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Brisbane unveils plan to join the start-up heavyweights

Tuesday, 12 March 2013 | By Michelle Hammond

Brisbane City Council will offer grants to budding entrepreneurs with promising digital potential as part of an ambitious plan to propel the city into the multitrillion dollar global digital economy.


The Digital Brisbane strategy, launched by Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, aims to kick-start a business revolution to ensure the city capitalises on the rapidly growing digital economy.


It sets a number of five-year targets, including doubling the number of Brisbane firms selling products and services online, and support for 50 promising local digital start-up companies.


The strategy consists of three core programs: the Digital Business Power-up Program, the Digital Start-up Kick-start Program and the Cyber City Program.


The objective of the Digital Start-up Kick-start Program is to provide stimulus for digital start-ups. This will be achieved via the following initiatives:

  • Introduce a grant program to encourage budding entrepreneurs to launch start-ups and facilitate access to business incubators.
  • Provide mentoring and pitch coaching to 50 promising business start-ups.
  • Introduce a visiting entrepreneur program to link start-ups with successful international role models.
  • Support a series of start-up-related events over five years, starting with the TechConnect conference in Brisbane in April.
  • Launch the Coderdojo program in city libraries to teach hundreds of young people how to master digital coding. This is an international program aimed at those aged seven to 17.

The Digital Business Power-up Program will help more than 4,000 businesses with digital training and information forums, and a further 30,000 people through web-based support tools.


The Cyber City Program, meanwhile, will aim to improve public services through digital technology. This will include a fully integrated way-finding system featuring signage, maps, etc.


According to a report detailing the Digital Brisbane strategy, Brisbane has an opportunity to become a “significant player in the knowledge economy”, although there are still major barriers.


“Brisbane… still does not have many of the basic components of an ecosystem that is supportive of high-growth digital start-ups,” the report said.


“Brisbane start-up companies are constrained by the relative immaturity of the local start-up ecosystem, as evidenced by the relatively low number of technology-based companies successfully tackling global markets.”


According to Quirk, the Digital Brisbane program will kick off immediately.


“I see this as starting a focus of digital that will flow across the city and influence our priorities and our mindset,” he said in a statement.


“I want Brisbane to become known as a city for digital participation, innovation and education… The city needs to act to speed the pace of change.


“Crucial to the success will be partnering with businesses and organisations that can drive the change, and assisting businesses to find the people and information to help them.”


Quirk said overseas competitors are already taking business from local providers as geographical economic boundaries become less rigid.


“We need to win back that business and look for opportunities to globally scale Brisbane businesses and encourage start-up entrepreneurs with great ideas,” he said.