28 August 2023
Our special guest in this episode is Wayne Gerard, founder of tech company Red Eye, the Immediate Past Queensland Chief Entrepreneur, and currently a member of the 2032 Games Legacy Committee. In the latter role, Wayne is taking a holistic view of what the lasting legacy of the Games will be for Queensland – spanning economy, community, the environment, and more.
“We're thinking about all of the infrastructure that gets built to enable us to deliver the Games – and how do we make that climate positive?” explains Wayne. “We're thinking about the actual Games themselves and how do we make all of the aspects of the Games – the food, the power, the water, the transportation, the venues, the technology – how do we make all of that climate positive?”
Further, Wayne says the Committee is considering how the focus on a climate positive legacy can set up the local economy “to be leaders in products and services that are really environmentally friendly, really responsible from a manufacturing perspective, and how we then go on and position ourselves globally to be a leader in that domain.”
In conversation with Ashurst’s Michael Duggan, Wayne explains how the Games is considering procurement, talent, and AI. He also has a call to action for businesses and communities across Queensland:
“I think every local government is keen to see how their industries, their economy, their businesses can participate in Brisbane 2032. And I encourage people in those local chambers of commerce and local communities to get together and start talking about what they're best in the world at; what they're known for; and what they could do to put their town, their city, their community on the map for Brisbane 2032.”
This podcast contains general information and does not constitute legal advice. Ashurst is not a sponsor, licensee, or promotional partner of the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Olympic movement, nor any Olympic body, event, team, or athlete. Nothing in this podcast is intended to suggest any such sponsorship, licence, or promotional affiliation.
Hello, and welcome to Ashurst Business Agenda.
This is the latest episode of 2032 and Beyond, our podcast miniseries focusing on the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
My name is Kim Wiegand and I am the global leader of our Client Centre of Excellence here at Ashurst. In this podcast miniseries, we're delving into the preparations, delivery and legacy of the 2032 Games. As a firm, Ashurst has experience in the delivery of recent major Games projects. This includes mandates for the Sydney, London, and Tokyo Games.
Throughout this series, we draw on our experience to tackle common themes and opportunities as we head towards the hotly anticipated 2032 Games. In today's episode, I am delighted that we have a special guest: founder of Brisbane-based technology company, Red Eye and Immediate Past Queensland Chief Entrepreneur, Wayne Gerard. Wayne is a member of the Brisbane 2032 Legacy Committee, and we've invited him onto the podcast to talk about innovation, sustainability, and the climate positive impact of the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
In a wide-ranging conversation with Mike Duggan, a director in our Ashurst Risk Advisory business, Wayne talks about the opportunities for businesses and communities across Queensland to contribute to the delivery and legacy of the Games.
And so without further ado, let's hear their discussion.
Hey, Wayne. You and I have known each other for ages, but tell everyone listening about yourself and your passion for innovation and sustainability.
G’day, Mike. It's super great to chat mate. Where do I start? I guess I'm a tech founder and entrepreneur. I've been the Chief Entrepreneur for Queensland for the last couple of years. I founded a bunch of companies, technology companies, engineering companies. I've got a venture capital company and I'm currently helping the Queensland government with a venture capital fund.
I've really been involved in innovation and building the innovation ecosystem in Queensland since about 2010. And it's been a great journey to see the transformation in Queensland, the growth of a whole range of really innovative companies. And along that journey, we've seen the transformation of our economy as our economy shifts to be more climate focused, and we see a shift towards the energy transition. We’ve seen the economy broadening its base from a resource extractive kind of economy to the depth of different industry sectors and verticals that we have today. There's been a real opportunity to invest in innovation that helps accelerate our transformation to a sustainable economy, and community – and innovation that protects our environment or enhances our response to climate change.
You were fortunate enough to be the Queensland chief entrepreneur for a number of years. You must've seen the economy really grow and expand and change across Queensland during your time in that role, as you travelled across Queensland. What were some of the highlights, particularly in terms of innovation and sustainability that you saw?
It's been so exciting to see people right across Queensland who actually are just quite naturally innovative, identify opportunities that are relevant in their industries in their cities, their towns, their regions, in things like category technology.
For example, the development of really cool technology. There's a company at a Longreach called Swarm Farm Robotics and they're a great example of a husband and wife who have been multi-generational farmers who have decided to build robotic autonomous farm equipment that does precision spraying. So it reduces the amount of pesticide you need by about 90%. That reduces the amount of runoff or pesticide that ends up in our creeks, in our waterways, and ultimately on the barrier reef. And so that's just one example of, you know, innovation born out of necessity that has a really positive impact on our environment, and also helps our economy.
Yeah, no doubt it has a huge impact on the broader community. I can imagine that, you know, that brings jobs and regional growth with those types of innovations happening out in the country. And no doubt it probably spurs on entrepreneurs with supporting technology such as software or other agritech that could drive change across the state.
