- Last updated:
- 01 May 2020
Supporting innovation strategically
The third category in the Intelligent Community awards is innovation: Intelligent Communities pursue innovation through a relationship among business, government and such institutions as universities and hospitals to create a culture that engages the entire community in positive change. This post highlights how council works with businesses and institutions to drive innovation, the collaborative partnerships supporting our innovation ecosystem and innovative companies which call the Sunshine Coast home.
We recognise that our future prosperity lies in ideas, innovation and driving entrepreneurialism. We already have a flourishing innovation ecosystem, providing an ideal location for startups, entrepreneurial talent and creativity.
Leading demographer Bernard Salt has called the Sunshine Coast ‘Australia’s entrepreneurship capital’.
The deployment of new and enabling technology supports innovation and transformation in our Sunshine Coast Regional Economic Development Strategy 2013-2033, which provides a 20-year vision and blueprint for sustainable economic growth across our seven high-value industries - a key priority is promoting innovation, research and digital participation.
Our region has made significant strides in developing an entrepreneurial reputation and culture.
- Through the Sunshine Coast Regional Innovation Project Team, the region is already fostering more innovative businesses, product development and employment growth (more details below).
- Similarly, the deployment of new and enabling technologies, including the international broadband submarine network infrastructure, will support innovation and transformation across high-value industries and companies.
- Business and industry are actively encouraged to continue to embrace new technologies to expand their markets and compete nationally and globally. The capacity building of business, including existing and new businesses across the region, is a critical part of this process.
- Providing opportunities for our young entrepreneurs is also important and the region has seen the development of a range of programs, initiatives and mentoring of our young talent to help them create the jobs and companies of the future.
- World-class research also holds the key to addressing challenges such as increasing industry innovation and productivity improvement. Productive research partnerships between the higher education sector and industry can provide the confidence, evidence and foundations to innovate and turn research into commercial products and services.
1. Council initiatives
Smart City Implementation Plan
Sunshine Coast Council is actively seeking to harness the benefits of the digital revolution for our region through our Smart City Implementation Plan, enabling us to use these innovative technologies and data driven intelligence to deliver more efficient services and improve residents’ lifestyle.
Our choice is to be proactive and choose the change that adds value to our region, increases our regional sustainability and drives new investment through an international profile as a leading smart region.
The Smart City Implementation Program 2016-2019 detailed the initial three-year program to achieve the transition of ‘smart’ from new to business as usual and is now a council policy.
We are currently updating the Smart City Implementation Plan 2019-2022 which provides an update on progress over the first three years and proposes a revised approach which simplifies the implementation structure and focus areas.
Council has been actively investigating and trialling several technology solutions for some time, including.
- Sensors to reduce waste bin emptying routines and save costs. Smart irrigation systems (which rely on a combination of weather stations, sensors and flow meters) are being used to maintain public parks and reduce weed growth while minimising water use and costs.
- The growing network of connected LED lights reduces energy consumption.
- The region’s new Maroochydore City Centre will be a genuine smart city for the 21st century, with the installation of optic fibre networks and Australia’s first Automated Waste Collection System – all built in from the outset.
- Digital services which harness apps, online portals and digital kiosks provide the community access to council services and real time information:
Sunshine Coast International Broadband Network
Council is the first government in Australia to secure an investment in an international broadband submarine cable, only the second landing site on the east coast outside of Sydney. It will provide critical infrastructure for Australia, redundancy (disaster recovery solutions), diversity for customers, reduce latency (lag) and connect Queensland business and consumers directly to international markets.
From mid-2020, the cable will provide business with the fastest data connection to Asia from Australia's east coast and the second fastest to the United States. That means businesses in Queensland have the capacity and speed to connect to billions of people through the direct cable paths to Hong Kong, Japan and the Americas through Los Angeles, truly connecting the Sunshine Coast to the world.
The region will also leverage the Sunshine Coast International Broadband Network to drive the development of the region as Australia’s first Digital Trade Hub - to take a region-wide approach to data and digital connectivity.
The opportunity to place a data centre in the region will ensure the Sunshine Coast is a true Point of Presence for international and domestic digital connectivity with full consumer content peering and consumer and business cloud peering.
2. Innovative businesses in our region
HeliMods services the global helicopter market from its world class, purpose-built facility at Caloundra Airport on the Sunshine Coast, using cutting edge technologies, including fully associative, digital 3D design and Computer Aided Engineering (CAE), 3D laser scanning, 3D printing, and augmented reality.
