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Toowoomba Startup Weekend set to educate industry

Signalling a trend towards more themed startup events in Queensland, Toowoomba is set to host Startup Weekend EDU in May 15-17th.

A dual stream event, Startup Weekend EDU will operate with a Youth track, for budding entrepreneurs aged 18 and under, and an Education track, for education-related concepts.

Coordinator David Masefield is confident about the benefits of education to the startup industry, and vice versa.

“Education, like every industry, needs to innovate, create and develop new ideas, methods and models,” Masefield said. “It can’t sit back and do the same thing it’s done for the last 50 years and expect to produce the students of tomorrow.”

“This being said, we’re running the Startup Weekend as dual stream, encouraging not only educators, professionals and supporters to pitch innovations in education, we’re also encouraging the youth to pitch any idea and look to form a team around their ideas,” he said.

The state is seeing a noticeable increase of these vertical Startup Weekends; the event will precede Cairns’ tourism-themed Weekend by a few weeks, and follows Brisbane’s first Startup Weekend Health in March.

Startup Weekend Toowoomba is now in its second year and was co-founded by Masefield and Leanne Griffin of Startup Toowoomba, who are currently looking to build the region’s first co-working space.

The meetup has attracted a community of tech savants, designers, web gurus, developers and freelancers, who meet regularly to discuss and share opportunities to grow the Darling Down startup community. And, as in the case with Startup Weekend EDU, the group hopes to offer innovative opportunities for the community at large.

The education event has reportedly been well received, with both individuals and educational institutions showing a vested interest in the cause.

“Toowoomba has a large number of schools, including many that focus on providing education to students from far West and Central West Queensland, as well as boarding schools in Northern regional NSW,” Masefield said. “TAFE South West are also very interest in innovation in education and the trades industry, while USQ is home to the Australian Digital Futures Institute and the National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture.”

“We’re expecting these school-based participants will get the same benefits from any Startup Weekend.”

While great traction has been gained in the surrounding Toowoomba area, the event is open to all educational facilities across Queensland.

“This is a great way to introduce lean startup and entrepreneurial thinking into the education sector,” Masefield said.

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