With, with that kind of concept of community and community growth, you know how one of the big things coming out of the Olympics and Paralympics coming up in Brisbane in 2032 is all about that concept of legacy. And these technology companies and these innovators are really supporting that; that legacy of the future in terms of community. What do you see as the community's kind of real drive towards and – and I guess passion for - legacy? What's really going to turn the dial for local communities like that around some of these great agritech technologies out in the regions?
When you think, Mike, about the opportunity that Brisbane 2032 presents for not just Southeast Queensland, but for Queensland broadly and beyond for Australia and the Asia Pacific, there are so many opportunities to create more wealth to showcase the amazing products and services that are produced here in Queensland. And to accelerate our economy and create jobs for people.
When I look at the Olympics and the Paralympics and it coming to Brisbane or Queensland in 2032, I think about the opportunity on a macro level from a legacy perspective. I'm lucky enough to be on the Brisbane 2032 Legacy committee. We are thinking about what's the legacy in the lead up to the Games in 2032, and what's the legacy for a decade beyond that out to 2042.
And so we're really trying to take a holistic view about legacy across a bunch of different categories. We obviously see a real opportunity for the Games to demonstrate to the world that Queensland is taking climate change seriously. We will be the first Games that is committed to a climate positive Games. And so what does that really mean? It means that every aspect of the way that we plan, deliver, and manage Brisbane 2032 needs to be climate positive.
So we're thinking about all of the infrastructure that gets built to enable us to deliver the Games, and how do we make that climate positive? We're thinking about the actual Games themselves and how do we make all of the aspects of the Games – the food, the power, the water, the transportation, the venues, the technology – how do we make all of that climate positive?
And then we're thinking about the opportunities that come from as a state. Really building the businesses that can deliver climate positive products and services and building therefore the economy that can deliver that kind of stuff. And so how does that set our economy up going forward to be leaders in products and services that are really environmentally friendly, really responsible from a manufacturing perspective, and how do we then go on and position ourselves globally to be a leader in that domain?
It's a really interesting space, Wayne, that you're talking about with that economic growth and the driver that legacy and the climate positive achievements that the whole of Queensland will be able to reap the benefit of in the future. One of the things Ashurst did recently is we published the Future Forces Report in collaboration with The Economist. And one of the big findings in that was that more than a quarter of businesses found that transition to net zero (that will really assist in a climate positive future) either the most attractive opportunity or the toughest challenge for them for the next decade.
And over the next 10 years is really when the legacy for these businesses and for the wider community is going to be shaped in terms of opportunities and challenges. What would you say are some of the biggest opportunities for these types of businesses that want to take the transition to net zero really seriously? What are the key opportunities and maybe some of the challenges that you see over the next decade for them?
I think so many businesses in Queensland, they're really, really excited by the opportunity of being able to be a supplier or a service provider to Brisbane 2032. And I've been lucky enough to go out to a whole range of cities in my previous role as chief entrepreneur for Queensland, and also now as a member of the legacy committee and participate in forums with the local council, the local government. The CEOs and mayors of the councils and all of the industries where we've been talking about how do those regions get ready, how do the companies, the small-to-medium businesses, the medium businesses, the large businesses in those regions get ready now to be able to supply to Brisbane 2032? Whether that's helping to build infrastructure or whether that's providing food or uniforms or temporary, seating or power or anything for the actual Games delivery or transport.
And so there's a lot of excitement now around organisations going, ‘Right, how do we get our organisation to become climate positive? Alright, how do we think about our products and services that we want to market and sell? How do we make sure that the, their climate positive?’
And so different cities have got really great programs to support the local business communities to go on that journey to become climate positive. And local cities are really trying to then work with the state government to go, ‘Hey, we've got a supply base that can help deliver value for Brisbane 2032’.
About two weeks ago we saw the Premier announce the Brisbane 2032 procurement strategy. And that procurement strategy really talks about the benchmark that we're setting as a state for organisations that want to provide products and services to Brisbane 2032.
And what they've done in that procurement strategy. You say, ‘Here's the standards we want you to meet around climate change, environment, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, good governance, right? And so what Brisbane 2032 is doing is it's creating a catalyst for organisations to look at the way they operate and to invest in improving the way they operate to provide a better impact to the economy, better impacts for the environment, better inclusion and work conditions for everyone. And so I think all of those things together are going to combine to make our economy more competitive and more sustainable. And so that is really, really exciting. It's also a challenge of course, because that takes time and it costs money. And so I think the government's been really great about going, ‘Well, we're going to focus on purchasing from local organisations’. And so if there's this confidence that business opportunities exist, it makes it easier to then invest in making those transformational changes inside organisations.
The other challenge obviously is labour, and it's really hard to find talent. We definitely have a talent shortage in this market, and with all the infrastructure being built and the demand that's on our economy at the moment, we're a growing economy and it's a really exciting time to have a business here – but it also means that labour's challenging. That's where I think technology comes into play.
We're seeing super exciting advances in technology like AI. We're seeing really great Queensland technology companies, startups, come and develop products and services that automate different parts of the manufacturing process, automate different parts of the governance process, and making it easier for people to do regulatory reporting, things like that.
