Customs House Smart Hub officially opens to local innovators

Published on 09 February 2018


Rockhampton has cemented its reputation as the Startup Capital of Central Queensland with today’s official opening of the Smart Hub Precinct in the city’s iconic Customs House.

The refurbishment of Customs House to accommodate the Smart Hub was jointly funded by the Queensland Government’s Building our Regions program ($250,000) and Rockhampton Regional Council ($440,000).

Minister for State Development Cameron Dick said Council’s forward-thinking approach to supporting innovation aligns with the Palaszczuk Government’s plan to Advance Queensland.

“The entire purpose of building collaborative environments like the Smart Hub is to provide the foundations for future businesses to thrive in the digital economy, creating jobs and boosting Queensland’s economy in the process,” he said.

“Innovation has certainly been brought to the forefront of our economic discussions and it’s great to see Rockhampton become a leading regional capital in this space with the support of the Palaszczuk Government.”

Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow said it was fitting that the ground floor of the 117-year old heritage building, once home to high-value goods being shipped up the Fitzroy, had been transformed to home something equally as valuable for today’s times.

“The Smart Hub is home to start-ups, burgeoning businesses, inventors and entrepreneurs which are making future job-creating businesses and high-value jobs for Rockhampton,” Mayor Strelow said.

“It’s a space which connects our best and brightest, supports collaboration and attracts investment to our region. The results speak for themselves with many going on to establish a presence in our region, filling empty shops, employing locals and transforming the way we live with new ideas.

“Since 2016 we’ve supported over 20 resident start-ups in a temporary location next door to Customs House and up to 60 start-ups through our free accelerator programs.

“Existing and future entrepreneurs will now benefit from this fantastic new space with state-of-the-art technology, multiple breakout rooms and a revamped interior accentuating the building’s heritage.

“And importantly, this space will remain open to the public who want to appreciate the beauty of Customs House or see the innovation hub in action,” Mayor Strelow said.

The Smart Hub is the final element of Rockhampton Regional Council’s $4.5million Rockhampton CBD Smart Technologies and Working Hub program. The program, part of Council’s Smart Way Forward Project, has created over 20 local jobs during construction and is designed to stimulate the creation of 225 new jobs during full operation. These projects include:

  • a smart working hub to grow the digital economy
  • wi-fi 'mesh' to provide free internet access in the CBD/riverfront
  • smart poles with motion sensors, CCTV and LED lighting to improve people's experience and reduce crime
  • smart parking sensors to optimise parking opportunities
  • digital signage to provide a modern platform for disaster, civic, tourism and event messaging.