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Regional QLD teams dominate award nominations

Easily surpassing every other state in the country, North QLD has produced two of the total three regional finalists at this year’s StartupSmart Awards.

Along with categories such as “Best Disruptor”, “Fastest Growing Startup” and “Best Social Change Entrepreneur”, StartupSmart yesterday announced finalists for its “Best Regional Startup” Award 2015.

Townsville’s champion for workplace health and safety, SafetyCulture, and Cairns’ fast-growing meeting repository, Konveen, will battle it out with Newcastle’s caravan sharing platform Camplify at the award ceremony in Melbourne Thursday, April 16th.

The nominations prove that stories of successful regional startups are being heard and companies are finding audiences; even we at TSJ have increased coverage, with stories from Ayr to the Darling Downs to Toowoomba’s first co-working space dominating this year’s features.

SafetyCulture’s CEO Luke Anear believes that while finding large audiences will always be challenging, the team’s success has demonstrated that “being in a regional city is no barrier to the global market”.

“Our largest customer base is in the USA, followed by the UK, which we have serviced through our core engineering in Townsville,” Anear said. “We have attracted team members from as far as Italy, Sweden and France to relocate to Townsville by promoting the combination of cutting edge technology mixed with 300 days a year sunshine and the Great Barrier Reef.”

While SafetyCulture, which won global recognition last year, is over a decade old, Konveen has only just begun rollouts, and would more readily benefit from the national attention these awards will bring.

Konveen’s co-founder Nicole Hambleton is proud to be representing Cairns at the awards, and hopes their nomination helps draw attention to the cost of meetings to businesses (“$37b globally in wasted time,” by her count).

“We’re really excited to be representing Far North QLD and more specifically Cairns at the awards in Melbourne,” Hambleton said. “It validates for us that global aspirations can start in regional towns.”

Finally, on the state of regional tech companies in general, Anear believes they need to capitalise on lower overheads, find local and state government support, and “leverage local attractions and combine it with the ability to build on services, such as Amazon’s global data centres, to manage large scale product rollouts.

“We need to use our regional location to our advantage,” Anear said. “And it is great to be creating local jobs and attracting overseas engineers to contribute to the local economy, while we export our product to overseas markets.”

“It really is an interesting time to be in this space and I’m sure there are going to be many more great regional startups to come in the years ahead,” he said. “This is just the beginning.”

For a full list of award finalists, click here.

About Chris Woods

Chris Woods (@tophermwoods) is the Tech Street Journal's Editor-in-Chief. He lives in Brisbane, has worked in places like Sydney and New York (State of), and will someday update his media-news blog.