News & Analysis

Fire Station 101 in Ipswich is regional Queensland’s newest innovation hub

- March 22, 2016 2 MIN READ
Ipswich has a new innovation hub, with Fire Station 101 opening earlier this month. Formerly known as the Ipswich Fire Station, the new hub will provide entrepreneurs with connections, tools and mentoring to help build the tech startup community in the regional area.

Ipswich is one of Queensland’s fastest growing regions and has been recognised as an area with emerging social impact enterprises, and smart digital city and virtual reality technology. The job of the innovation hub is to provide a landing pad and facilitate conversation between entrepreneurs and industry leaders to help create jobs in Ipswich and products that can be exported and scaled.

Fire Station 101 will be offering 55 desks, event training spaces, and IoT demonstrators. Upcoming events in the next few months include coding schools, hackathons and startup weekends to help solve community issues through technology and innovation. The space also has a team of mentors ready to provide help with IT and business and data development, and has received support from around the Queensland startup community, including River City Labs and INQ in Townsville.

“Being in regional communities is very collaborative, because it’s just us. The amount of support we’ve got from the innovation ecosystem is absolutely incredible. People coming along and asking that wonderful question ‘how can we help?’” said community member Chad Renando.

Fire Station 101 is also working with local council, giving it access to all the partners and supply chains that already exist within council. The community has leveraged the council’s supply chain to partner with Accenture, CISCO, Reco, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Biz Spark. Fire Station 101 is also working alongside the local chamber of commerce and the local rotary club.

Fire Station 101 is one of the only innovation hubs in Australian to launch as an initiative of the local city council, with the Mayor recognising an opportunity to drive innovation and visual technology in Ipswich by looking at other examples of hubs in Chicago and New Zealand.

Thanks to this support, Fire Station 101 has been able to leverage the partners and supply chains that already exist within council, giving the community access to Accenture and CISCO, as well as hub partners Reekoh, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Biz Spark.

Renando explained the opportunity in regional areas like Ipswich is to focus on community strengths, by asking what that region has to offer.

“We don’t want to create another inner city hub or another Silicon Valley, we want to create something for Ipswich,” he said.

Regional innovation hubs focus on delivering community outcomes and creating viable jobs and scalable creative businesses that start in the community and expand outward.

“If you don’t, what ends up happening is you get the people leaving the community because the only way people can access those things is in the city,” said Renando.

The hub now has 20 members signed up, with an acquisition write up of four members a week. The members are working on diverse projects, including everything from virtual reality and games, business applications and creative arts through to smart digital solutions, parking solutions, social enterprise and social impact projects, and scalable solutions for bricks and mortar companies.

Ronando said Fire Station 101 is for everyone who wants to find innovative solutions to community problems, because “digital technology can help scale and grow almost any business.”

Image: Chad Renando and Joe Hoolahan.