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About Ignite FNQ

About Ignite FNQ

Our Vision:

Connect and empower diverse FNQ communities by fostering innovation to build social, economic and environmental prosperity. Mission Statement:

To enable a regionally-connected network of innovation by providing the tools, support services and training to build capacity and capability for fostering success in growing jobs through start-ups and existing businesses.


Core and Outreach Operations

Far North Queensland is the largest, most diverse region in Queensland. This uniqueness is a key consideration for the Program delivery model. The collaborative approach aims to service the Region at two levels:

  1. From core regional locations: Cairns and Atherton
  2. Via outreach locations where communities have an established or emerging willingness to innovate.

The core locations will have a key role in the development of tools and activation of events, resources and services across the Region. Outreach locations will bring the ecosystem to life and engage key services from the core based on local needs.

Core-provided services

Will include coordination and connection to appropriate tools, events, education services, funding, sponsors, mentors and specialist expertise to strengthen both the job opportunities and rate of success for innovation across the Region.


Core locations are those regional areas that have a concentration of existing small to medium business, with the capacity and existing experience in co-ordination of events and education activities that foster innovation.

The two core locations are:

  • Cairns
  • Tablelands (Atherton)


The primary roles of the core will be to:

  • Provide co-ordination of resources and build capacity for a variety of skills development packages to be delivered across the Region.
  • Activate venues and facilities to conduct outreach and awareness raising for communities to connect with the ecosystem.
  • Gather data related to the needs/resource requirements for innovation.
  • To test and measure the willingness of any/all rural and remote communities in order that they may connect into the innovation ecosystem when ready.


There are a plethora of services and spaces available in Cairns and the Tablelands including:

  • Entrepreneurial training at theSPACE Australasia
  • Conference rooms at Cairns Shire Council
  • Mentoring in tech development at envision


Outreach projects/programs may include start-up weekends, Wi-Fi hotspots, and new tourism packages. Outreach locations will be empowered to operate as decentralised autocratic innovation locations. In many cases, the outreach centres will drive innovation on the ground. Our starting point will be connecting to the Region’s grass roots communities where we know innovation already exists.

The outreach locations have been determined based upon community-driven interest, potential investment, and potential places and spaces that could be activated by the community and businesses to foster innovation.


Proposed outreach locations include:

  • Port Douglas
  • Weipa Town
  • Wujal Wujal
  • Cook Shire
  • Bamaga
  • Thursday Island
  • Gulf Savannah (various locations - Georgetown, Chillagoe, Normanton)


Spaces and people are already “on the ground” in these areas. For example, Savannah House in Georgetown is a Council building with a meeting room and connectivity facilities currently leased by Northern Gulf Resource Management group (Ignite FNQ Ltd member). Also, libraries and teaching facilities in the Region underutilised (e.g. TAFE north Bamaga and Thursday Island, Chillagoe Library which is currently open only one day per week) and may be used to foster innovation in outreach communities.

Other outreach locations will emerge organically over the three years based on interest and demonstrated willingness from local communities. Core locations will reach out across the Region to educate and inspire local communities to innovate.

The Team at Ignite FNQ

John Mlikota

John Mlikota - Board Chair

Board Chair


John is a contrarian thinker, always challenging conventional thinking. His passion is people. He is singularly motivated to helping individuals achieve their financial independence.

John (BCOM, GDipFP, FCA, FSIA, AFPA, GAICD, FAIM), is an accomplished management consultant, private investor, mentor and business man. He is well travelled having worked throughout Europe, USA and Australia.

He commenced professional life as a chartered accountant prior to becoming a management consultant. He found his passion in the workings of investment banking, venture capital and investment markets.

He holds various director positions across industries and non for profit organisations.

He established Independent Capital Advisers which holds an Australian Financial services Licence to provide financial and investment advice to individuals and corporates.

Julie-Ann Lambourne

Julie-Ann Lambourne - Deputy Chair

Deputy Chair

Board Directors

Julie-ann is a Torres Strait Islander woman descending from Mabiaug and Darnley Island.

Has a wealth of experience with over 20 years in the State and Federal Government in education, employment and training portfolios. Julie-ann has also worked in the Social Services sector in homelessness, social services and youth. Julie-ann’s experience includes community development, social engagement, mental health skills and management skills which have translated to the development of programs within the framework of community and individual capacity building for the future.

Julie-ann is a founding member of enVizion Group and was motivated by her commitment to delivering better and more creative programs that have the impetus to propel people into a future that allows the individual to identify and commit to. Julie-ann is passionate in development Indigenous businesses and leaders; and working with disadvantaged people to overcome adversities

Rochelle Finlay

Rochelle Finlay -

Board Directors

Rochelle has over 25 years’ experience in the creation and development of innovative research programmes with a strong focus on growing and managing collaborative programmes that link industry, business and research. Her original training in environmental and life sciences provided an essential formative background that then expanded across diverse sectors and disciplines including many years with government regulatory and research investment agencies in New Zealand, Australia and the UK, research institutes in New Zealand and, for the last 12 years, the Australian and New Zealand tertiary sectors.

As the Director of JCU Connect – James Cook University’s one stop shop for research support, commercialisation and partnering - Rochelle leads a team of professional staff in pursuit of its mission to provide strategic and operational support for JCU researchers, and ensuring external access to JCU’s intellectual property, expertise, facilities and innovation centres.

Rochelle is passionate and committed to innovation strategies that build networks of industry, business and education working together to create successful ecosystems that allow today’s students and researchers to become tomorrow’s innovators, entrepreneurs and community leaders.

Regional Innovation Coordinator

Regional Innovation Coordinator

Lara Wilde is the independent Regional Innovation Coordinator in a part time capacity.

Lara has successfully worked in local Government, project management, recruitment and retention, economic development and her own private businesses in remote, rural and regional parts of Australia. Throughout her career Lara has honed her commercial project management skills in the areas of community resource projects, infrastructure and agriculture amongst others. 

Currently Lara is the Regional Innovation Coordinator for Ignite FNQ fostering innovation the the Far North Qld region and supporting stakeholders to develop innovative services and products and engage with markets such as Asia.  Lara’s work with partners such as the FNQ Food Incubator has resulted in new opportunities and new strategies.

Lara also owns Wilde Drive, a business focussing on providing support and advice for people to have safe, simple, stylish adventures on the road.  Through Wilde Drive, Lara writes articles for a number of publications and speaks at a variety of events.  Wilde Drive also has an online store Wilde Garage that provides performance parts and accessories for automotive enthusiasts. Lara works closely with automotive enthusiasts and innovators throughout Australia to commercialise new products for the industry and develop manufacturing and export options internationally.