opportunity to hear from exciting and inspiring innovators and change makers while developing entrepreneurial thinking and human centred design skills.

Next month entrepreneur Max Shepherd-Cross, co-founder and CEO of HotelFlex, will be in the Whitsunday and Isaac regions to give his insights and story behind his B2B Enterprise software business, which sells into hotels and generates revenue from hotels by monetising early check-ins and late check- outs.

He will be in residence in the Whitsundays from November 13 and in the Isaac region from November 19.

Embracing innovation is a critical feature of our region’s future success and GW3 is working hard to ensure that MIW is a place for innovation and entrepreneurial spirit to thrive.

Kylie Porter, GW3 Interim CEO