Fifth Queensland Chief Entrepreneur appointed

Regional businesswoman and recipient of the Order of Australia Julia Spicer has been appointed Queensland’s new chief entrepreneur, replacing incumbent Gerard Wayne in the voluntary role.

Ms Spicer, who is the fifth prime minister appointed since taking office in 2016, will succeed Mr Wayne when he ends his 18-month tenure in early December.

InnovationAus.com understands that the expected tenure of the CEO is approximately 18 months, but this is at the discretion of the incumbent as the role is unpaid.

Former CEOs Mark Sowerby and Steve Baxter served for about a year, while Lynn Kemp served for more than two years.

In a statement released by the State Government, Mr Gerrard said he was “thrilled to hand over the reins to Julia Spicer, who brings a great regional innovation perspective and experience to the role”.

“Julia’s collaborative skills will open up many opportunities for Queensland entrepreneurs and innovators,” Mr Gerard said.

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Julie Spicer with acting chief entrepreneur Gerard Wayne. Image: Twitter

Ms Spicer takes on the role at the recommendation of the state’s innovation minister, Stirling Hinchliffe, having sat on the government’s Innovation Advisory Council since April. Since August, he has also been Chair of the Australian Global Entrepreneurship Network.

Ms Spicer is a director of Engage and Create Consulting, which she founded in December 2012, and has also served as a director of office space provider Goondiwindi Business Hub since December 2013.

In January, Ms Spicer received an Order of Australia for her service to regional and rural communities.

Announcing the appointment in a speech to Queensland Parliament on Wednesday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk highlighted Ms Spicer’s achievements.

“Ms Spicer has extensive experience in Queensland business and innovation. He has founded and grown several successful regional businesses in his current home town of Goondiwindi and has been a champion of startups and business entrepreneurship in rural, regional and remote communities,” he told Parliament.

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Innovation Minister Stirling Hinchcliffe similarly said Julia Spicer’s impressive career in rural, regional and remote business start-ups makes her an excellent choice for Queensland’s next top entrepreneur.

“We want to tap into innovation and entrepreneurship in regional Queensland and provide opportunities to develop ideas, create jobs and thrive in the emerging global economy of the future,” he said.

Ms Palaszczuk thanked Mr Gerrard, who is also the co-founder and chief executive of software-as-a-service company RedEye, for his 18 months of service in the volunteer capacity.

“Wayne was instrumental in developing the new $142 million innovation roadmap we launched this year, which sets out our innovation priorities up to the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games,” he said.

“He also established the Innovation Advisory Board and while Wayne’s time as Chief Entrepreneur comes to an end, he will continue to provide his valuable expertise on the Brisbane 2032 Legacy Commission.”

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In July, the Queensland State Government released its 10-year innovation roadmap along with an additional $142 million to support mainly new and existing programs through the Advance Queensland initiative.

Before Mr Gerrard’s appointment in 2021, the post had been vacant for nearly half a year, fueling speculation that the role of chief executive would be scrapped and replaced by an advisory board.

Former CEO Steve Baxter claimed in March 2021 that “[the government will] keep the office there, put someone else in there for a year until the press dies, then they’ll close quietly. Everything they’ve done on the ground fits that story.”

Do you know more? Contact James Ryle by email.

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