Supporting entrepreneurial ventures that support economic growth in regional Queensland
When Rockhampton Regional Council first partnered with GWI in 2015 to develop its Smart City Strategy, the Smart Way Forward, they made a clear commitment to diversifying the local economy and finding new ways to accelerate innovation in the region. So, when the community told council they were willing and ready to explore emerging business opportunities, but didn’t have access to the right support, Council listened.
This feedback, combined with input from peak industry bodies and major local employers, led to the inception of the SmartHub — a place dedicated to supporting and empowering local start-ups, entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Council called on GWI to help map out a ‘smart way forward’ to bring the initiative to life and build a foundation for future success.
Right questions, right solutions
When first identifying the SmartHub initiative, Council outlined vital ingredients new businesses would need to maximise their chances of success.
Affordable workspace, greater internet connectivity, tele-working and access to funding opportunities were flagged as imperatives — as was the need to provide a space for businesses to collaborate with others and learn about ways in which they can reach new markets, reduce costs and grow using technology and innovation.
GWI engaged with political and senior executives across the region to build on these insights and better understand the marketplace barriers and opportunities.
Armed with these insights and additional research, we were able to recommend a preferred way forward to ensure the SmartHub played a role in solving real-world challenges to help build a thriving and diversified regional economy. The end result was a clear, actionable and strategically aligned business plan and operating model, focused on serving a real need and generating genuine value.
Accelerating a smarter future
Since opening, the SmartHub has received global recognition and was announced as one of Queensland’s preferred locations for interstate and international start-ups.
The business plan and operation model has helped transform Customs House — an icon that has been the centre of commerce in the community for more than 100 years — into a modern co-working space that supports more than 70 members, 26 new employees and enjoys strong partnerships and sponsorships with organisations from across the wider region.
The SmartHub is one of the final elements of Rockhampton City Council’s $4.5million Rockhampton CBD Smart Technologies and Working Hub program, being delivered as part of the Smart Way Forward project.
The initiative was also recognised nationally with Council winning the Economic Development Australia 2016 Award for Excellence in the Digital Entrepreneurs Category.