I had the pleasure of joining Brisbane’s who’s who of the start-up and innovation community at the Microsoft Innovation Centre launch on Tuesday May 22nd. The initiative aims to enable and inspire new start-ups in Queensland, ultimately growing the local software ecosystem. With the opening of the Queensland office, the number of Microsoft Innovations Centre’s worldwide is 102.

The Centre is situated on the 28th floor at 400 George Street, Brisbane. With floor to ceiling windows, the office has fabulous views, complemented by funky furniture, spacious common areas, hot-desking and a paperless office philosophy. Now it also has a plaque to commemorate the launch.

Brisbane Microsoft Innovation Centre launch

Brisbane Microsoft Innovation Centre launch

Innovation comes dressed in hoodies, suits, dresses, overalls, lab coats  and even school uniforms. As you can see from the photos there were a lot of suits, but to Microsoft’s credit the invitation was both free and open to anyone interested in the innovation space. Mingling at the event you could not help to bump into Yaro Starak, (@yarastarak) of Entrepreneurs Journey, enjoying the duck canapés, Kay Lam-MacLeod (@idealaw) independent IT lawyer tweeting live, online video marketing guru Gideon Shalwick (GideonShalwick) and Mr Brisbane, Mark Paddenburg, who joined Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast as their CEO in January 2012. Other attendees included QUT Creative Enterprises, iLab (yes iLab is still around), Gold Coast Innovation Centre, and River City Labs.

Sharon Schoeborn - Microsoft State Director

Sharon Schoeborn – Microsoft State Director

The event was emceed by Emily Easterby (@EmilyJEasterby) and featured Microsoft State Director, Sharon Schoeborn, Microsoft Director of Public Sector Michael Gration, Director of Innovation Partnership with Qld Gov Melanie Anderson and the Honourable Ros Bates MP(@RosBates), Minister for Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts Family HQ.

When it was Christopher Tia, Start-Up Mentor and Principle of Lean Market Research turn, the video screen broke down,

Family HQ - I think Jase Farmer CEO

Family HQ – I think Jase Farmer CEO

 and ironically in a room full of nerds (poor IT guys) and geeks (rich IT guys) no-one seemed to be able to get it to start again. Fittingly for the launch we heard from some entrepreneurs; I did not catch his name, but I think entrepreneur Jase Farmer CEO of Family HQ (www.familyhq.com) spoke. He was followed by entrepreneur, owner and of co-founder of the gaming company Mammoth Media and industry partner David Harrison, who captivated the audience with his infectious enthusiasm. The takeaways from the launch speeches were;

  • government needs to get out of the way of innovation;
  • seed stage funding is missing from Brisbane; and
  • in terms of education too many people have the default game plan ‘I will get a job’.

The launch of Queensland Microsoft Innovation Centre is a positive recognition of the

Heather Smith & Kay Lam-MacLeod (@idealaw) at Brisbane Microsoft Innovation Centre Launch

Heather Smith & Kay Lam-MacLeod (@idealaw) at Brisbane Microsoft Innovation Centre Launch

many smart micro and small businesses we have in South East Queensland, and throughout Queensland. Per capita, Australia has 1/16th of the venture capital funding that US has, and hopefully this initiative will enhance the innovation and start-up community.

If you are interested in finding out more about Microsoft Innovation Centre, which sometime uses the US spelling of ‘Center’ visit:- http://blogs.msdn.com/b/ejeasterby/

The next events, according to the website are:-

Bizspark Kinect Start-Up Weekend at the Queensland Microsoft Innovation Centre  June 15-17th

Brisbane Bizspark Lunch with Colin Kinner June 20th