The Refinery is back – get help to turn your creative idea into a sustainable business

Following its hugely successful launch in 2019, The Refinery creative incubator will return to the Sunshine Coast in 2020.

The free eight-week program joins the dots between creativity and business and sees participants take part in an incubator program to refine, test and launch their creative ideas as a sustainable business.

Applications are now welcome from individuals and groups from across the creative sector including visual art, screen, design, architecture, publishing, literature, advertising, media, podcasting, game development, fashion, performing arts, music, heritage and artisan craft.

Delivering access to mentors and a network of inspiring industry leaders, the program provides participants with the business skills, tools and connections to turn their idea into reality.

Arts Portfolio Councillor Rick Baberowski said the inaugural program delivered beyond expectations, receiving almost 90 applications and attracting big name mentors including Heidi Middleton.

“In 2019, the program helped 17 start-ups to develop, refine and launch their creative ventures,” Cr Baberowski said.

“Once again, The Refinery is set to feature a line-up of notable local and national creative leaders, with workshops, one-on-one mentoring and industry networking events.

“The Refinery is a fantastic program that is definitely contributing to our healthy, smart, creative vision for the region”.

Sunshine Coast Creative Alliance president Dr Sue Davis said the theme of The Refinery 2020 was Start something that matters.

“Following the recent bushfires we have witnessed the incredible power of artists and businesses banding together to raise funds, support recovery, inspire hope and make change,” Dr Davis said.

“With that in mind, The Refinery 2020 theme is Start something that matters and we’re inviting creatives to start something that matters to themselves, their place or the planet.”

At the completion of the 2019 program, Wildlings Forest School, Project Fort Awesome and Talk Revolution were awarded funding through The Refinery to kick-start their business journey.

When reflecting on The Refinery 2019, participant Nicki Farrell of Wildlings Forest School said they had condensed three years of work into just a few short weeks and met invaluable mentors who helped take their creative education start-up to the next level.

Applications are invited from Australian residents nationally, and shortlisted applicants will be required to attend a bootcamp on the Sunshine Coast on Saturday, March 21 to assess their proposed business idea.

Almost 90 people applied to be part of The Refinery 2019, with 34 projects progressing to the one-day intensive bootcamp and 17 selected to participate in the incubator.

Key Dates

Applications Open       February 3, 2020

Applications Close      March 2, 2020

Bootcamp                   March 21, 2020

Incubator                     May 7 – July 2, 2020

Find out more and submit an expression of interest at

The Refinery is an initiative of Sunshine Coast Council in partnership with SunCentral Maroochydore and Sunshine Coast Creative Alliance. Proudly supported by Advance Queensland through the Sunshine Coast Regional Innovation Program (SCRIPT), CQ University and Arts Queensland through the Regional Arts Development Fund.

Image: The Refinery 2019 funding recipients Samantha Taylor (Project Fort Awesome), Tash Lawton (Talk Revolution), Nicki Farrell and Vicci Oliver (Wildlings Forest School)

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