Building Startup & Innovation Ecosystems throughout Regional Australia

Challenge Update

With just 4.5 months until SEGRA 2016, I thought it appropriate to ramp up communication leading into the Albany event as a means to invite more regions to get involved in the challenge. Now is as good a time as any to get involved as it’s a challenge which will continue on over many years moving forward. Please contact me to get involved.

Startup & Innovation has continued to be topical and increasingly so since the 2015 Bathurst SEGRA event. The federal government announced its Ideas Boom innovation policy of which a large component has bipartisan support, so irrespective of the federal election, I’m confident that we will see ongoing support for innovation.  It’s evident that multiple levels of government see the necessity for urban and regional areas throughout the country to have innovation as part of their core economic development strategy.

To support the challenge, Charles Sturt University have committed funding to support a 3 staged research project heading up by Professor Mark Morrison. I’ll invite Mark to comment here in the coming weeks.

We’ve had fantastic participation in the challenge thus far with the following regions participating in the initial stages of the project:

  • Port Douglas
  • Cooktown
  • Tablelands
  • Townsville
  • Mackay
  • Darwin
  •  Albany
  • Gold Coast
  • Fraser Coast
  • Bathurst
  • Toowoomba
  • Cairns

The initial stages are pretty simple. We take a snapshot of where your region is at, measured against the following key metrics.

  1. Regional Startup & Innovation champion (team). Does the region have one?
  2. Key stakeholders. Have they been identified and to what extent have they been engaged?
  3. Physical place. Has one been established?
  4. Number of relevant programs & events run each month

From there, regions have the opportunity to work with theSPACE to devise strategies to build out your ecosystem.

theSPACE are committing full time resources to the development of this project leading into SEGRA Albany and beyond. We consider this work to be critical for regional Australia. theSPACE are four years into the journey of regional ecosystem development and a recently completed study conducted by the Queensland Government in conjunction with local councils throughout Queensland showed that Cairns has the highest density of startups per capita than any other region in Queensland.

Over recent month’s we have started working with Startup & Innovation Tablelands, who are the pilot region for this challenge as we build out their ecosystem and entrepreneurial community. I’ll invite Startup & Innovation Tablelands lead to comment here, but a quick summary is outlined below:

December 2015 Snap Shot

  1. Regional Startup & Innovation champion (team). Does the region have one?  No
  2. Key stakeholders. Have they been identified and to what extent have they been engaged? Many stakeholders could be identified, but very few had been effectively engaged
  3.  Physical place. Has one been established? No
  4. Number of relevant programs & events run each month. 8 – many smaller events. 1 x Startup Weekend.


  • Champion Team of 9 people
  • ST have become national host for International Agro Innovation Challenge
  • theSPACE has started working with the team teaching them commercialisation process
  • Building their own consultancies around the ecosystem
  • Building out the ecosystem
  • 2 x monthly startup & innovation events run by champions

It’s still early days, but momentum is building.

troy haines

start-up & innovation specialist
CEO theSPACE Australasia

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