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 and industry development programs, grants, and a comprehensive Regional Economic Development Strategy which provides a 20-year vision and bluprint for diversified sustainable economic growth. The Sunshine Coast has moved up 6 spots in the 2022 Global Ecosystem Index Report. Sunshine Coast ranks high within Australia and the Oceania region. In 2021, Sunshine Coast overperformed in Foodtech (57th worldwide) and in Energy & Environment Technology (56th worldwide). 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.
The startup-friendly environment has attracted several investors to tap into the flourishing startup ecosystem on the Sunshine Coast. Several co-working spaces such as Spark Bureau and Startup Precinct help startups grow and scale. Youi, PointDuty, Terragen Biotech, Greaseboss 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 the Sunshine Coast (UniSC) help attract talent globally to the area while advancing research.
Ranking highly for digital connectivity, the region is home to the Sunshine Coast International Broadband Cable, a 18 Tbps submarine data cable providing the fastest telecommunications connection to Asia from Australia’s east coast, and the second-fastest connection to the United States. In 2021, ASX listed NEXTDC established the SC1 Edge Data Centre next to the Sunshine Coast International Broadband Cable Landing Station in the new Maroochydore City Centre, providing a high-speed link for businesses to the broadband cable.
There is a wide variety of important players in the ecosystem as well as more than 13 coworking spaces and half a dozen accelerator and incubator programs. Here are some of them:
Silicon Coast is the Sunshine Coast’s leading representative body for innovation and entrepreneurship. Igniting collaboration by supporting and developing the regional ecosystem through it’s extensive network of over 2000 members, Silicon Coast has been facilitating introductions for entrepreneurs, knowledge exchange, new collaborations and development of new community leaders since 2014.
SunCoast Angels Investor Network - providing emerging companies with seed and startup capital through direct and private investment as well as offering valuable introductions between investors and entrepreneurs.
The Sunny Coast Showdown is a Screen industry talent and idea incubator where successful applicants can receive support and mentoring to develop and produce their screen projects.
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. Council also strongly supports the region’s collaborative industry groups and clusters including: The Food and Agribusiness Network, Manufacturing Excellence Forum, Sunshine Coast Tech Industry Alliance, Sunshine Coast Screen Collective and Cleantech Industries Sunshine Coast.
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.
Sunshine Coast Business Awards - an annual event program facilitated by the Sunshine Coast Chamber Alliance which recognises and celebrates the outstanding entrepreneurial talent within the region.
The Refinery - a Creative Incubator designed to transform ideas into sustainable businesses by connecting the dots between creativity and business, with access to mentors and inspiring industry leaders.
SunRamp Health and Technology Accelerator - providing education, training and support to late-stage health-tech startups.
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.
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.
Forward Fest - a week- long innovation festival hosted by Silicon Coast which comprises TED Talk-style presentations, panel discussions, interactive workshops, demonstrations and networking events.
Growing economy and tech hub
Proactive government support for startups and small businesses
Sought after lifestyle destination boasting excellent infrastructure, public services and access to nature
Flourishing innovation ecosystem
Availability of qualified workforce
Well-established venture capital industry
Excellent digital connectivity
Prime location connected to Brisbane by road and rail, and other parts of Australia including the world by air
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