Meet Queensland’s new Chief Entrepreneur
Leanne Kemp, who will replace inaugural Chief Entrepreneur Steve Baxter, is founder of Everledger, a groundbreaking blockchain start-up listed as one of the World Economic Forum’s most promising technology pioneers of 2018, and praised only last month by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in her Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) State of the State speech.
Ms Kemp’s company, which can track high-value assets to mitigate risk and fraud, began by tracking diamonds using blockchain technology, establishing the unique thumbprint of each diamond and encrypting the information to establish indisputable provenance of the diamond.
That technology has proven extraordinarily valuable for the owners of high-value assets in an increasingly globalised world.
Ms Palaszczuk said it had taken Ms Kemp just three years to build her company into a global power player with offices in five countries, including her largest tech workforce in Brisbane.
“The company raised more than $10 million in venture capital earlier this year and now employs 72 people, with women in key technical roles and managerial positions,’’ Ms Palaszczuk said.
The position of Chief Entrepreneur, with no salary and a 12-month tenure, was unique to Queensland until South Australia began copying the idea recently.
The Chief Entrepreneur ignites Queensland innovation, linking up with entrepreneurial talent and encouraging the incubators where creative risk takers learn the ropes.
Innovation Minister Kate Jones said appointing Queensland’s first female Chief Entrepreneur would send a clear message about the importance of women in tech.
“To create the jobs of the future in Queensland we need to think globally,’’ Ms Jones said.
“She’s an internationally recognised entrepreneur who has built her company from the ground up.
“In her new role, Leanne will work with the government to ensure we’re doing everything possible to support Queensland companies to scale-up and expand overseas.”
Mr Baxter, the Cloncurry-born tech pioneer whose appearances on Channel Ten’s Shark Tank gave him a national profile, poured hundreds of hours of his own time into the job, travelling the regions in his own plane to meet and encourage people with new ideas.
Mr Baxter has welcomed his replacement as a fantastic opportunity for Queensland business to link into a global business framework.
“A key theme during my 12 months in the role has been to remind entrepreneurs to have a global focus from day one,” he said.
“We’re in a global marketplace and, as I’ve travelled around the state, it’s been encouraging to see the wide variety of businesses that are performing on the international stage.’’