With a multinational team of over 40 people, including highly skilled engineers and advanced technology workers, HeliMods provides aircraft operators with specialist engineering services to deliver customised and fully integrated helicopter solutions to take on special missions like firefighting, law enforcement, and medical rescue.
In 2019, Helimods won the Regional Exporter Award at the Premier of Queensland Export Awards and was also inducted into the Sunshine Coast Business Awards Hall of Fame.
Entagsupports its customers with their digital journey by delivering transformative technology-based solutions which give small businesses, government organisations and large companies true differentiation.
Using world class applications such as DocuSign, Box, Go Canvas, Diary and Office 365, Entag’s solutions provide seamless integration with customers’ existing systems such as CRM, database, finance or ordering, which allows them to compete and be relevant in today’s market.
Typefi is a global leader in the provision of single-source automated publishing software, helping organisations around the world publish their content faster and in more formats. It has a global team of 45 but the company’s head office, including the Research and Development department, is based on the Sunshine Coast.
In 2018, Typefi won the Small Business category and was a finalist in the Digital Technologies category at the Premier of Queensland’s Export Awards. The company was also inducted into the Sunshine Coast Business Awards Hall of Fame.
McCormick and Company - Gourmet Garden
Gourmet Garden has grown from a small privately-owned company since its inception in 1999 to a global success exporting to more than 15 countries and appearing on over 35,000 supermarket shelves in the United States, Asia, Europe, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom. Its outstanding success both domestically and internationally has played a key part in its 2016 acquisition by United States based McCormick and Company.
3. Examples of collaboration among business, government and institutions
Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast
The Innovation Centre provides an entrepreneurial hub for 50+ innovative enterprises and mature startups that are scaling their business in a highly collaborative environment. Since 2002 the Innovation Centre has:
- directly supported the startup and growth of 260+ businesses
- created more than 1100 jobs
- raised over $36 million in early stage capital for member companies
- held 265 events
- hosted 270 student placements
- helped build a dynamic, entrepreneurial ecosystem
Innovation Centre activities are estimated to have contributed around $104 million to direct industry output in the Sunshine Coast economy since 2002, which would not have otherwise been expected to occur. This includes $102.9 million in output by the 140+ businesses which are either past or current Innovation Centre clients and operating within the Sunshine Coast economy.
Innovation Centre programs include:
- Australian Health Accelerator(AHx)
- GrowCoastal Food Innovation Accelerator
- Startup LaunchLab
- Mentoring for Growth (M4G)
- Pitch Competition
Sunshine Coast Regional Innovation Project Team (SCRIPT)
SCRIPT is a collaboration of local entrepreneurs, businesses, government stakeholders and community members dedicated to fueling innovation and growing business capacity on the Sunshine Coast.
Its purpose is to create meaningful outcomes and economic value that will result in new products and services, growth in sales and exports, job creation and talent attraction, business migration to the region/state, and increased capital investment.
This unique program manages projects and priorities across multiple government jurisdictions and five key themes: smart cities; health and wellbeing; food and agribusiness; sustainability and the environment; and creative industries.
- 40 projects, events and activities have been funded by SCRIPT, with a further 15 receiving in-kind support.
- Appointed Regional Innovation Coordinator and Entrepreneur in the Region roles.
- Regional Innovation Benchmark Project
4. Business formation, growth and attraction
- National car and home insurer Youi is one of the region’s major employers and has been part of the Sunshine Coast since it began its Australian operation with 30 staff in 2008, followed by its New Zealand operation in 2014. Youi’s global headquarters is located in the Sunshine Coast Technology Precinct at Sippy Downs.
- Country Chef began operations on the Sunshine Coast in 1992 after relocating from its Brisbane factory where the company first started. From humble beginnings making desserts in their Sunshine Coast home Country Chef has become the largest baker of pavlovas and meringues in the Southern Hemisphere.
Read more about the region-wide programs and initiatives across the awards' Intelligent Community indicators:
- Broadband: encouraging deployment and adoption, and deploying our own networks where necessary
- Knowledge workforce: creating economic value through knowledge, skills and ability to use information effectively
- Digital inclusion: providing access to digital technology and connectivity, and offering digital skills training
- Engagement: building a common understanding of the challenges facing the community and a shared vision for overcoming them
- Sustainability: improving the quality of life for our community.
The Sunshine Coast has again been named a global Top7 Intelligent Community for the second successive year. The annual awards program recognises the accomplishments of communities in developing inclusive prosperity on a foundation of information and communications technology, based on six key indicators: Broadband, knowledge workforce, innovation, digital inclusion, engagement and sustainability. The 2020 Top7 Intelligent Communities are now in the running for the prestigious Intelligent Community of the Year, to be announced in October.