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65% growth in Sunshine Coast's dynamic entrepreneurship ecosystem

By Head of Industry Development - Economic Branch, Anne Lawrence (first published on LinkedIn).

Our innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem expanded 65% in the last three years, reflecting the dynamic network of education programs, business incubators, coworking spaces, advocacy events and meetups which provide an ideal location for startups, entrepreneurial talent, news ideas and creativity.

The first Sunshine Coast Entrepreneurial Ecosystem map, launched at the Advance Queensland Innovation and Investment Summit in 2016, captured the support and resources available for new, emerging and established innovators and entrepreneurs to encourage closer partnerships to cement our position as a leading region for innovation and business development.

Sunshine Coast Innovation Centre

Sunshine Coast Innovation Centre.

In 2019, the updated ecosystem expanded from seven to 10 clusters, incorporating three new clusters - programs, maker spaces, and infrastructure investment – while the number of organisations, programs and activities grew from 46 to 76 during the past three years, including:

More information about these great programs and initiatives are available in council’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship brochure. Note that this map is geographically focused on the Sunshine Coast Local Government Area. For information and activities inclusive of our friends in Noosa, we suggest SCRIPT as a resource.

Celebrating our achievements

  • Named a global Top7 Intelligent Community of 2019, consolidating our previous success as an international Smart21 region for six out of the past seven years.

  • Ranked 7th in the world for innovation by the Intelligent Communities Forum, which assesses the ability of communities to generate innovation in business and government for economic, social and cultural growth. 

  • Chancellor State College’s RoboRoyals team received 2nd place for the Gracious Professionalism Award at the 2019 FIRST Robotics Championship in Houston, Texas. At the 2019 National FIRST Technology Challenge in Sydney RoboKings won highest performing robot in Australia and the top Inspire Award for all their work in local, national and international STEM development through robotics.

  • GovHack attracted 57 entries across two Sunshine Coast locations, representing 30% of entries across Queensland. Six Sunshine Coast teams were recognised in seven award categories at the 2018 National GovHack National Awards.  

  • The Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards program has trained approx 120 students in innovation and entrepreneurship principles between 2016-2019 and awarded over $50,000 worth of prizes, including team travel to Sydney for a mentoring, technology and entrepreneurship experience.

  • The Sunshine Coast has a high number of innovative entrepreneurs, digital champions and thriving businesses who all make a global impact. Some of these have been captured on the Digital Sunshine Coast champions page.

  • 17 Advance Queensland Community Digital Champions are based on the Sunshine Coast, representing the highest percentage per capita from across state.

  • The ‘Sunshine Coast: The place to be - raising entrepreneurial ventures through an ecosystem of support’ report is informing and guiding the development of future programs that will encourage further innovation and entrepreneurial activity in our region.

  • A second collaborative research project, ‘The Regional Innovation Benchmark Report’ provides knowledge-sharing about how to develop innovations within new and existing businesses to boost business performance. It also supports the Advancing Queensland Regional Innovation Program and SCRIPT objectives.


When asked about the strength of our ecosystem, I try not to immediately default to the quantitative analysis, instead I reflect and comment on the strength of the collaborations between the many people working on projects and initiatives represented graphically by the ‘spider web’ ecosystem map feature image of this post.

The effectiveness of our ecosystem is primarily due to the passion, commitment and kindness of the Sunshine Coasters who regularly #GiveFirst.

I know that Chad Renando from Startup Status is doing some great work in evaluating and measuring ecosystems, so you can dive deeper into that topic by reading his LinkedIn articles and following his twitter feed

What’s next

In addition to updating them map again for 2020, where we warmly welcome ideas and contributions, some date claimers for early 2020 that you may be interested in below - and further details will also be in our monthly business enews:

26 February: Queensland Chief Entrepreneur Leanne Kemp will visit the region (coordinated by Innovation Centre and supported by SCRIPT) featuring an inclusive range of activities.

24-25 March: Qode event in Brisbane where Sunshine Coast will have a strong feature aligned to our International Broadband Network (and SCRIPT will support 10 local delegates to attend).

3-5 April: Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast (coordinated by Silicon Coast and supported by SCRIPT).

22-24 May: RoboRAVE international robotics event at USC (coordinated by RoboCoast and supported by SCRIPT).

3 June: BiG Day In (tech skills for school children symposium).

Stay in the loop!

Get notifications of various events and activities, subscribe/join some of the following:

Look forward to seeing you at one of the many events or activities around the region shortly.

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