I escaped the anti-intellectual confines of Brisbane, capital of Queensland, many years ago but often venture back to see what’s happening. And there is stuff happening! Monocle magazine in the UK - the Hipster’s Times - recently included Brisbane in their top twenty of the world’s most liveable cities.
In an Australian State with a monocular view of the world this comes as a bit of a surprise. The current Premier of Queensland has stated many times he is in the business of coal mining. This affection for the world’s dumbest industry along with the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef doesn’t usually make me think “great stimulating place to live”. But the people are nice See what Punxie and the Poison Pens think of the Premier.
Monocle has uncovered another side of Brisbane that gives hope that some time in the future Queensland will have an economy based on a vision other than environmental wasteland – they have dug up a thriving Startup community. The irony of a bunch of geeks and entrepreneurial wannabes creating new industry on their coal-powered rare-earth laptops is not lost on me but sometimes you have to break an egg to make…
So in a State where the majority of work requires leaving home and family to work in the mines it is great to see necessity raising a new breed who, regardless of their political outlook, haven taken the view that they will leapfrog local employment deficiencies and play on the world economic stage instead. A number of startups are based in and around Brisbane and in the city itself there are several collaborative workspaces where bright shiny young things (and a few crusty grey hairs) can get together, swap ideas and form liaisons and alliances that may well take them on to the ‘next big thing’. Hope springs eternal in these spaces yet the ideas and emerging businesses are solid. For example Expedia has just announced a purchase of local brand Wotif for AU$703M.
The link above lists some of the major workspaces and in addition to these I also visited a new player, The Swarm, situated down in the sleepy end of the very funky West End. All have similar models of rentable shared workspace with various other incentives such as collaboration, pitching and venture contacts all thrown in to entice the next big entrepreneur. The benefits of these spaces are well known – working with like-minded creative freelancers, airing your crazy/brilliant idea, comfortable fast environments, access to venture funds if needed and a small step that takes your dream out of the spare bedroom and begins its long road of socialisation.
So Brissie, once mainly known for crooked cops and pineapples, continues on its path to maturity in areas such as the arts and now its economy can hopefully throw off the shackles off the quarry mentality as it develops a thriving and robust startup community focussed on a 21st century economy.