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  • Sharon Timms

    TropicNow journalist

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    Innovators and entrepreneurs shine at awards launch with Shark Tank's Steve Baxter

    The innovation scene in Cairns is on fire right now.

    The city has just launched the TNQ Innovation Awards, emerging entrepreneurs have pitched business ideas at the Big Fish competition and Queensland's Chief Entrepreneur and Shark Tank star Steve Baxter spent the day checking out local startups.

    The Tropical North Queensland Innovation Awards (TNQIA), launched by Mayor Bob Manning and Steve Baxter this week, provided an opportunity for entrepreneurs to pitch business ideas to an expert panel, including Baxter.

    “These awards provide a stepping stone for emerging entrepreneurs to showcase their ideas and projects and to connect with potential investors and customers,” Cr Manning said.

    “We already know that Tropical North Queensland is a national hot spot for small business start-ups. There is a tremendous amount of talent and creativity in our community and these awards are a way to celebrate that.”

    Photographer Jannah Dryden took out the Young Entrepreneur’s Project Big Fish competition held at the launch of the awards with her innovative concept, Album Registry. 

    Album Registry is a free web service allowing family and friends of engaged couples to contribute to the cost of their wedding photography. Clients choose their preferred photographer and package, then send contribution invites to guests via the platform.

    So far, 17 photographers from around the world have signed up to be a part of the innovative platform, promising to change the way crowd-funding gifts is managed.

    Malanda Primary School student Jazmyn Pease was picked up the gong in the U-10 category for her project ‘Jaz Bagz’ - bags made from recycled material and clothing. Jaz Bagz are currently stocked in Malanda stores for people to borrow and return to reduce the use of plastic bags.

    Kate Montgomery from the Young Entrepreneurs Project said: “We are extremely proud of Jazmyn’s win, and her Jaz Bagz project. As part of YEP, we aim to inspire, educate, and connect future entrepreneurs to help them start or build sustainable and rewarding self employment. The TNQIA is an excellent platform for that.”

    Entries are now open for the 2018 Tropical North Queensland Innovation Awards. Category winners will each receive a customised prize package comprising cash and tailored professional services to assist in taking their businesses to the next level.

    Entries will remain open until 15 August, with judging to commence immediately after the closing date.

    Innovators can enter six categories – including four specialty awards.

    For more information or to submit an entry, click here.