Ten People Driving the Startup Scene in Regional, Inland Queensland
(also known as the non-black t-shirt list…)

We recently enjoyed this social media post which gave a shout out to great people who support the Brisbane Startup scene.

This week, I’d like to recognise some amazing people who support our innovation ecosystems in regional, inland Queensland and encourage others to try new things and have a go.

They’re in alphabetical order, not in any order of priority, and the list is not exhaustive. This is a great excuse for others to add the many other people working in regional Qld that you’d also like to recognise, as my list is obviously agricultural in flavour!

Fleur Anderson

The committed Theodore-based businessperson and community advocate produces a podcast series, Beating Around the Bush, and is the founder of the Rural Business Collective which aims to create an entrepreneurial culture in rural Australia and increase regional economic diversity.

Fleur was recognised by the Queensland Government as a Community Digital Champion in 2016. She is always ready to put up her hand to help provide rural and regional businesses with the digital know-how that they need to help their communities thrive.

Andrew and Jocie Bate

The vision to develop small, autonomous robotic farming technology came from innovative grain and cattle farmer Andrew Bate, who’s based at Gindie, Central Queensland. He and his wife Jocie, an agricultural economist, set up Swarmfarm Robotics. Andrew and Jocie are passionate about ensuring the future generations of farmers have a vibrant, economic, and sustainable future in the cropping industry. Andrew is a mentor on the Westpac Business of Tomorrow Program.

Morgan Gronold and the team at RAPAD

The global innovation startup movement became reality in Australia’s Outback when the Startup Weekend Outback Edition was held in August at Longreach, with participants from as far as Birdsville, Tambo, Blackall and Ipswich. RAPAD are combatting distance, population sparsity and infrastructure limitations in a proactive can-do manner: In 2017, they released their Regional Digital Strategy for Central Western QLD, hosted Daniel Johnsen, Entrepreneur in Residence from the USA, and ran the Innovation Space & Technology Precinct at the WESTTECH field day in Barcaldine.

Meg Kummerow

Meg’s current focus is on bringing practical UAV (Drone) technology and advice to the farm through her new business Fly the Farm. Starting off originally as Flying AG Australia, Meg is a young pioneer who has started a drone company in regional Queensland. She was a guest speaker at Toowoomba Startup’s recent meeting.

I’ve worked with Meg for many years and admire her interest and passion for “idea creation and development” for rural industry, focusing around social media, technology integration and capacity building for the younger generation of farmers.

 Dr Ben Lyons, Former CEO Food Leaders Australia

Ben is the curator and instigator of 400M AgTech & Investment Forum, tagged as Australia’s first AgTech pitch and investment forum. Food Leaders Australia (FLA) has modelled this event on the highly successful investment-focused events in the US and Europe. First held in Toowoomba in 2016, and run again this year, 400M is a flagship event for understanding the future of AgTech in the Asia-Pacific.

Susan McDonnell

As the Northern Region Coordinator for Queensland Northern NSW and the NT for Grain Growers, Suse covers a fair bit of ground, but always arrives enthusiastic and ready to help. Suse was the first to put her hand up for CHDC’s AGTeCH17: Build it, Use it, Profit event this year and is now looking to bring the event to the Mungindi Grower Group with CHDC’s support.

She is a Special Director on the AgForce Grains Board, and an Industry Fellow at the Australian Centre for Sustainable Business and Development, USQ – all from Thallon on the NSW / Qld border.

Tim Neale

One of Australia’s first digital agronomists (I do recall him being called the world’s first digital agronomist), Tim describes himself as an AgTech veteran but remains fresh, engaged, thinking outside the box, and is always willing to travel to regional areas and contribute. Establishing DataFarming this year, with the backing of Premise Agriculture, Tim and his wife Peta Neale have been leaders in the Precision Ag space for twenty years – and have pioneered most of what you see happening in this space.

 Julia Telford

Julia lists the things she is passionate about on her website – and it shows in the work she does in the Goondiwindi region: supporting women; agriculture; sustainability and the environment; mental health awareness; regional development; and cultural diversity and awareness in regional Australia.

Julia kicked off the March tour of then-Queensland Chief Entrepreneur Mark Sowerby and his visiting panel of first-class entrepreneurs. I don’t know anyone who’s met Julia who doesn’t think she is amazing.

Read more about Julia’s work here.

Rob and Krista Watkins

For his enthusiasm and vision Rob has received numerous accolades for his inventions and food processing techniques, including Gold this year at the prestigious and internationally acclaimed Edison Awards. He and wife Krista run Natural Evolution Foods that began by transforming waste bananas into a highly nutritious food source and is now revolutionizing the banana industry where bananas are being grown for flour production. You might have seen them on ABC’s War on Waste on the weekend or hosting the Future Ago Challenge in Walkamin last month.

CHDC’s AgTeCH17: Build it, Use it, Profit Committee Members

Finally, a big thank you to the Committee of our inaugural AgTeCH event held last month in Emerald, where the smartest minds at the intersection of agriculture, machinery and technology met to explore the topics at the heart of future agricultural productivity and profitability, and showcase the latest innovations for farmers and agribusiness. We changed venue, and sold out three times at each attempt to fit more people in with 240 people in attendance on the day.

Thanks to Aaron Kiely CHCG&IA, Andrew & Jocie Bate, Chris Brennan, Darryl Anderson Komatsu, Darren Aisthorpe DAF, Emma Brotherton Monsanto, Hamish Millar Cowal Agriculture, Ross Burnett BarwinAg, Richard Weston Vanderfield, Sharna Holman DAF, Stew Brotherton CQ Ag Services, & Susan McDonnell GrainGrowers.

Across widespread geography and diverse sectors, you are all champions and have brought a sense of fund and discovery to everything you do.

Keep an eye out on the CHDC website and eNews; CHDC is leading Advance Queensland’s Advancing Regional Innovation Program for the Fitzroy region and we and our partners have more exciting things planned for 2018.

Contact Liz Alexander for more information.
E: agribusiness@chdc.com.au or M: 0429 471 511.

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