Rhys Knight

Is Brisbane doing enough to encourage and engage with digital programmers, designer and thinkers? The business community still relegates tech pros to the back seats rather than encouraging their engagement within a very established club.

In some quarters of the country, Brisbane is seen as backward – nothing could be further fro the truth. We are home to a vibrant and under-sung community of creators and thought leaders who are only dragged into the public eye on special occasions and often for patronising half complements in the same vein as a child who does well on a spelling test. What is backward in Brisbane is our tendency to not embrace new ideas and innovation when we should be grasping for them, not as a novelty but as a means to build a platform from which our economy can grow.

The mining boom is over and regardless of whether you believe it will return or not, general consensus is that coal and iron ore are in for a long cold winter. Brisbane has the capacity to build itself into a powerhouse of technology, not through infrastructure (technology on the ground does not a digital economy make) but rather through the funding, support and growth of ‘champion’ businesses. Brisbane itself becomes an investor and allows small organisations to grow and flourish, where at the moment due in no small part to a lack of VC investment, businesses are growing and stagnating or being purchased by businesses that shouldn’t have the ability to do so. It’s time to encourage growth and empower owners to take the next step in the evolution of their ideas without having to risk the family home or out ridiculously short timeframes on performance as as result of choking loans.

Not one of our mayoral candidates seems to even see this part of our economy as important, instead focusing on infrastructure growth as if ‘Brisbane as a being’ is going to develop something on it’s own. We need to have the courage in invest in more than just minerals from the ground and take it to the rest of the world – how about an innovation sector in the CBD where entrepreneurs and established businesses can mix together and create and talk and network? I’d go for a coffee there just to feel a part of something bigger.

If we wait any longer, we’ll be too far behind the digital revolution to even be involved. You can’t innovate slowly – that’s why it’s called innovation.