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Innovation thrives in Toowoomba Region

With characteristic creativity and motivation, local entrepreneurs have adapted to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions to deliver a new innovation program online.

Designed by StartUp Toowoomba, the METS Innovation Regional Accelerator (MIRA) Darling Downs program is a joint initiative of the Queensland Government and the Mining Equipment, Technology and Services Growth Centre (METS Ignited).

The University of Southern Queensland has connected academics and students with MIRA Darling Downs to provide mentorship and forge new research and industry relationships.

Startup Toowoomba’s David Masefield said he was excited by the opportunities programs like MIRA brought to the region for industry, manufacturing and science.

“Accelerator programs rely on quality mentors that you can introduce to the participating teams and our mentor-driven programs like MIRA are something we are very proud of.

“Great support for the program came from the University of Southern Queensland’s Industry Relationships team.”

Gary Elks and Dr Ali Mirzaghorbanali are engineering researchers with the University of Southern Queensland’s Centre for Future Materials, and participated as MIRA mentors for start-up businesses and small to medium enterprises wanting to break into the Mining, Equipment, Technology and Services industry.

Participant Trent Humphrys (Jurra Industries) said the program was a great opportunity for small companies and entrepreneurs to access high calibre mentors.

“Our company enjoyed the collaboration of industry experts, USQ faculty, the local startup scene and government departments. In a regional area like Toowoomba, you would be amazed at what is being developed by small companies, for new and existing industries.

“A program like this brings them to the forefront and provides a platform to showcase the innovation being developed. I have no doubt that future business success stories will come from the MIRA program given the amount of talent on show this year.”

Industry partner SensaWeb also praised the program, with cofounder and head of technology Darren Oliver looking forward to broadening its involvement in the region across the health and mining sectors.

“SensaWeb found the MIRA program to be a great benefit, providing opportunities to meet many experienced companies and advisors from across the broader Toowoomba region.  Of particular interest for SensaWeb is a research collaboration with USQ to improve radiation safety within the mining industry.

Six men standing in a line smiling.
(LtoR) Simon Turner (SensaWeb), Darren Oliver (SensaWeb), Trent Humphries (Jurra Industries), Gary Elks (USQ), Dr Ali Mirzaghorbanali (USQ), and David Masefield.