A couple of examples: We've got an amazing Queensland technology company called Planet Price that helps an organisation have a look at the way they operate and analyses the partners that they buy from and looks at the envioronmental impact of the different purchasing decisions that they make in their supply chain, and then helps them to identify organisations or products and services that they could work with those vendors to make those particular products of services, those inputs into their supply chain, more climate positive.
And so there are really cool technologies coming out of Queensland. They're enabling Queensland companies and global companies to go in this transformation to become more environmentally, almost sustainably based businesses.
That's some great examples of local businesses driving that change. And also I think, you you've talked about a company like Planet Price and, from what I understand, their whole kind of premise is around really measuring what matters and, and having an understanding of the measurement side of things. It's probably one of the biggest challenges that I know we've talked about before, Wayne (in being able to understand the legacy and the contribution to climate positivity) is actually measuring the net benefit and understanding how to get behind the engine of how that measurement will provide for the long-term. Not only understanding of benefit, but really substantiation that the things that we plan to do right now or things that we are able to achieve in the future. What are your thoughts about the measurement side of things? How do we really measure legacy and measure climate positivity?
Mike, you better start with a baseline and something like Planet Price provides a great, tool that's really easy to implement that creates a baseline so that organisations know where they're at. The organisation then really needs to work with capable and competent people who can take that baseline and come up with a plan. And I guess that's what you guys [at Ashurst] do, right? So the idea of going, ‘Okay, so now we know where you're at, let's go develop a plan to reduce the climate impact or the environmental impact of the different aspects of products and services you produce or the way you operate’. And so I think it's very much about having tools that create a baseline and that it's working with partners to go on that journey of transformation and then it's re-running tools to look at the positive impact of the changes that have been made.
One of the things that I think every organisation in Queensland or every organisation in Australia needs to get better at is storytelling. And so truly being able to tell stories about their transformation; about the way that they're tackling climate change; about the way that they're tackling things like Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The way that they're being a more inclusive and collaborative organisation and not just talking about it at a high level, but actually using data. I think we're all in a place now where, as consumers of information, we want data, not just stories. So having great data that is transparent and verifiable helps to make sure that organisations are living up to their end of the bargain.
Thanks, Wayne. It has to be such an integrated approach; it can't be one thing or the other. It just takes such an integrated way of thinking and we've spent lots of times on the trails running around spending time in the environment across Southeast Queensland, and also time in the boardroom, talking about key strategic and risk areas and those are key passions of mine.
Certainly, hearing about that integration of understanding the baseline using the tools and storytelling, you know, getting back to the basics of just being able to communicate and connect with people is so important. I wanted to really thank you for your, your time today. Any kind of final thoughts or tips for the listeners around innovation, sustainability, or climate positivity?
I think every organisation has an opportunity to position themselves to provide value to Brisbane 2032. Every organisation in Queensland could be thinking about, ‘Well, what are the products and services I sell?’ And is there an opportunity to sell those products and services, either as part of the infrastructure build for Brisbane 2032 or as part of delivery of the Games? Or are there opportunities around tourism, coming from people who will visit Queensland in the lead up to the Games, during the Games, and beyond the Games? So this huge scope to get involved. We do need to be proactive because the scale of this event and the scale of the opportunities in order of magnitude larger than most organisations in Queensland are used to dealing with. And we've got time to do that now. So I think it takes a groundswell and it doesn't matter where you are in Queensland, what community, what region, what town, what city.
I think every local government's keen to see how their industry, their economy, their businesses can participate in Brisbane 2032. And I encourage people in those local community chambers of commerce and local communities to get together and start talking about what they're best in the world; at what they're known for; and what they could do to put their town, their city, their community on the map for Brisbane 2032. I think there's also an opportunity, not just from an economic perspective, but also from a collaboration perspective, a community perspective. We've got amazing schools [in Queensland]. I encourage those schools to reach out and connect with schools and other countries and, you know, why can't a town like Bundaberg or Emerald or Mackay or Gayndah or you name any town, right?
Why can't they host a team that wants to train for the Olympics or the Paralympics in their community?
And why can't we build bridges between Queensland communities and the rest of the world? Because I think becoming a global society at the moment's a super important step in just making sure that building a happy and collaborative world. And I think if we want to truly build a sustainable world, then I think we need to have a deep understanding and respect for all of the different cultures. And with that, the opportunity for our Indigenous communities to really shine during Brisbane 2032 and, and for us to think about the transformation and sustainability of our economy leveraging some of the lessons that [Indigenous people] have learned over thousands and thousands of years of living in Queensland. So, for us, it's a super exciting time. And it's great to have this chat with you, Mike. Thanks.
Wayne Gerard, thank you. Always a pleasure. Really appreciate you joining the 2032 and Beyond podcast. I'm sure we'll catch up on the trails again soon.
See you on the trails, Mike
This podcast contains general information and does not constitute legal advice. Ashurst is not a sponsor, licensee, or promotional partner of the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Olympic movement, nor any Olympic body, event, team or athlete. Nothing in this podcast is intended to suggest any such sponsorship, licence, or promotional affiliation.