Significant digital cities | Brisbane Economic Series - Choose Brisbane

Significant digital cities

March 2015

Significant Digital Cities

Cities around the world are being transformed by the world’s “new gold rush”, jostling to form innovation networks that could create untapped riches for industries, government and communities. 

Start-up expert Colin Kinner has played a key role in the digital evolution of Brisbane and said the internet was this century’s gold rush.

“Every region in the world is looking for ways to capitalise,” Mr Kinner said.

 “City experts talk about how entrepreneurship flourishes in dense urban areas where people can bump into each and help to form these innovation networks. 

“And that means the overwhelming majority of start-up activity happens in cities, so you have to make those environments conducive to development of start-up hubs.”

Mr Kinner said cities the size of Brisbane were finding their places in the global chase for innovation industries.

Brisbane, through the work of Digital Brisbane, was the second city in the world to appoint a Chief Digital Officer to help drive economic development through digital business. 

Brisbane made a name for itself with the success of Halfbrick Studios and the Fruit Ninja computer game.

The game – one of the most downloaded apps ever – cost less than $50,000 to create in Brisbane’s inner-north suburbs.

A McKinsey study has predicted the size of the prize – the potential economic impact of disruptive digital technologies on Queensland’s economy in the next decade – is $90 billion per year. The start-up sector would have a direct impact of $5 billion per year.

To retain that value in Queensland, the McKinsey study said the state would need more than 3000 start-ups, several hundred tech companies and a “unicorn or two”.

“Unicorns are high-growth companies that achieve significant scale – a valuation of at least $1 billion,” Mr Kinner said.

“But the challenge to create a company that has the potential to become a unicorn is perhaps not as great as keeping that value within a city. If you haven’t created a major tech hub around you, that company may have to leave or establish a presence elsewhere.

“And that’s why cities like Brisbane remain on the front foot looking ahead to more opportunities in this space.”

Brisbane’s constant search for growth includes taking talented programmers to other parts of the world to learn.

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