Sunshine Coast firing up regional tech startup culture with opening of Ocean City Labs

Sunshine Coast firing up regional tech startup culture with opening of Ocean City Labs

L-R: GISP project manager Cynthia Gusman-Nolan, Sunshine Coast Council mayor Mark Jamieson and ACS Director of Innovation Labs Pauline Fetaui (Provided)

A Maroochydore-based tech hub working with River City Labs has officially opened its doors, bringing together entrepreneurs on the Sunshine Coast to establish a network that will support budding regional startups. 

Ocean City Labs (OCL) was born out of a partnership between Australian Computer Society (ACS)-owned River City Labs, alumni of River City Labs and geotechnical engineering software company TabLogs. 

The hub, located at 2-4 Ocean Street, was officially opened this week by Sunshine Coast Council mayor Mark Jamieson, along with ACS director of Innovation Labs Pauline Fetaui and TabLogs co-founder Declan Vanderhor.

Founded in 2018, Brisbane-based TabLogs allows drillers and engineers to generate borehole logs, site plans and sample registers onsite within seconds, eliminating the need for data entry back in the office.

A Sunshine Coast resident, Vanderhor saw the new hub as an opportunity to connect with his local community of technologists and entrepreneurs.

"We already have a few tech businesses working in Ocean City Labs and we’ve only just opened. It’s exciting working in a space where we all get to learn from each other. We can’t wait to welcome other emerging businesses to Ocean City Labs,” Vanderhor says.

Fetaui adds: “It’s fantastic the Sunshine Coast’s growing ecosystem of entrepreneurs, investors, and technologists are creating a swirl of innovation and harnessing local talent in the local community.”

Founded in 2012, River City Labs is based in inner-Brisbane's Fortitude Valley, and is part of the ACS group of innovation services that includes labs in Sydney (Harbour City Labs), Melbourne (Bay City Labs), as well as emerging tech trade mission brand Startup Catalyst. Since its inception, more than 950 entrepreneurs have been part of the accelerator.

The opening of OCL comes five years after ACS acquired River City Labs from Shark Tank star Steve Baxter for an undisclosed sum. The sale was advised by Brisbane-based law firm McCullough Robertson.

River City Labs' programs and services will be offered to all OCL members digitally, giving them access to networks designed to help their companies scale.

Sunshine Coast Council mayor Mark Jamieson says the Coast is rapidly building a profile as the ideal location for start-ups and emerging technology.

“It’s great we are responding to that demand by having a presence for potential innovators and tech entrepreneurs to come to the heart of Maroochydore and enjoy the benefits of this facility,” Jamieson says.

“Ocean City Labs is a great example of the work being done to build our innovation ecosystem and ensure that our region remains a leading place to live, learn, work and play.”

The opening was followed by a panel discussion joined by McCullough Robertson corporate partner Ben Wood, Skalata venture partner, Finch co-founder Shahirah Gardner, and Vanderhor, who all explored the current economic headwinds and strategies for emerging technologies globally. The panel was moderated by Fetaui.

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