Building Queensland's future
Building Queensland has had a remarkable impact on the Queensland Government’s infrastructure development process, as Business Review Australia reports.
Tasked with providing impartial advice to the Queensland Government on key infrastructure decisions, Building Queensland has shown planners across the world what can be achieved in little over 12 months. Cemented into the State’s statutory body with the Building Queensland Act 2015, the advisor has already played a decisive role in government decision making.
“Building Queensland’s vision is to contribute significantly to superior infrastructure decision making for Queensland,” says Chief Executive Officer, David Quinn. “In pursuit of this vision this independent statutory body is providing strong leadership in developing a consistent longer-term approach to infrastructure proposal development and prioritisation.”
“Building Queensland is fast emerging as the pre-eminent source of independent and expert infrastructure advice to government, holding the ability to facilitate investment decisions made by the Queensland Government’s State Infrastructure Fund.”
In its advisory role, Building Queensland draws on domestic and international policy examples in order to first identify emerging issues (these could be in infrastructure planning, policy, assessment and project delivery) then prioritise and advise the correct course of action. As standard, Building Queensland identifies projects that provide the greatest value for money as well as long term benefits to communities.
Building Queensland has also purposely developed a suite of frameworks to assist in the development of quality business cases; these provide a consistent and robust approach to major proposal development.
Quinn adds: “Building Queensland is leading the charge to improve the way the Queensland Government develops infrastructure proposals having developed its own best practice Business Case Development Framework. The Framework ensures that a rigorous and robust assessment is undertaken prior to investment consideration.”
Building Queensland is also consulted on proposals pertaining to infrastructure that are part of the government’s Market-Led Proposals (MLP) framework. This is an initiative bring together innovation, private sector funding and entrepreneurship that works by contracting exclusively with proponents rather than competitive tendering.
Infrastructure Pipeline Report
So how does Building Queensland actually share its advice? Its Infrastructure Pipeline Report presents Building Queensland’s view of priority infrastructure proposals – in various stages of development – by the State Government.
Using an interactive online tool, users are able to chart the progress of sector-specific projects, as well as explore them in more detail by seeing how the need had been identified, the preliminary evaluation work, and the business case for a given project. Interested parties are also able to view proposal summaries online.
Although the first Pipeline Report was only published earlier this year, Building Queensland is already making waves, Quinn explains: “Since the release of the first Infrastructure Pipeline Report in June 2016, three of the four proposals recommended by Building Queensland as being ready for government investment consideration have secured a funding commitment from the Queensland Government.”
He also highlights that Building Queensland’s Infrastructure Pipeline Report supports the Queensland Government by developing better infrastructure proposal development; the Government is better informed while making key investment decisions because, simply put, it has a better selection of projects.
“The Infrastructure Pipeline Report is the first time independent, expert analysis has been used to assess all major infrastructure proposals, including economic and social infrastructure, in development across the Queensland Government,” he adds.
Having advised on a growing number of important projects in the State, Building Queensland has shown in a very short space of time that widening the debate is both needed and achievable. Quin concludes: “In delivering its independent advice to government, Building Queensland is also providing industry and the community with visibility of infrastructure proposals currently being considered. It is stimulating more informed debate, as more Queenslanders are able to engage in discussion on future infrastructure needs.”
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C-suite spotight: Melanie Perkins, CEO, Canva
Who is Melanie Perkins?
She’s the co-founder and CEO of Australian unicorn online design platform Canva, who ultimately became one of tech’s youngest female CEOs, at just 30, and recently became a billionaire aged 35, making her one of Australia’s richest and youngest.
Why is she in the spotlight right now?
Because less than a year after securing a US$6bn valuation during the pandemic, which provided a big boost to business, Canva has recently more than doubled its valuation, securing a $15bn valuation, which makes Perkins a billionaire, according to Forbes. The valuation comes in the wake of a new funding round in the first week of April 2021 led by T. Rowe Price and Dragoneer and raising $71m. At the same time, Canva announced its business has passed $500m in annualised revenue, up 130% from the year before.
What is Canva and why is it so successful?
Launched in 2013 by co-founders Melanie Perkins (CEO), Cliff Obrecht (COO) and Cameron Adams (Chief Product Officer), Sydney-headquartered Canva is a free-to-use online graphic design product that allows users to create everything from social media graphics to presentations and other visual content, as well as offering paid subscriptions like Canva Pro and Canva for Enterprise, with 3 million of its now 55 million users taking paid subscriptions.
Accruing 750,000 users in its first year, following a number of rounds of investment including from Mary Meeker’s Bond Capital in 2019 and this month’s massive funding round, Canva now boasts 55 million users across 190 countries, with offices in Sydney, Beijing, Manila, and most recently Austin, Texas, and is valued at $3.2 billion.
And while the company was originally most popular with SMEs, helping them draft and design print and digital assets, it’s since grown to become a real-time collaboration suite that’s being used by big firms including McKinsey, Salesforce and American Airlines. In fact, Canva claims that 85% of Fortune 500 companies use the platform’s services. They continue to add new features and during the pandemic, added presenter video recording tools.
How did Perkins get there?
The idea of Canva came to Perkins when she was at the university of Perth, where to earn money on the side she taught students design programmes. Many of her students found platforms like Adobe complicated and frustrating, and the ideas came to her to simplify and democratise design, to make it more approachable and accessible, more collaborative, and ultimately to empower all in design. So, she and university peer Cliff Obrecht, who became Canva co-founder and Perkins’ husband, created an online school yearbook design business, Fusion Yearbooks, to test it out. Operating from her mum’s living room, the yearbook design business was a massive success, expanding to New Zealand and France, and remains the largest yearbook publisher in Australia.
However, Perkins did not give up on her dream to create a one-stop-shop design site and at one point spent three months living with her brother in San Francisco where she pitched to more than 100 venture capitalists, all of whom rejected Canva. It was following a chance encounter at a conference in Perth with Silicon Valley venture capitalist Bill Tai, Perkins was winning over major investors including Hollywood celebrities Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson and building out Canva’s design platform with a fast-growing team of tech engineers and a high-profile tech advisor, Lars Rasmussen who co-founded Google Maps.
It was in 2012 when things really kicked off however when Perkins and Obrecht found a tech co-founder in Cameron Adams. The same year, they closed their first funding round, which was oversubscribed and raised $1.5m, with Canva going live in 2013. In 2019, an $85m funding round led by Silicon Valley investor Mary Meeker’s Bond Capital gave the company a valuation of $3.2bn, before the most recent funding around in April 2021 leading to a valuation of $15bn.
In her own words…
"I think it's pretty important to know that every single person is going through their own trials and tribulations. Knowing that it's tricky for everyone, that any adventure will be filled with rejections and littered with obstacles – somehow makes the adventure a little less lonely. And it's most important for people who feel like they are on the outside to know this."