International Innovator Leads JCU Ideas Lab
Sharing Keith Sue’s vision
When it comes to the world of innovation and entrepreneurship, Keith Sue, Innovation Facilitator – JCU Connect, has a vision of a more connected and innovative region which connects to the international stage. Based in the new JCU Ideas Lab, Keith’s drive to assist those embarking on their founder journey, is built on a robust career, fuelled by his passion to make a difference by helping to shape Far North Queensland as the place to be for developing and launching digital tech ventures. Keith’s story is one of persistence, hard work, and determination.
Keith’s keen interest in technology, led him to undertake a PhD focused on Innovation Systems and Business Model Formation in the Renewable Energy sector, a journey which took him to ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology). It was whilst living in Switzerland, that he fell in love with entrepreneurship and innovation. The course was set. In 2016, Keith co-founded Six8, an international tech platform for booking live music experiences.
“I learnt so much at Six8. It was like a rollercoaster and we pretty much made every mistake in the book. It was such an unlikely success story, looking back at it — it really came down to the great culture we had built in the organisation, and the amazing team.
“But it was a real grind. There were weeks and months of wondering if we were doing the right thing. It’s an experience I don’t think anyone can understand if they haven’t tried to launch and scale a venture. But in the end, we had built something that other people found really useful. That feeling was amazing.”
“Now I’m pretty focused on giving back. I had a lot of great people give me so much support through my journey. If I can help the next generation of founders through their journeys, I think that would be really satisfying – it’s something I’m passionate about.”
After exiting Six8 in 2019, an opportunity arose in San Francisco to be a Founder Development Resident at the Founder Institute Headquarters in Palo Alto. Keith had the opportunity to work one-on-one with founders in the Silicon Valley cohort. He also worked with the CEO, Adeo Ressi and his leadership team to create programming for the global founder development program, and assistant with the launch of a dedicated program to educate investors interested in early-stage ventures.
In early 2020, Keith returned to Australia to commence the newly created role of JCU Connect’s Innovation Facilitator leading the activation of the new JCU Ideas Lab. His role focuses on the development of founders and the regional start-up ecosystem through the development of programs, events, support, and connections.
So what does success look like for Keith?
“For me, it comes down to collaboration and belief. There are so many people in our region who are doing excellent work in really important areas. Not only that, people in regional Queensland are extremely innovative. My dad was a farmer from Rockhampton and innovation was second nature to him. We just need to all work together, get the right connections happening and most of all, really believe that there’s nothing stopping anyone launching an international company from Far North Queensland,” says Keith.
“We have everything we need here to build a world-leading tech hub. We reside in one of the most liveable parts of the world, with great infrastructure, a growing technical capacity and access to international markets. If we develop great technology, especially in growth areas like IoT, Data Science, AI, AgTech and smart infrastructure, and align that with industry partners and private investment streams, then I see a massive opportunity for the region. That potential is what excites me the most,” adds Keith.
“What we are aiming for at the JCU Ideas Lab is to provide a melting pot to develop and scale these ideas. We want to support founders with great programming, but also expose them to researchers, industry partners, investment streams and market routes to give them the best chance of success. Aim big, fail fast, be authentic, and give to get – that’s the core culture at the JCU Ideas Lab.”
The JCU Ideas Lab is shaping up to house a vibrant innovation community. The state-of-the-art building houses the JCU IoT, IT and Data Science researchers and students. It also provides a myriad of co-working, meeting, and breakout spaces for early-stage tech ventures.
“If you’re thinking about getting involved and wondering whether now is a good time, it is. There will never be the ‘perfect’ time, you just have to take that step and back yourself. Take a shot, no matter how it pans out, I guarantee it will be worth it,” says Keith.
Sign up to join our community and discover the potential of your startup with guidance from Keith Sue and leading innovation experts.