Origin Story


Super stoked that you found us. It's here that we wanted to share just a little about why theSPACE was created.

In short it was to help us commercialise our ideas. Founder Troy Haines and later, cofounder Damian Zammit realised that to effectively commercialise ideas you need a support structure.  An ecosystem. 


"It takes a village to raise a startup" 

The not so short version is... In 2010 Troy Haines exited his online travel business, which he'd built and managed for the previous 6 years, so that he could focus on other ideas. 

That was terrifying, hard and complicated because it required significant change and a huge unknown element which meant… he needed to be strategic. Haha

It was at that point he realised that he didn’t really know what he was doing. iAMconnected (his new venture) began to fail and he didn’t know why.  

So... He looked more broadly around the world, at where ideas were flourishing, to really start understanding what it took to turn ideas into reality and how to make money doing that. And so, the journey of theSPACE began.


"Turning ideas into reality is more science than gambling"

His global search started in 2011 highlighting key places like Silicon Valley as the epicentre of idea development. Not willing to move there, he started work on the next best thing- building out an ecosystem in Cairns to support the development of ideas. In 2012 he started work on theSPACE, an incubator that helps turn ideas into reality.                                                                       

  1. Teaching people about "theSPACE" - not a space... but "theSPACE" - where ideas flow from, theSPACE that is inside all of us, that is at the heart of our confidence, our purpose and how to connect to that.
  2. How to "Turn Their Ideas into a Reality"… which can be super painful (especially if you’re new to entrepreneurship and/or you've blown lots of time, money and energy doing the wrong things). But there is a process which mitigates risk.
  3. Providing a support structure (a community of mentors and supporters) to help people journey through this process.
theSPACE Coworking Space 2012 MVP

Over the past six and a half years (we opened our doors in April, 2012), theSPACE Cairns has been working with key strategic partners to build a startup and innovation ecosystem in Far North Queensland. Over recent years we have been building out a model for effective ecosystem development, to support the development of our ideas and those of many other entrepreneurs and innovators in the region.


Some coolness:

  1. As of October 2018, 1232 people, including 163 paid annual members, have attended local startup & innovation events, or made enquiries through theSPACE Cairns
  2. theSPACE now has 6 major corporate sponsors, and has run programs for local, state & federal governments.
  3. As founders of theSPACE Troy & Damian were named Innovation Champions by the Minister for Innovation and the Premier of Queensland. They were further inducted into the Queensland Government Innovation Wall of Fame for the work they have done thus far in building the North Queensland startup and innovation ecosystem.
  4. The Department of Science, Information Technology & Innovation (DSITI) published a report in 2015 on the Regional Queensland startup ecosystem. "Cairns was the surprise stand out in this report. Cairns, per capita, has the highest density of startups out of any city in Queensland, with one startup for every 3,500 people". https://www.qld.gov.au/dsiti/assets/documents/regional-qld-startup-ecosystem-report.pdf
  5. Innovation Ecosystems is becoming an international authority in the Startup & Innovation Ecosystem development, gaining creditability with local, state, national and international leaders. Refer to Annual Australian Innovation System Report, table of contents page 20, https://industry.gov.au/Office-of-the-Chief-Economist/Publications/Documents/Australian-Innovation-System/2016-AIS-Report.pdf
  6. In 2015 & 2017, theSPACE won a national challenge through Sustainable Economic Growth for Regional Australia (http://segra.com.au) and are now working with SEGRA to support regions throughout Australia to develop their own startup and innovation ecosystems.
  7. Our Ecosystem model is being shared internationally as seen here in an article written for Technology Innovation Management Review (TIM Review) - http://www.innovationecosystems.com.au/innovation/technology-innovation-management-review-special-issue/
  8. In 2016, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visited theSPACE to see first-hand the innovations created by our regional entrepreneurs and to announce $10 million in funding for a Cairns Innovation Centre to be built at James Cook University Cairns, Queensland, which the SPACE will collaborate with as a commercialisation partner. This federal government funding is in addition to $10 million in funding from the state government and a further $30 million from private investors, resulting in a total investment of $50million for the Cairns Innovation Centre. A video of the Prime Minister's visit to theSPACE Cairns and his funding announcement, is available here (theSPACE; http://thespacecairns.com/prime-minister-visit/)
  9. Emerging Entrepreneurs was the winner of the Education Innovation Award at the 2016 Regional Achievement & Community Awards and is operating in schools throughout Queensland and will soon be  Australia-wide.
  10. In 2016, Troy was invited to become a panel member for the Advance Queensland $40M (now $80M) Business Development Investment Fund - https://advance.qld.gov.au/entrepreneurs-and-startups-industry-investors-small-business/business-development-fund 
  11. In 2017/2018 theSPACE in partnership with Slingshot Accelerators & Advance Queensland became the first to run a Travel & Tourism Accelerator in Australia
  12. In 2018 theSPACE became the national lead for the Global Transformative Technologies Academy - http://ttacademy.co/ and Troy, a global mentor for the program 


"It’s another way to live, when you get to wake up each day and be paid to do what you were born to do"

So, this is where we're at now. We've survived through almost all the startup challenges you can imagine (and then some). 

So please be sure to reach out and we'll see how we can help you


Much appreciation 


theSPACE Team