The role of Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur makes a significant impact to the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem in Queensland.
The Chief Entrepreneur is the flag-bearer for innovation and entrepreneurship in Queensland. From helping founders take their first steps to get their business off the ground, to working with government and industry to identify valuable problems that can be solved with innovation, to connecting talent to companies and creating a supportive environment.
CEO and Co-Founder of RedEye, Wayne Gerard has been appointed as Queensland’s fourth Chief Entrepreneur. Since 2012, he has been a key leader in Queensland’s innovation ecosystem after founding his tech company.
In 2015, he was named the 2015 Queensland Entrepreneur of the Year. He has also served on a number of boards, including StartUpAus and the Premier’s Business Advisory Council.
We sat down with Wayne to find out more about what he’s most looking forward to in the role.
What excited you about taking on the role?
I’ve seen the positive impact that previous Chief Entrepreneurs have had on the startup community – each one of them has brought their own unique style and experience to the role to help build a vibrant startup ecosystem across Queensland. For me, this role is an opportunity to champion innovation and entrepreneurship to help create better community and economic outcomes and to cement the value of having a competitive and sustainable innovative ecosystem in Queensland.
What were you doing before taking on this role?
I’ve been highly involved in establishing and growing our startup ecosystem. I’ve been on the board of StartupAus, the Premier’s Business Advisory Council, the Advance Queensland expert panel and have collaborated closely with our universities to encourage more students to become entrepreneurs and get involved in startups.
In 2011, I co-founded an engineering company called Waterline Projects. In 2012, I co-founded a tech company called RedEye Apps where I’m currently the CEO. RedEye provides a world class asset data management solution for organisations that own and operate critical infrastructure. We’re currently launching the world’s first bushfire simulation and predictive analytics solution to help government and our customers plan, prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from the growing risk of bushfire.
RedEye started in Brisbane with two people and has now grown to more than 80 people across offices in Brisbane, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas and Wellington, servicing customers globally.
Is there one area in particular you’re interested in focussing on?
Queensland has such an amazing and diverse economy, including high-quality food, natural resources, biotech and tourism. Innovation has a really important role to play, helping these industries to adapt to changing customer demands, and the changing global environment that we’re all experiencing after COVID-19. My goal is to help Queensland continue to build a great innovation ecosystem that helps our economy remain strong and prosperous.
Entrepreneurs are problem solvers, connecting Queensland entrepreneurs with Queensland industry and into Queensland Government to identify and solve problems with innovation. This is a key part of what I’ll be focusing on.
What sets Queensland apart in terms of innovation?
One of the things that sets Queensland’s entrepreneurs and our startup community apart is our shared values, “Give before you get” and “How can I help?”.
Queensland is the most welcoming and inclusive ecosystem I’ve seen anywhere! That’s important because it encourages and enables anyone with a good idea to have go. This is how we’ll build long-term economic prosperity for Queenslanders.
Queensland’s startup and innovation ecosystem is pretty unique. Over the last five years, since Advance Queensland was established, we’ve all worked really hard to establish hubs, new businesses and new jobs right across Queensland.
How do you see the innovation sector contributing to Queensland’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Queensland families, communities and companies have all felt the impact of COVID-19. There’s still a long way to go before the global economy recovers from COVID-19 and borders are fully opened.
Access to products, supply chains and talent will continue to be a challenge for companies, not being able to travel and visit family members overseas will weigh heavily on many Queenslanders, and a lack of international visitors and students will impact our tourism and education sectors.
The Premier and the Minister for Innovation have asked me to establish an Innovation Advisory Council. We are working with the Queensland Government to identify a range of initiatives that will help Queensland respond to COVID-19.
These include harnessing innovation to maximise the value and impact of this year’s budget and by connecting our local entrepreneurs, startups and innovative companies with our key Queensland industries like mining, tourism, agriculture and energy to innovate.
Queensland needs to build resilient and adaptable supply chains, new ways of delivering value to customers and we need to help make infrastructure projects and our transition to more sustainable greener energy, faster and more cost effective.