The Sunshine Coast is ripe for economic expansion driven by community collaboration and clever business ideas, according to a special report into the impact of the region’s first Startup Weekend in May.

Startup Weekends are 54-hour entrepreneurial events where people with diverse skills and business backgrounds meet to pitch ideas, test new venture concepts and build startup companies.

The report found the Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast event raised public awareness of entrepreneurship in the region and formed #SiliconCoast, a supportive entrepreneurial community where experienced entrepreneurs mentor new startups.

The Impact Report, released last week by School of Business Lecturer in Entrepreneurship Dr Retha de Villiers Scheepers and MBA graduate Marcus Eikeland, had three key recommendations:

  • Entrepreneurs should lead the startup community by long-term commitment, inclusiveness and continuing entrepreneurial events
  • University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) supports the entrepreneurial community through knowledgeable human capital, resource and the Innovation Centre’s involvement
  • Local government facilitates these activities through supportive policies related to economic development, innovation and digital infrastructure.

“As more global startups are established, jobs will be created and entrepreneurial and digital talent will be attracted to the Sunshine Coast,” Dr de Villiers Scheepers said.

“With expanding infrastructure, the continued growth of the University and by attracting skilled knowledge workers, this region can continue to light entrepreneurial fires and fuel innovative startups.”

RDA Sunshine Coast CEO Russell Mason said the Startup Weekend program was a key action identified in the Draft Digital Action Plan, focusing on developing digital capacity and skills in the region.

“This event is one of many programs we strongly support through the Draft Digital Action Plan to promote the development of a digitally literate and highly skilled workforce which enhances our region’s productivity, increases business opportunities and improves our quality of life,” Mr Mason said.

“We look forward to again supporting the Startup Weekend 2015 and the next wave of local enterpreneurs.”

Mr Eikeland said another outcome from this year’s Startup Weekend was the establishment of #Silicon Coast, a non-profit entrepreneurial community group that had grown organically from 54 to 310 members and held four meetings since May.

Download the Impact Report

Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast 2014

The 2014 event was staged by USC’s School of Business and Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast and attracted 240 people, including 24 USC students. Aspiring entrepreneurs worked in teams on 16 new business startups – nine of which are still being pursued as business propositions.

Among these are a sustainable beehive business called Hive Haven and a 3D immersive technology company called Phenomec, both of which have been developed by USC students.

The next Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast is planned for 8-10 May 2015, with a special Youth Startup Weekend for high school students to be held earlier in the year.