Business Navigator participant Lee Reithmuller
Business Navigator participant Lee Reithmuller

When people think of start-ups most imagine Silicon Valley, not the Surat Basin.

However, home-grown, local businesses are being supported to commercialise new ideas thanks to a partnership between Shell’s QGC business and Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise.

The Business Navigator program was developed following extensive community feedback. Communities in the Western Downs said supporting local business and building a strong, diversified economy was important to them.

The program links local entrepreneurs with professional business mentors, or ‘navigators’, who assist them in turning their ideas into reality.

In just one year, 45 Western Downs businesses across 20 industries have been supported on their growth journey. Sixty per cent of those businesses are starting up new ideas. A further 60 per cent of participants are female business leaders.

The program includes a business innovation competition - ‘The Pitch Challenge’. Entrants get the opportunity to showcase their ideas to expert judges. All finalists receive pitch training and resources to make their proposal even stronger.

Last year’s Pitch Challenge saw $34,000 in prizemoney awarded to nine finalists. The winners have used this competition as a springboard to secure opportunities to build their businesses.

Business Navigator is one of several projects supported by Shell’s QGC business to drive regional economic development.