News & Analysis

Blue Sky founder Mark Sowerby appointed Advance Queensland’s first Chief Entrepreneur

- August 24, 2016 2 MIN READ

A few days after announcing he will be stepping down from Blue Sky Alternative Investments, Mark Sowerby has been appointed to the role of Queensland’s first Chief Entrepreneur by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

The purpose of the role is to help promote Queensland as a “startup hotspot” both within the state, around Australia, and internationally.

Essentially working as an ambassador, as Chief Entrepreneur Sowerby will be tasked with building collaboration to support business innovation, promote entrepreneurship, and advocate for the state’s tech and startup sector nationally and globally.

Announcing the news today, Palaszczuk pointed to Sowerby’s reputation in the investment community for identifying opportunities and seeing them commercialised.

“My Advance Queensland agenda isn’t just about bolstering our world-class research stocks, it’s about translating those ideas into commercial businesses. This is an outstanding appointment that will help Queensland attract more venture capital and turn ideas into businesses and jobs,” she said.

The Office of the Queensland Chief Entrepreneur is a two year initiative worth $1.5 million as part of the Startup Queensland program, part of the wider Advance Queensland Business Investment Attraction package.

Sowerby, whose appointment will run for 12 months, was chosen by an independent evaluation panel commissioned by the state government.

Luke Anear, CEO of Townsville’s SafetyCulture and part of the evaluation panel, said Sowerby’s credentials as a global alternative investment manager are “beyond reproach”, given he grew Blue Sky Investments into one of Australia’s top 300 companies.

“He knows how to harness venture capital investment to deliver real returns for clients – this is something that Queensland with its growing startup ecosystem can really benefit from. In the startup space, Queensland has some fantastic success stories and great home-grown talent,” he said.

“We need a Chief Entrepreneur of the calibre of Sowerby who can tell these success stories to Queensland, Australia and the world.”

Having founded Blue Sky in 2006, Sowerby announced he was stepping down earlier this week. With the organisation posting a record net profit of $10.5 million, Sowerby said he had been pulling back over the last 18 months.

His new appointment comes just a few months after the government upped its funding for Advance Queensland from $180 million to $405 million in its budget as it looks to accelerate the initiative and turn it into a “whole of government innovation agenda”.

The state is already making itself known internationally thanks to its HotDesQ program, through which it is looking to attract international startups to relocate to Queensland. US virtual reality platform TimeLooper was the first to announce its move, last month relocating to Creative Enterprise Australia’s offices.

Image: Mark Sowerby. Source: Supplied.