Bundaberg Regional Council’s support for agriculture and innovation won praise at Thursday’s Hinkler Innovation Series event.
Initiatives such as the Bargara AgTech Hub and Bundaberg Jobs Commitment were recognised as leading the way for local government investment in developing skills and opportunities.
Hinkler Innovation Award winner Jamie Olsen said Council’s support was “simply outstanding”.
With a long family connection to the Bundaberg Region, Mr Olsen founded CMB Capital. He mentors young entrepreneurs and grows businesses from concept to multimillion-dollar success stories.
“I was blown away by what’s happening in the region,” he said.
“Just from looking at the activity and what the students are doing, listening to the speakers and seeing what CQU are doing, I think Bundaberg Council has really taken a leadership position.
“When I talk to other non-profits around the country who are focused on regional Australia, it’s very clear that Bundaberg is at the forefront of driving a lot of this change.
“We have some natural advantages here in agriculture, tourism and the liveability of the region.
“We’ve got some world-class technology business, world-scale businesses, already basing themselves out of Bundaberg.
“We need to build around that.”
Mr Olsen said the AgTech Hub was a “great start” to build on existing foundations in agriculture.
“We’ve got a lot to look forward to in the future,” he said.
The recently opened AgTech Hub is already home to highly skilled professionals with expertise in research, testing, technology and data analysis. It’s designed to deliver new and innovative agricultural technologies under the Hinkler Regional Deal.
Guest speaker Associate Professor Ben Lyons, Director of the Rural Economics Economies Centre of Excellence, said investing in AgTech was a “fantastic initiative” for the region.
“It’s an attractive place to bring businesses from outside into the region,” he said.
“I think you’re on a real winner here at Bundaberg.”
Assoc Prof Lyons told Bundaberg Now the AgTech Hub has huge potential.
“I say that from a little bit of expertise from looking at a lot of hubs and how hubs operate and trying to set one up in Toowoomba for a number of years,” he said.
“I think you’ve got a really good operation here, repurposing that building (former Council offices) and that site and using the energy that comes from a private company like Greensill.
“I also think the university has a strong role there. It’s good for the university to be embedded in that and it’s also good for the NRM group (Burnett Mary Regional Group).”
Assoc Prof Lyons said the hub had been well designed and had exciting prospects to improve agriculture in the region.
- Other news: Red Dirt research through Hinkler AgTech initiative