The Sunshine Coast Startup Ecosystem Overview

The region has a lifestyle-centric product and service market, which attracts many entrepreneurs. The local government supports several business-friendly measures such as incubation programs, grants, and newly introduced growth-driven regulations. Sunshine Coast has moved up 10 spots in the 2021 Global Ecosystem Index Report. Sunshine Coast ranks high within Australia and the Oceania region. In 2021, Sunshine Coast overperformed in Foodtech (50th globally) and in Energy & Environment Technology (55th globally). Overperforming most other regional economies in its rate of growth, the Sunshine Coast is strengthened by 3.2 million annual visitors a year. It has also immensely diversified and evolved in other areas, such as healthcare, education, and business services, at an unprecedented pace.

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The startup-friendly environment has attracted several investors to tap into the emerging startup ecosystem in the Sunshine Coast. Several co-working spaces such as Spark Bureau and Startup Precinct help startups grow and scale. You, PointDuty, Terragen Biotech, and Alkira Software are some promising startups that have put the region on the global tech map.

Education and Research is one of the pillars which supports the robust startup ecosystem in the region. Universities like the University of Sunshine Coast help attract talent globally to the area while advancing research. Sunshine Coast International Broadband Network has been delivering the fastest telecommunications connection to Asia from Australia’s east coast, and the second-fastest connection to the United States.

Important Players on the Sunshine Coast Startup Ecosystem

There is a wide variety of important players in the ecosystem as well as more than 10 coworking spaces and half a dozen accelerator and incubator programs. Here are some of them:

Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast – a major hub for entrepreneurial activity in the area that provides mentoring and support to mature and emerging startups and a collaborative environment where they can scale. Incubator and accelerator programs and a range of other high-end services are available to members and stakeholders.

Sunshine Coast Council – Committed to projects that are fueling the culture of growth and innovation on the Sunshine Coast, especially recent infrastructure projects and specialist services that encourage new investments across the region.

Sunshine Coast Regional Innovation Program (SCRIPT) – is the largest statewide collaboration of partners working to develop a Regional Innovation Hub and connect players to facilitate business growth.

Startup Precinct – offers modern coworking facilities and a dedicated space for entrepreneurs. Want to combine work and a holiday, just think about it as a coworking holiday!

Spark Bureau – an affordable office and coworking space for solopreneurs, small businesses and digital nomads.

Business Mentoring Program – a non-for-profit program established with the Sunshine Coast Chamber Alliance to support the development of small businesses on the Sunshine Coast and allow them to succeed.

The Refinery - a Creative Incubator designed to transform ideas into sustainable businesses.

Notable startups

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Youi – is one of the most successful startups that is headquartered on the Sunshine Coast. A highly awarded national car and home insurer, and 2020 winner of the Mozo’s People’s Choice Awards for Excellent Customer Service and Outstanding Customer Satisfaction.

PointDuty – offers a range of specialized applications and software tools for data-driven industries.

Terragen Biotech – an agricultural biotech company that manufactures a range of biological products to offer sustainable solutions to farmers.

Alkira Software – builts powerful voice apps for platforms employing next-generation AI and conversation management platforms.

Events

black smartphone near person

There are a high number of dynamic networking and startup events available in the local community, that enable early-stage founders to find the support they seek. A community of like-minded and committed individuals is a key aspect of any startup ecosystem development process, especially in a place like the Sunshine Coast, where local businesses are complemented by an international pool of investors, founders and talent.

Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast – a fast-paced weekend-long event with a good mix of attendees with technical and non-technical background, pitching their ideas, mapping customer needs and services and developing working prototypes to present at the end of the weekend.

Generation Innovation – empowers young entrepreneurs to pursue innovative ideas and offers the tools and guidance needed to succeed. Open to Sunshine Coast residents between the ages of 15-25.

Silicon Coast – Silicon Coast is an online community that tries to mimic an innovative culture akin to Silicon Valley. The group works to promote business creation, connect entrepreneurs, and facilitate entrepreneurial events on the Sunshine Coast.

Main Strengths of the Sunshine Coast Startup Ecosystem
    • Growing economy and tech hub

    • Prime location connected to Brisbane by road and rail, and other parts of Australia through by air

    • Proactive government support for startups and small businesses

    • Affordable cost of living

    • Availability of qualified workforce

    • Well-established venture capital industry

    • Excellent digital connectivity

Ecosystem Milestones

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