Qld govt out to prove it can do business with start-ups

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Qld govt out to prove it can do business with start-ups

SMEs say they want exposure more than money.

The Queensland government has sunk $25,000 into a local start-up aiming to co-opt staff and citizen mobile phones into a state-wide gauge of cellular network health.

The tool is one of four solutions the government is backing as part of its testing within government (TWiG) innovation program.

The $25,000 seed funding will pay for a 12-week sprint to a minimum viable product that will be trialled by public sector users.

The money - $100,000 for all four projects - comes out of the state’s $405 million ‘Advance Queensland’ business innovation program designed to give local knowledge industries a leg up. 

Victor Nicholls runs MacroGIS, a Queensland software house whose mapping and visualisation software underpins the mobile coverage crowdsourcing app currently being built in partnership with developers from FlowBiz.

The app is designed to run in the background of a phone or other cellular device, constantly pinging the network to record signal strength fluctuations according to time of day, location, crowding, and other conditions, to diagnose blackspots and performance issues.

The data collected from participants is then layered against MacroGIS’ geographic and demographic data sets to create business intelligence that could prove valuable to telcos, governments, lobby groups and even holidaymakers who don’t want to get stuck camping in a mobile deadzone.

Nicholls told iTnews he envisioned the app might be something a local government organisation or telco would load onto corporate devices to start collecting their own data as workers go about their day-to-day duties in the field.

In a statement, Innovation Minister Leeanne Enoch said the program was intended to give local startups “valuable experience delivering products and services to large enterprises”.

“It is about changing the way state government agencies approach procurement and providing greater access for SMEs to access opportunities to supply services,” she said.

Governments across Australia are grappling with the same policy conundrums as they struggle to pick the gems out of what can be a vast ocean of SMEs and seemingly innovative business pitches, rather than returning to the same corporate suppliers time and again.

In NSW, Innovation Minister Victor Dominello has signed off on a $1 million tender-free threshold that will allow agencies to enter into direct negotiations with small business to run pilots of innovative solutions.

Down in Canberra, the Digital Transformation Office is busily signing start-ups and SMEs to its digital marketplace, which will allow federal and NSW agencies to pick from suppliers who respond to outcomes-based briefs for digital services.

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