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Silicon Lakes to fly the flag for Gold Coast start-ups on US trip

Wednesday, 15 May 2013 | By Michelle Hammond

The directors of Gold Coast-based incubator Silicon Lakes will venture to Silicon Valley next month to meet the organisers of Startup Weekend and visit the offices of Google and Microsoft.


Silicon Lakes, which launched late last year, is a not-for-profit tech start-up incubator and co-working space located in the Gold Coast suburb of Robina.


It is led by Greg Burnett, Aaron Birkby and Bill Bass, all of whom are heading to Silicon Valley in a bid to champion Australian start-ups, particularly those based on the Gold Coast.


The trio will visit Silicon Valley from June 12 to 25.


“The main purpose is to build some strong bridges. We’re getting a lot of introductions and we want to put some foundations behind those introductions,” Burnett told StartupSmart.


“It’s basically the first trip of what we think will be the first of many. We’re not so much trying to emulate or copy what’s in the Valley but saying, ‘There is activity in Sydney and Melbourne’ and getting the Gold Coast on the radar.


“We want to start to build some bridges with people who have an interest in what we’ll be doing in the coming years.”


Burnett says the original plan was to bring along several start-up founders but the funds simply weren’t available.


“The idea was to take a small group with us… But no one’s got any money. We were going to take four or five people from the start-up movement in Queensland,” he says.


“We’re going over to kind of say, ‘Keep an eye on what’s happening here on the Gold Coast’.


“We’ve got meetings lined up to look through Singularity University, and we’re going to visit Google and Microsoft.”


The trio also plans on spending some time in Seattle to meet the organisers of Startup Weekend, which has made waves in all of Australia’s capital cities.


The inaugural Startup Weekend Gold Coast will be held in July, so Burnett and his co-directors are hoping to get some tips from the organisers.


“We’ll [also] be attending a Startup Weekend in San Francisco on the first weekend we’re there… It’s about building our credentials to show how serious we are,” Burnett says.


Burnett says Queensland – and the Gold Coast in particular – is lucky to have strong support from the government for start-ups.


“At the moment – and this is just my own feeling and comments made by other shareholders we’ve been dealing with – is the Queensland Government and the Gold Coast City Council are prepared to make structural changes and investments in the ecosystem,” Burnett says.