Is Brisbane becoming the innovation capital of Australia?

The Brisbane 2032 Summer Olympics has the opportunity to create a breeding ground for tech innovation

What if becoming ‘The Innovation Capital’ is Brisbane Olympics greatest legacy?

By Ed Chung, Chief Executive Officer of TechnologyOne

South-East Queensland will always be famed for its lifestyle, proximity to beaches, great weather and schools and cheaper housing than Sydney. But the Brisbane 2032 Summer Olympics also opens an opportunity to establish ourselves as something else. Something new. Something long term. Something where people come to see the games, but then stay to work, invest, live and thrive.

Rockhampton didn’t become the Beef Capital straight after the establishment of its first meatworks enterprise in the 1870s. It took more than a century for the city to hold the largest concentration of beef cattle in Australia and a pivotal event – the world’s largest bull sale of pure Brahmans in 1987 – to truly cement this reputation.

For countries and governments around the world, hosting the Olympics is all about legacy. Stimulating long-term value and growth will be key for Queensland. If we are clever and deliberate, the Olympics could be the event that turns to local industry and innovation to put Brisbane – and Queensland – on the map. As the CEO of the leading Brisbane-based tech company, my vote goes to Brisbane becoming Australia’s official Innovation capital – and the good news is we are well on the way.

Queensland is already a heavy hitter in technology and innovation. Sports tech is thriving, with notable companies like Vald and Smartabase leading the way. We have an international reputation for biotech – just look at the role UQ, a world-leading Brisbane university played in developing a COVID19 vaccine. Add to that thousands of start-ups driven by innovative people who think differently and want to put their ideas on the world stage. My very own company, TechnologyOne, started here in Brisbane, and now as an ASX100 company, more than 35 years later we remain headquartered in Brisbane while competing and winning against the world's largest multinationals.

The Tech Council recently released a major report on tech jobs and tech hubs around the country. It found, from early 2020, tech jobs have experienced a fivefold growth rate compared to all other occupations in Queensland. With 140 000 tech workers, Queensland makes up 4 per cent of Australia’s tech workforce. This figure is expected to grow to 185,000 by 2030, making it three times larger than Queensland’s agricultural industry today.   In our business we say ‘Fortitude Valley, not Silicon Valley’ and the report showed that this is a truth, not a slogan - Inner Brisbane added a substantial 10,000 tech jobs in the last ten years.

Tech hubs, like Silicon Valley, are a magnet for tech talent. Microsoft is synonymous with its hometown of Seattle and has made that city a long-term future with infrastructure, restaurants, retail and professional services all existing due to the halo effect. People move to these places for a great career in tech.

The Brisbane 2032 Olympics has the potential to create a breeding ground for innovation in the lead up to, and in the delivery of the games, but we need to ensure this legacy lives well past the closing ceremony. Fostering a reputation as an innovation capital relies on local grit and determination, but also deliberate investment and commitment from all levels of government and industry. This is what will ensure long term legacy.

Brisbane, and in fact Queensland, is already an amazing place to forge a future. Let’s use the Olympics to make this official.

Publish date

13 Sep 2023