Brisbane’s brightest young tech entrepreneurs are gearing up for the trip of a lifetime.

River City Labs’ Startup Cataylst is an annual pilgrimage to Silicon Valley for 20 young Queenslanders who have the potential to be Australia’s next batch of globally successful tech entrepreneurs.

For 10 days, from 28 September to 7 October, participants will visit the offices of global tech giants like Facebook, Twitter, Apple and Google, attend networking events with startup founders and student entrepreneurs and take part in educational events, to equip them with an understanding of what is involved in launching a globally successful tech startup.

This year, the annual program saw the highest number of applications ever, with over 131 technically savvy candidates applying from all across the state.

River City Labs founder, Steve Baxter

River City Labs founder, Steve Baxter

Founder and financial backer Steve Baxter says he was blown away by the quality of the applications.

“It was very hard to choose, but we have some awesome people in this year’s program,” he says.

“We picked 20 technically bright students who we thought would do exceptionally well in the tech world and potentially be future startup entrepreneurs in the industry.”

Steve says the students, who range from 18 to 25 years old, aren’t all tertiary educated.

“The program is heavily based on practical and technical skills, so it doesn’t matter whether the students have studied at University, Tafe, or they’re self taught, as long as they have those skills,” he says.

“We live in a world where technology literally affects the lives of billions of people, and we need to continue to grow in that area.

“It’s important that we have an economy in the future, with much smarter programs than we have now.”

Steve says the young students will be immersed in the richest and vibrant tech culture of today.

“We’ll be going to where the Cloud lives, checking out Twitter, doing a Facebook tour and a Facebook programming exercise, a Google tour and heaps more,” he says.

“I want them to come away from the experience feeling that they need to move faster, to create something new and different now. It’s not meant to be a holiday.

“Google, Uber, Facebook, Twitter… they’re all huge, and we want companies like that founded here in Australia. Preferably in Brisbane!”

Steve says the program originated out of frustration.

“I kept hearing about people’s half good ideas, but none of them had the technical abilities to be able to follow through on them,” he says.

“We need to develop our technical abilities to be able to carry the tech industry further, and this program is doing that.

“I’m looking forward to witnessing how the experience further equips and teaches these emerging entrepreneurs. Queensland’s startup scene will certainly be better off for it.”

University of Queensland student and Startup Catalyst participant Marisa Emerson says she’s looking forward to the opportunity to meet leaders in the tech field.

“I’m excited to learn about how global tech businesses are created, and hope the experience will be able to guide me in the future in tech,” she says.

For more information about the Startup Catalyst program, visit