If the terms ‘startup’, ‘entrepreneurial ecosystem’ and ‘collaborative environment’ get your motor running then you’re definitely reading the right rag, but more specifically you’ve come to the right page.
If you’re not already familiar with the workings of Innovate NQ (iNQ) then you soon will be. It’s been a startup for startups in the Townsville region since 2014—the hive attracting North Queensland’s innovators, creatives and entrepreneurs to connect, mentor and inspire each other to ‘have a crack’ at building their empire, with a little help from like-minded goal seekers.
“The beauties of the startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem are the collisions that happen, unplanned, that generate real innovation and effective community impacts,” iNQ founder John Williams stated.
“Ask a question and the answer is either, ‘I can help you’ or ‘I know someone who can help you – no strings attached’. Why? Because we grow everything, together!”
At the face of it, iNQ is a communal office space where Townsville’s venture builders can establish and grow their vision, free of administrative stresses. At its core, iNQ is a centre for innovation, collaboration and forward-thinking, which happens to also provide your basic office facilities like desks, offices, meeting rooms, kitchen amenities, lounges and high-speed broadband.
Through the ‘awe-inspiring efforts and vision’ of a local conglomerate, iNQ has grown to provide many startups the space to achieve their goals at a pace that suits them. John said it’s about growing through diversity and complementarity.
“Bringing groups, especially founders together with creative, tech, business, financial, mentoring, learning and human-centric skills, experience and resources is iNQ’s purpose,” John explained.
“Not an easy task unless our community understand the ‘safe house’ that iNQ is. We also introduce our community to people who have done it; building a collaborative, entrepreneurial culture in an informal, responsive, relatable environment. Part of this is getting these establishments beyond what they’ve done in the past to look at how the world is changing, how the market is evolving and what the jobs of the future look like. That requires a change in culture and a more open, less formalised approach in how we’ve done business previously.”
So, that’s what iNQ do. But this tactical powerhouse is striving for more; to build on the vast pool of resources, skills and experience that reside in our great region and move forward as a larger, more collaborative ‘ecosystem’ which delivers collective and individual goals with realistic outcomes for the entire community.
And what will that look like exactly?
In terms of bricks and mortar, iNQ envisages a move into the old South Townsville Transit Centre on Plume Street with a renovation that will accommodate not just startups from North Queensland, but from around the globe. This exciting move has already attracted interest from Townsville City Council, Townsville Creative Industries, Townsville Business Development Centre, Central Queensland University and James Cook University to utilise the space going forward.
“The vision is to create a space including work bays, collaborative spaces, a space to host large events and training with accommodation so that visiting entrepreneurs, business people, investors can all work, stay and play in the one space,” John said.
“We also have interest from two groups in the U.S. that want to run live-in accelerator programs that could run weeks to months. They want a place where it’s not just about the work, but it’s more economically accessible in an exotic location for their marketing factor where 12 people can work together at all times, even in their PJs, because they become so intense and focused that they work on this 18-20 hours a day.”
Already at the forefront of this world of venture capital building for the future, John foresees the bigger, bolder, more spacious iNQ having the potential to host between 20 to 30 startups or business at the same time. While he’s simply responding to the demand out there for this creative space to congregate and conquer, he also acknowledges the need for funding support to help kick off their new project. But he believes if we build it together, they will most certainly come!
“We live in a region with enough people to sustain these activities together, but if we run these programs individually, they won’t remain viable in the long term,” he said.
“If we do them together, we will see greater uptake and more diverse participation resulting in greater outcomes for the products, services, businesses and community. Many still don’t recognise the simple fact that no one organisation has all of the skills and resources in Townsville or North Queensland to go it alone. However, between us all, we have more than enough to drive the collaborative environment that results in all parts of the ecosystem moving forward, achieving our collective AND individual goals together. BOLDSVILLE; have a crack!”