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All systems go

Darrell Edwards says there are more opportunities than ever for Sunshine Coast businesses to embrace technology and become leading innovators.

It’s been over a year since I swapped the world of finance for a new career in semi-government. One thing I quickly learned is that the Sunshine Coast is a centre of innovation and original thought – particularly as it affects business.

Our region is fast becoming recognised as the entrepreneurial capital of Australia, and I am proud of the role Regional Development Australia Sunshine Coast plays in this business revolution.

The key to innovative success is collaboration – the building of partnerships and alliances by like-minded innovators.

Innovation is certain to be stimulated by the recent $500,000 grant by the Queensland Government’s Advancing Regional Innovation Program to support innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises, and create jobs for the future.

RDA Sunshine Coast, along with Sunshine Coast Council and Noosa Council, are the lead collaborators in this project, which aims to attract, connect and support innovators across our region.

With more than 24 partners, the Coast submitted the largest collaboration under a single submission in the state.

RDA Sunshine Coast has tried to make a difference to established businesses by developing programs that will enable, upskill and equip business owners for the rapidly changing environment.

For example, our Speed It Up campaign was launched last year in response to feedback from the business community that inadequate broadband speed was harming their operations.
Later, we developed a key partnership with the Queensland Government Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation to develop and deliver the Digital Scorecard Program.

In partnership with TAFE Queensland East Coast and Sunshine Coast Council, we launched the Introduction to Coding course, after research showed our region lacked vocational or tertiary training in coding.

We are in a time of global technology disruption, and it is a national, state and local imperative that we innovate and build relevant solutions that generate global revenues and create local jobs.

More than 26 events have been planned across the Sunshine Coast to encourage innovation through collaboration.

They include Start-up Weekend, Start-up Weekend Youth, Generation Innovation, Grow Coastal, Innovation Centre demo days, GovHack, Hackfest, Pitch Comps, Telstra Technology awards, 15 co-working spaces, Sunshine Coast Region Innovation Programs, Pitch Bureau, Bright Spark Lab, Myriad, Virtual Reality Art competition in schools, boot camps, and Mentor Blaze.

Many are advertised on RDA Sunshine Coast’s website or newsletter or on Digital Sunshine Coast’s website.

The next generation of global start-up companies can be born right here.

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Darrell Edwards is the chief executive officer for Regional Development Australia Sunshine Coast.

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