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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Celebrating Innovation


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

“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.”

A total of 54 innovators and entrepreneurs across TNQ are entered in the prestigious awards, which feature seven categories including Proven Innovation, Pipeline Innovation, Eco Innovation, Social Innovation, Young Entrepreneur’s, the People’s Choice and the Mayor’s Choice.

Winners will be announced on Thursday, November 22 at an awards presentation at the Tanks Arts Centre and will each receive a customised prize package comprising cash and tailored professional services to assist in taking their businesses to the next level.

The innovations will be judged by Mario Martini from Ai Group, Robert Donnan from ARUP, Kay Strong from AusIndustry, Troy Haines from theSPACE and Lukbir Singh from MacDonnells Law.

“I think it’s fantastic that we acknowledge people who are doing innovation in our region,” Troy says. “I think we bat above our weight here in Far North Queensland in terms of innovation, and I’m excited to see what new innovations will be unveiled at this year’s awards.”

Read ahead to learn more about a few of this year’s entrants. Unfortunately, due to space restraints, Connect Cairns is not able to feature each of these amazing innovators.


With more than 17 million Australians using Facebook today, more and more business owners are utilising its popularity by increasing their presence on the popular social media platform to expand their client reach and engage with their followers.

In order to help businesses improve their social media interaction, Random Press Graphic Design Studio owner Nic Zymaras has invented an innovative way for businesses to get their in-store customers to like their Facebook page before they leave the premises.

Swipe-n-Like social media tags incorporate the latest Near Field Communication (NFC) technology (the same technology used in payWave) and can be accessed by any NFC-compatible smart phone. The tags are pre-programmed with a business’ Facebook link, so it takes customers directly to a Facebook page in one easy step.

“We’ve seen signs in shops and businesses asking their customers to like their Facebook page, but people don’t immediately act on that,” says Nic. “The idea of Swipe-n-Like came to me while I was picking up a pizza at my local pizzeria. The owner told me to be sure to like his Facebook page, and I knew I would forget to do that when I was home.

“It was this conversation with him that sparked the idea

of having something in-store where customers could easily like their Facebook page right there and then.”

Swipe n Like tags are made of hard-wearing epoxy resin that is durable and long lasting with virtually unlimited swipes. They’re waterproof, shockproof and dust-proof, require no batteries and have no moving parts. They also come with an acrylic counter board, making them completely portable so they can be moved around the shop and taken to expos and trade shows.

“As NFC is reasonably new, some of the older or cheaper phones are not fitted with this technology,” says Nic. “However, as the push for phone payment platforms increases, it will ensure this technology becomes mainstream on all phones over the next few years.

 “Swipe-n-Like is all about making social interaction easy. It’s a very inexpensive, cost-effective way for businesses to increase their advertising, brand awareness and customer engagement while also attracting new customers.


Young Kelby Cifuentes has come up with an ingenious idea to help rid Australia of cane toads.

The 11-year-old Atherton Year

five student invented a way to effectively eradicate cane toad tadpoles while he was participating in the Tablelands Schools Science and Sustainability Enrichment Program, an event designed by Education Queensland for gifted and talented students.

His innovative idea, called  The Toadanator, traps toad tadpoles to prevent them going through metamorphosis and becoming adult toads.

“Cane toads are terrible,” says the Tolga State School student. “It’s no secret that they wreak havoc on our environment. I saw a map of Australia with dots on it that showed where the toads are spreading, and I just want to stop them invading Australia.

“The removal of toads before they reach the stage at which they can reproduce will have a huge impact on the reduction of breeding toads and the spread of cane toads across Australia,” adds Kelby, whose research discovered female toads can lay between 8,000 and 35,000 eggs twice a year.

“Removing toads has a direct positive environmental impact. Toads are prolific breeders that compete against native species for food and territory.” 

With his dad’s help, he designed his prototype out of recycled plastic bottles before deciding to use poly pipe. He tried various forms of bait before discovering that dog biscuits worked best. His first experiment, carried out in a dam on his family’s property, trapped 900 cane toad tadpoles. 

The name Toadanator was inspired

by the movie The Terminator.

“I came up with the name with help from my dad and some friends,” he says. “My slogan is: ‘I won’t be back’.”


Making life easier for real estate agents and their clients is the concept behind PROLIST, an IT company that has created fully integrated real estate software solutions to streamline all aspects of the industry’s advertising and marketing platforms.

Its features include a listing management system, automated lead generation and processing, contact management system, email campaign builder, sign printing and its new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, an aspect of the business that is entered in the Tropical North Queensland Innovation Awards.

“We cut down on time-wasting components of our users’ days,” says PROLIST Director Angelo Senna, a Software Engineer who built the PROLIST system.

PROLIST started in 2011 with Angelo and Peter Williams of Sign Sales as a print-ready online system to automate the drawing of real estate signage and has since progressed to a fully-integrated real estate software solution.

In 2017, PROLIST started building its CRM system, which features include automatic lead-ingestion from portals such as realestate.com.au and the fully-customisable email builder system, which allowing users to send emails a broad range of recipients or to small targeted section, such as open-home attendees.

It also centralises data creating

a powerful buyer-matching tool for real estate agents matching buyers with properties faster than ever before and is constantly focusing on and streamlining the sales process to inevitably save the vendor their hard-earnt money.

“I’m really excited about the CRM,” Angelo says. “It solves the problem that a lot of people in the real estate industry have of spending a lot of time performing tasks that would be much better suited to a computer”.

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