Myriad Live 2017 with CEO Mark Paddenburg from Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast

Myriad live with CEO Mark Paddenburg from Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast

Posted by BeachCity on Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Video Transcription:

Chris: Can I go? We're back at Beach City Life on Facebook and I have Mark Patternberg from Innovation Sunshine Coast. Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast and you're the CEO there. What do you guys do up there?

Mark: The Innovation Centre is all about supporting entrepreneurs and innovators on the Sunshine Coast. There's a lot of them and we've been around since 2002, so we're celebrating our 15 year anniversary. We've had over 182 innovators and entrepreneurs in the Centre over that time. We've helped raise 33 million dollars for those companies. They've employed over 780 people. Put 60 million in salary into the Sunshine Coast up until 2015, between 2002 and 15. They're certainly having an impact. A lot of those entrepreneurs are growing. They're globalising and I've got my dream job.

Chris: Excellent. Excellent. So you started this yourself and is it government funded in any way?

Mark: It was, it's a wholly identity of the University of the Sunshine Coast. Colin Bryan was the initial CEO. I took over in 2012. The models working really well. We've got now food accelerator programmes. We're going to have a health well-being, medical type accelerator later in the year. We've got a range of innovative members in clean tech, professional services, digital, even disability service a range of entrepreneurs and food and agri business growing, health well-being aligns with our region too, so it's pretty exciting at the moment.

Chris: What's the diversity of age like?

Mark: Good question. The age of the average founder would be about 38-40, so there's a little bit of grey hair in there, but we're seeing a lot of younger millennials coming through, students. I think that average age will finally start to decline and we'll see more women in there too which is great.

Chris: Absolutely. I have to ask, being on the Sunshine Coast, imagine you've travelled a bit as well?

Mark: I have. I've certainly travelled through Europe and worked in London for a while. I've worked in Beijing and grew up in Melbourne. Sunshine Coast, there's no better place and people like Bernard Salt, Mark Sowby that we were just talking to, recognise that somethings happened in the last five to ten years on the Sunshine Coast. It's becoming a destination of choice for entrepreneurs. There's always been a lot there and I think as the baby boomers, empty-nesters, realise that Melbourne, Sydney and even Brisbane, there's a lot of alternative options for them and the Sunshine Coast will attract a lot of those people.

Chris: Beautiful. There's been a healthy rivalry cause you know I'm from the Gold Coast and I want to say that the Gold Coast is the same. I think it's healthy, that rivalry. What do you think?

Mark: Absolutely. I think Brisbane is the winner. They're fortunate they're book-ended by Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast. I spent five years growing up on the Gold Coast as well and learnt to surf there. Love the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast is very different. You know got the 17 villages, there's a little bit more green space. They're different which is great. I think that choice and the diversity is a good thing for southeast Queensland. I personally think globally we really should be positioning this region as SEQ, Southeast Queensland, Queensland. You know Paris, London, those big cities, they're really three four hundred kilometre type zones.

Chris: And so the green spaces, the beaches, how important do you think that is to indulge in immersing yourself in those kinds of places to be successful in business?

Mark: Well I think they are places where people can do their creative thinking, brain storming, recharge their batteries. I've spent a lot of time in capital cities and that stress around the traffic and the grind does wear entrepreneurs down and we hear that. The entrepreneurs had their surf in the morning, their brains fresh, their thinking, they're focused on the business. They have that flexibility, so I think it's a key thing about supporting entrepreneurs and their families.

Chris: So are gone are the days, nine to five?

Mark: They are. If the surf's up some of our founders will be surfing. With that said they'll be there till midnight or they'll be there working on the weekends. The Innovation Centre is open 24/7. We've got 300 MG fibre connexions and they're communicating with their customers in America and Europe at all sorts of hours. Entrepreneurs here are born global, so we must be connecting at all hours.

Chris: That also reminds me that, you know, we should be enjoying the journey.

Mark: Absolutely.

Chris: Not waiting for 10 years for us to feel like we've reached a milestone and now we can relax and put our feet up or if we want to or get out there and lose that weight that we gained over the last 10 years. Would you say you're an entrepreneur yourself? Have you ...

Mark: Yeah. I've been involved in two start-ups and advising hundreds of start-ups. Was very fortunate in my young years, at the University and other places, working with entrepreneurs that have already started their tech start-ups. I totally agree that the journey, it's a long and arduous journey, lots of ups and downs. I think when you look at the start-ups in say Silicone Valley, they have a massive celebration when they hit their milestones and I think Queensland is a little bit more modest in celebrating those wins. They might do a quick high five and then moving on to the next task. That's great but we've got to spend the time to reward the founder and the team and say, "Hey, well done. We've made some progress." And enjoy the journey.

Chris: Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. So if you had to give yourself a call 20 years ago, not sure if that's, if you're that old, but what would be some advice you would give yourself around this space?

Mark: Think bigger, bolder. Do it faster. Back yourself early. Don't leave that great idea too long. Just as Mark Sowby and others say, "Just start, just get going." Steve Baxter as well. Get that idea, take it to market, build a team around it and be bold and think really big.

Chris: On the back of a lot of start-ups, starting because they've had an idea and they've gotten funding or they, what's your advice around, I'm the entrepreneur, I've got no resources, I can't get funding, should I still have a crack?

Mark: Absolutely. Definitely and leave the funding as long as you can. Really prove to yourself and your team that you have got something that stands out from the crowd, that is competitive. Test it out. Get that minimal viable product. Really thrash it out before you take any money, if you can. Get into revenue before you take money. The best money that you can raise is through revenue from your customers. I personally believe that the start-ups, some of them spend too much time chasing the investment when they should be putting that time and effort into their company, building customers, building traction. Take the money through the hockey stick, build that scale and the J curve. That's how you can deploy your capital most effectively.

Chris: How are we faring in terms of innovation in Australia? Are we red, amber or a green light at the moment?

Mark: I think we're still in the amber heading towards green. Things have improved a lot. There's a lot of entrepreneurs that tax policies a lot better. The funding is easier to access and easier to access in America as well. We're certainly competitive on the innovation, the skills, the thinking. As a location, there's still more work to be done, by government as well. Advance Queensland has been excellent for Queensland and the Sunshine Coast. The ASIC Industry Funding, NISA, the National Innovation and Science Agenda is excellent. What we need though is all politicians from both sides to commit to long term policies and plans and support for innovators every five 10 year period. Not the political cycle. The start-ups that I've talked to, they're really over the politics, they want long term certainty in planning. That's what our competitors have in Singapore, in America and Europe and Israel. They've got long term certainty about why entrepreneurs and innovators are important and they're backed by their governments. We need the same.

Chris: Great. Well you answered my next question. How our government's faring? So thanks very much for that Mark. It's been absolute pleasure talking to you.

Mark: Thank you.

Chris: We're here at Marriott live. Please follow us on Beach City Life on Facebook. Make sure you share it out if you're on Facebook as well.

Mark: I certainly will. Yep.

Chris: Everybody that's watching, you share it too

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