2016 Qld Award

24 October 2016 Brisbane

Hon Chris Whiting MP, Aaron Birkby, Wayne FitzsimmonsHon Chris Whiting MP, Aaron Birkby, Wayne Fitzsimmons

The 2016 Queensland Pearcey Entrepreneur Award was presented to Aaron Birkby. The Award was presented at the ACS Queensland 50th birthday celebration dinner on Monday 24 October at BCEC by the Hon Chris Whiting, State Member of Parliament for the Seat of Murrumba, just north of Brisbane.

It is not often that the winner of the Pearcey Entrepreneur Award in any state already is classified as an entrepreneur on his business card but Aaron Birkby is just such a person. He is currently the Entrepreneur in Residence at the River City Labs Accelerator in Brisbane. He is also the co-founder and primary sponsor of the Silicon Lakes Start Up incubator on the Gold Coast where he developed and delivered the Start Up Really Fast (SURF) accelerator in 2014.

Aaron Birkby

Aaron self-learnt to code at 8 and has started 14 businesses since the age of 16. This included Arinda Internet, a backend cloud-based ISP billing and authentication system for public internet access, which he grew to 6 million users with over 2000 points of presence in 9 countries.

Aaron plays an active role in building the Queensland start up ecosystem, including being the most active Start Up Weekend facilitator in Australia. He is a board member of Start Up Weekend Australia and is a member of the Queensland Start Up Working Group facilitating over 30 Strat Up weekends and hackathons.

Previously he has been Commercialisation Manager at the Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology, and Innovation. He has also served on two advisory boards for entrepreneurship and ICT at Bond University.

At the beginning of his career he was Manager, Intelligence Systems at Australian Customs Service; and worked for the Intelligence Branch at the National Crime Authority.

Aaron's career direction was probably set whilst at Sydney Grammar back in the early 90's where amongst the many diverse activities he pursued, he attended the NASA Space and Rocket Centre in Huntsville, Alabama to study astronomy, rocket science and of course exposed to 'coding'. He completed a Bachelor of Science Degree at the University of NSW in 1999 and his Law/Commerce Degree at the University of New England in 2004. His volunteer activities extend outside the ICT sector, as one would expect, and has been a guest presenter on the ABC's Radio Gold Coast on a weekly technology start up segment!


Aaron was selected from nine finalists for the 2016 Queensland Award, all of whom were wonderful advocates for the State's emerging ICT talent. Here is a thumbnail sketch of each finalists' career:

  • Cherie Whelan, Manager, Technology Advisory, Deloitte, Brisbane. Cherie has over 18 years' experience in all aspects of the technology implementation lifecycle from process design, requirements gathering, user experience testing and design, and system evaluation through implementation, enhancement and maintenance.
  • Gavin Keeley, Founder of Group X, now the federal Digital Careers program. Researched, defined, costed then lobbied all levels of government for the establishment of an undersea fibre optic connection from the Sunshine Coast. Now fosters the start-up community there including the creation of several tech start-up businesses and through workshops and private coaching session at The Sunshine Coast Innovation Centre
  • Ian Jones, Manager, Technology Advisory, KPMG. He is an innovative technology adviser aiming to improve investment in ICT services by combining proven and emerging ideas and concepts. He has more than 20 years' experience in IT and organisational change. He successfully consults on IT Operating Models and IT Service Management (ITSM) with concepts such as Agile, BYOD, Continuous Delivery, Cloud computing, Devops, Digital Transformation, Lean and SIAM in large organisations.
  • Aged just 21, Jordan Duffy is an extraordinarily high achiever in every pursuit to which he has put his mind. He co-founded B&D at age 17 in 2011 and now leads a team of 18 staff to deliver visionary solutions no matter what the technology platform. B&D has achieved double year-on-year growth for four years without financial investment. The team has already delivered market-first projects in: Wearables, AR, IoT, Machine Learning, Big Data, Cloud Infrastructure, SaaS Platforms, PaaS.
  • Megan Hastie is an Experienced Senior Teacher at the Brisbane School of Distance Education. Megan has worked in leadership roles in e-learning and e-health, in Indigenous education and teacher professional development. The recipient of multiple awards, Megan continually strives for excellence. She has designed and developed innovative e-learning solutions.
  • Paul Herring is Head of Department for IT at St. Peter's Lutheran College, Indooroopilly. He is a Member of the Queensland Education Department Learning Area Reference Group. He has also been Campus Manager and Assistant Dean of Studies at The Kooralbyn International School. His true passion is generating awareness and appreciation of the impact of technology in primary and secondary education. At the heart is Computational Thinking essential to the development of computer application, across all disciplines.
  • In her own words, Sarah-jane Peterschlingmann is an IT geek with business, financial and marketing skills. She has strong leadership skills and a talent for strategic business growth. As Managing Director of ATechnology International, she has this shelf company in 2009 to a thriving global business with seven figure annual revenues. In addition, she has founded and developed several other businesses.
  • Wei Xiang is Foundation Professor and Head of Discipline, IoT Engineering at the College of Science and Engineering, James Cook University. At the time of his appointment, he was one of the youngest professors ever to have been appointed at JCU. This innovative undergraduate degree program is the first of its kind in Australia. IOT enables ubiquitous machine-to-machine interconnections so as to unleash enormous growths in productivity.