Goondiwindi local Julia Spicer has been appointed as Queensland's next chief entrepreneur, and from December is set to take over the voluntary position currently held by Wayne Gerard.
Spicer, who holds an Order of Australia medal (OAM), is an experienced business leader and has a particularly intimate understanding of regional Australia and the unique challenges faced by businesses outside of major cities.
Coming from a background in environmental science, Spicer founded her first business Engage & Create Consulting in the border town of Goondiwindi a decade ago, with that business set to celebrate its 10th birthday this December.
Engage & Create was founded to help local businesses with strategy and ideas, particularly focusing on grant writing and sponsorship. In the years after founding the consulting business, Spicer started the Goondiwindi Business Hub which began as a co-working space but now also offers long-term tenancies to small businesses and acts as an incubator, meeting space and hub for businesses in the region.
Spicer also currently holds a number of major roles, including chairperson of the Global Entrepreneurship Network Australia and is a member of the Queensland Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport’s Innovation Advisory Council.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was confident Spicer would keep the state’s ‘innovation light shining’.
“Mrs Spicer has founded and grown several successful regional businesses within her current hometown of Goondiwindi, and has been a champion for start-up and business entrepreneurialism in rural, regional and remote communities,” the Premier said.
“She is an active member of Queensland’s Innovation Advisory Council and has received many awards and achievements, including being one of the Australian Financial Review’s 2018 top 100 Women of Influence.
“In 2022, she was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for service to the community through a range of organisations.”
Palaszczuk also thanked outgoing chief entrepreneur Gerard, who will continue to provide his experience and advice on the Brisbane 2032 Legacy Committee.
“Wayne was instrumental in developing our new Innovation Roadmap, setting up the Innovation Advisory Council and over his term he has generously provided his time, experience and expertise to support innovation in Queensland,” the Premier said.
“I want to thank Wayne for all his work in this voluntary role over the past 18 months and wish him well on his future endeavours.”
Spicer said she hoped to continue Gerard’s work, and would focus on building a sustainable and resilient innovation ecosystem, helping businesses in the state scale at a sustainable rate.
“I look forward to helping to ensure all Queenslanders have access to the innovation ecosystem, no matter where they are located or what their background is to drive the Queensland economy across all corners of the state,” she said.
“We have so much talent in Queensland, and I want to shine a spotlight on the quality people and products that Queensland produces to the world stage and also to traditional Queensland industries to build a culture of innovation and success, both locally and globally.”
Speaking to Business News Australia, the incoming chief entrepreneur said she would be splitting her time between Brisbane and the state's regional hubs, and hopes to shine a light on entrepreneurs from all parts of Queensland.
"Like the chiefs before me, we really try and make sure that we are able to visit all the various regions - so I think there will be a lot of time on the road," Spicer said.
"I'm really looking forward to being able to get around, connect people and amplify the work that's happening.
"Hopefully we can also help people from Brisbane get out to the regions and see other great parts of Queensland and the innovation that's happening there."
Innovation Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said he was excited to welcome Queensland’s new Chief Entrepreneur.
“Julia Spicer’s impressive career in rural, regional and remote business start-ups makes her an excellent choice for Queensland’s next Chief Entrepreneur,” Hinchliffe said.
“We want to tap into innovation and entrepreneurship in regional Queensland and deliver opportunities to grow ideas, create jobs and prosper in the emerging global future economy.
“As an Order of Australia medal recipient for services to rural and regional communities, Julia Spicer understands what makes regional Queensland tick and how to champion start-ups to thrive.”
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