I had an amazing couple of weeks in Far North Queensland - I got to attend the Tropical Innovation Festival in Cairns, and had some fun with my family for a few days in Port Douglas. The highlight was taking my daughter on the Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk in Mossman Gorge, where we learned about traditional bush foods, medicinal plants, and the connection between the Kuku Yalanji people and the land. It was made even more special during NAIDOC Week, with this year’s theme reminding us to Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!
It’s an incredible part of the world, and I always love heading up North and sharing it with family! – Back to my roots, it always feels like home!
I was there with Queensland Chief Entrepreneur Wayne Gerrard for the Festival, as a member of the Queensland Government Innovation Advisory Committee. The Committee connects innovators from all different sectors, and my role is to represent all things sport.
The Festival is only in its second year, and it is already making a big impact. It was a jam-packed three days for me – all made possible by the amazing Program Manager Tara Diversi and Event Manager Kate Montgomery – and it was so inspiring to see the Tropical innovation ecosystem in action. Congratulations on your amazing vision!
There is an alchemy with events like this, where people from all sectors can gather together in the same space to discuss possibilities, issues, strengths and weaknesses. I could see how excited people were to connect with each other and share ideas, and the energy events like this bring to Queensland communities. And, of course, everyone was excited about exploring opportunities re how they can be involved with the Games in 2032!
I got to meet some amazing people from regional companies, many of whom are working away humbly in their garages, trying to solve current problems experienced by their communities, and build a better, more sustainable future.
RaffleTix are innovating in the non-profit space, with a digital platform that makes fundraising simpler and more accessible for schools, sports clubs, charities and community groups. Go1 is a ‘unicorn’ tech startup that has seen incredible success with their online learning platform, and their Chief Growth Officer Vu Tran was an amazing inspiring speaker. As was Yasmin Grigaliunas, Founder and CEO of World’s Biggest Garage Sale, a social enterprise that’s building a true circular economy by sourcing, repurposing and redistributing goods that would otherwise end up in landfill. And I bought a sit-stand desk from her team! Thanks, Yas!
ProShaka also caught my attention: they have created an interactive platform to capture kids’ sporting history as it happens, kind of like a digital trophy cabinet. It’s especially exciting for emerging elite and community athletes, who can use ProShaka to track their career and connect with other athletes, coaches and clubs – I can’t wait to see how the stars of the 2032 Games will use technology like this to enable their trajectory, and enhance their storytelling about the athletes’ journey from club sport to the podium.
On my last day in Cairns, I opened the Festival's breakfast session about the mindset for success – specifically, how the Entrepreneur’s and the Athlete’s mindsets are aligned.
The more time I spend in the innovation ecosystem, the more I understand how truly similar they are. Innovators and athletes alike take on the roles of Dreamer, Goal setter, Goal getter, Problem-solver, Fundraiser…and the list goes on!
No matter what your ‘gold medal’ vision is, you set the goal and embark on the journey, one step at a time, bootstrapping with no guarantees of success. It’s the mindset and relentless resilience that drives you towards your destination.
And last but not least, as a proud Queenslander (who is even more proud after watching the mighty Maroons win the 2022 State of Origin on Wednesday night in Brisbane!) I'm so stoked to be immortalised with an Ultimate Queenslander NFT! The best way to learn about NFTs is to become one, right? These tokens are like digital trading cards, that will bring fans closer to their favourite Queensland icons, and unlock digital lands, real-world experiences, memorabilia and more. You can find out more on the Ultimate Queenslander website or check out this video.
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