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    Treasurer, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships and Minister for Sport
    The Honourable Curtis Pitt

    Queensland’s own ‘shark tank’ investor panel evaluates $6.2 million in innovative new ideas

    Treasurer, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships and Minister for Sport
    The Honourable Curtis Pitt

    Wednesday, February 10, 2016

    Queensland’s own ‘shark tank’ investor panel evaluates $6.2 million in innovative new ideas

    The new BDF panel of leading entrepreneurs and innovators responsible for identifying investment-worthy projects through the Queensland Government’s $40 million Business Development Fund met for the first time yesterday.

    Treasurer Curtis Pitt said the seven-member team immediately set about evaluating the $6.2 million in ideas they’ve received.

    “We’ve tasked them with shortlisting commercially viable investment opportunities from an impressive array of IT business ideas, new energy technologies and communication innovations,” Mr Pitt said.

    "The assesment team is comprised of some of the best business minds in Queensland: Dr Cherrel Hirst AO, Bill Bartee, Ann-Marie Birkill, Monica Bradley, Troy Haines, Dr Elaine Stead and Michael Zimmerman.

    “Following the shortlisting process, applicants will be asked to make their investment pitch, when panel members will have the opportunity to ask questions and draw out detailed information about the proposal.

    “In some ways it will work like the TV Show ‘Shark Tank’ with applicants making a pitch for their product from which the panel members then make an investment decision and if the pitch is successful, an offer will be made.

    “This is not a grant or a loan. The Government will become an investor in the business because we want to offer real support to emerging and high growth innovative Queensland businesses as part of Advance Queensland. 

    “We expect a return on our investment – the growth of a vibrant venture capital market in Queensland in supporting start-ups and nurturing the innovative and emerging industries of tomorrow.”

    Through the Business Development Fund the Queensland Government will provide investment contributions ranging from $125,000 up to $2.5 million matched funding, alongside private sector co-investors to assist businesses in turning their ideas and innovations into commercial realities.

    Potential applicants and investors can find out more about the Business Development Fund at:


    Business Development Fund Investment Panel Members biographies:


    Dr Cherrell Hirst AO was CEO and deputy chair of lifesciences venture capital fund QIC BioVentures from October 2007.  She is currently Chair of ImpediMed, Chair of Tissue Therapies and non-executive director of Hatchtech, Medibank, RSL Care and Gold Coast HHS.


    Bill Bartee is an international venture capitalist, CEO and Board Director. He specialises in investing in and assisting disruptive, innovative companies grow. Most recently he helped lead the first accelerator for CSIRO.


    Anne-Marie Birkill is General Partner and Executive Director of OneVentures. She has worked with companies in the biotechnology, clean technology and technology sectors as a consultant, mentor, advisor, director and coach.


    Monica Bradley is the Director of Purposeful Capital. She designs business models and strategy for boards, corporates and social impact organisations. She is a strong advocate in the social impact/enterprise investing.


    Troy Haines is the founder of theSPACE, a regional incubator in Cairns. Along with his team, Troy has worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs across a wide audience, from high school students, SME’s to corporate employees to help them commercialise their ideas.


    Dr Elaine Stead is the Investment Director at Blue Sky Venture Capital. Dr Stead has worked for a number of years as a venture capitalist and management consultant to the venture capital industry across Australia and the United States. She has spent the last decade within the innovation and investment spectrum, initially in technology commercialisation assisting public institutions and founders translate and commercialise their technology across a broad range of industry sectors including agriculture, healthcare and IT.


    Michael Zimmerman is an entrepreneur, CEO and investor/board member with a wide range of experience in building technology companies in enterprise software, internet and energy sectors.  Mr Zimmerman has 20 years’ experience working with a diverse set of venture-backed technology companies, including a number that have expanded and developed overseas.  He is currently an Entrepreneur in Residence at CSIRO.  


    Contact:  0419 945 546