The Intelligent Communities Forum has named the Sunshine Coast as one of the world’s Smart21 Communities of 2014, recognised for embracing broadband technology to deliver economic opportunities that lead to new jobs, investment and social development.
Chosen from cities around the world by a panel of seven judges from the New York-based Intelligent Community Forum, the Smart21 were announced today at a ceremony hosted by the Institute for the Study of the Intelligent Community in Ohio, USA.
Communities outlined their challenges, opportunities and results based on the five Intelligent Community Indicators (broadband connectivity, knowledge workforce, innovation, digital inclusion, marketing and advocacy) and success factors (collaboration, leadership and sustainability).
Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said the award recognised the region’s commitment to becoming a leader in the digital world.
“We are brilliantly positioned to be a leader in new technology deployment and innovation by creating opportunities through broadband and advanced technologies to create a new economy for the region – and this award further reflects that” he said.
The international recognition follows the recent selection of the Sunshine Coast as Queensland’s most web-savvy region to vie for the national Google eTown Award for 2013, which celebrates the towns and cities whose businesses are growing online and contributing to the future economic growth of Australia.
Regional Development Australia (RDA) Sunshine Coast CEO Russell Mason said the digital economy was an enabler that would drive innovation and access to multiple markets.
“As a region, we must embrace change, drive innovation and best practice to provide a platform for our creative businesses and communities to thrive into the future.”
Mr Mason said the following locally-led initiatives and successes had placed the region at the forefront of the digital economy:
- In 2013, Sunshine Coast Council was a category winner of the Australian Government’s National Awards for eGovernment which recognises excellence in providing ebusiness services to the community.
- Paypal recognized the Sunshine Coast as one of the most active online locations in Australia in 2013.
- Since 2002 the Innovation Centre business incubator at the University of the Sunshine Coast has helped 108 start-up companies create over 420 jobs and raised more than $28 million in venture capital for clients.
- The Innovation Centre was recognised in the top 25 leading global University Business Incubators Index in 2013.
- The University of the Sunshine Coast is the fastest growing regional university in Australia.
- Broadband Today Alliance (BTA) won the Digital Productivity category in the Economic Development Australia 2011 Awards for pioneering an organisation committed to developing the digital economy in Australia and enhancing the benefits of the Federal Government’s National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout.
- Local firm Poole Accounting was recently named the Xero (leading online accounting solution) Australian Partner of the Year
- The Creative Collective’s founder, Yvette Adams, was named ICT Woman of the Year 2013 at the National iAwards.
Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast CEO Mark Paddenburg said the region was emerging as a hot bed for digital innovation.
“A number of successful digital companies, such as Typefi, Optii Solutions, Commission Factory, AtMail, Cloud DC, Traffika and Creative Collective, are already based here, and are working to establish a tech community not unlike Silicon Valley,” Mr Paddenburg said.
“The region is also supported by a network of key stakeholders, including Sunshine Coast Council, Regional Development Australia Sunshine Coast and the Innovation Centre, who ensure that there are significant opportunities for new, knowledge-based businesses that can drive growth in employment and exports.”
The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) is a non-profit think tank focused on job creation and economic development in the broadband economy which impacts local communities around the world.
This year’s Smart21 comprises six communities from Canada, four from both Australia and the United States, three from Taiwan and one each from Kenya, Greece, Brazil and New Zealand. The Smart21 will be narrowed to the Top7 communities in January 2014, with the Intelligent Community of the Year to be announced next June.
For more information, go to www.intelligentcommunity.org