Sunshine Coast movie goers first to see ‘Angels and Demons’ at Bloomhill charity event

Colour LogoGuests attending the exclusive premiere screening of ‘Angels and Demons’ at an evening fundraiser for local charity, Bloomhill Cancer Help on May 13, will be among the first in the world to see the film before its highly anticipated global release on May 14.

‘Through the generous cooperation of the Maroochydore Birch Caroll and Coyle cinemas and Sony Pictures, we have been granted the exclusive rights to screen “Angels and Demons” before its global release which means our guests will see the film even before the stars hit the red carpet at some of the premiere events,’ says event organiser and University of the Sunshine Coast PR student, Chloe Sollom.

‘Angels and Demons’ which is based on the adaptation of Dan Brown’s best selling novel, is expected to ride on the success of its prequel, the internationally acclaimed, ‘The Da Vinci Code’ which went on record as the second biggest film debut for the opening weekend at the global box-office with an estimated $US224 million in earnings following its 2006 release.

The premiere event will begin in the function room of Sunshine Plaza’s Pig’N’Whistle pub from 5pm, where guests will be served a welcome drink and a selection of finger foods before being ushered to the premiere screening of ‘Angels and Demons’.

Not only that, guests will be in the running to win great lucky door prizes, some of which will include a facial from Linda’s Beauty on Buderim, Birch Caroll and Coyle movie vouchers, goodies from San Churro Chocolateria and a selection of wines from the Buderim Tavern. There will also be fabulous raffle prizes including five $100 gift vouchers from Joanne Mercer shoes and a selection of Yves Saint Laurent beauty products.

‘I feel really fortunate to be involved in planning such a great event,’ says Miss Sollom. ‘It provides an opportunity for people to enjoy a glass of wine and a good film with friends while making a contribution to a worthy cause.’

Chloe Sollom, along with three other 21-year-old USC students, Eugiena Pratley, Jacinta Krause and James Caffery started planning the event as part of a ‘Production Workshop’ offered by the university, which gives public relations students the opportunity to apply their skills in a real-life, practical environment.

‘The Production Workshops give USC students a competitive edge that better prepares them for the workforce. Previous USC PR students have been offered great jobs in the industry largely because of their Production Workshop and Internship experience,’ said USC lecturer, Dr Amalia Matheson.

All funds raised from the event will go directly to Bloomhill Cancer Help so they can continue to provide their many invaluable care and support services to people with cancer, their carers and family members.

Tickets to the event cost $30 and include a complementary drink on arrival, finger food, entry into the movie screening and entry into the lucky door prize.
To buy tickets to the event, post your name, guest names, address, phone number, e-mail address and a cheque or money order to Bloomhill Movie Premiere, PO BOX 5477, Maroochydore BC 4558, or simply drop into the Bloomhill centre at 58 Ballinger Road, Buderim. For any enquiries, please contact Chloe on 5445 4389.

Flight Centre website takes off with expertise of Cirrus Australia

Cirrus AustA robust platform and innovative design have been the keys to success behind the newly redeveloped Flight Centre Australia website, according to IBM’s key development partner, Cirrus Australia.

The new website – www.flightcentre.com.au – built by Cirrus Australia, IBM and other business partners on a Websphere Commerce platform and launched in February, is now proving very popular with visitors because of its great look, ease of navigation and vastly increased functionality.

However, Cirrus Australia CEO Darren Phillips said it was the hidden features that were the real success of the project.

“What the visitors see is the great new look, easy navigation and integrated search engine which allows them to shop and book travel with ease. However, behind the glossy exterior is a robust platform designed by Cirrus in conjunction with IBM and other business partners that facilitates an online catalogue, marketing campaigns, and customer shopping experiences,” Mr Phillips said.

“When creating a solution for an iconic brand such as Flight Centre, one of the challenges is the product information update. The details and prices of thousands of flights and accommodation change all the time,” he said.

“The updates need to be available on the site as quickly and simply as possible. Previously a manual process was required each time any product on the site was updated. That manual process was time consuming and created room for human error.

“The new solution automates most of the update process of the product and online catalogue; and thus brings more reliability, accuracy and efficiency to the business flow,” he said.

“Flight Centre has many brands and websites. The platform we have created enables common production information to be updated across all sites once only while also providing a foundation for the integration with other sites.

“The new solution is more stable and faster than the old site with a load-balanced architecture, which automatically balances the load across a number of servers. This minimises the online-access waiting time and the system down time, because the information can be accessed on another server if one of the servers is overloaded or down.

“The web analytics features of Websphere e-Commerce allow Flight Centre to respond to the customer needs more efficiently; thus improving ROI and profitability.” Mr Phillips said.

Flight Centre Global IT Manager Peter Wataman said he was very pleased with the redevelopment.

“Ours was a large project and there are only a few companies with the Websphere Commerce skills to complete it successfully. Cirrus Australia’s IBM certified staff has a reputation for being among the best in Australia,” Mr Wataman said.

For more information about Cirrus Australia, visit www.cirrusaustralia.com.au.

Mum’s the word, this Mother’s Day

STG logo (purple&pink)Life can be very stressful, particularly when you have a household to run and a family to look after; Annette Sym the low-fat cookbook queen is urging people to look after their Mums this Mother’s Day by assisting in maintaining a healthy diet.

Mother’s Day is an opportunity to show our mums the appreciation and care we have for them, and what better way to demonstrate this than through a healthy and nutritious meal made especially for mum on her special day.

“Food has an adverse effect not only on our bodies but our state of mind; this is why it is important to be moderate in everything that we do and eat foods that lift us up, rather than those that make us tired and sluggish,” Annette said.

Annette Sym, author of the Symply Too Good To Be True cookbook range, said that energy levels and moods are reflective of what is put into our body and busy mothers are particularly guilty of not taking proper care of themselves.

Foods that contain high amounts of sugar and saturated fats; such as fatty foods, alcohol, caffeine and processed foods initially provide a sense of contentment but result in a drop in mood and energy an hour after consuming them; which leads to anxiety, stress, irritation and tiredness.

“Some foods that are able to reduce stress levels and maintain energy levels include, fish, whole grain rice and pasta, cereals rich in fibre, oranges, green tea, almonds, and fruit and vegetables.”

“These foods can be added to many dishes or be the main ingredient to a meal,” Annette said.

Annette said that a nutritious meal made for mum will not only be a benefit to her health but will also demonstrate the thought, time and care that you have put into it for her.

“My recipes for BIG BREAKFAST, HAM & CHEESE OMELETTE, or BLUEBERRY FLAPJACKS all from Book 3; LIGHT CREPES from Book 1; or BLUEBERRY AND BANANA MUFFINS, EASY FRUIT MUFFINS, or BEST EVER MUFFINS from Book 2 are all great tasting but much lower in fat than their traditional counterparts.”

All Annette’s cookbooks SYMPLY TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, her CD-ROM MENU PLANNER and GET MOTIVATED & LOSE WEIGHT DOUBLE AUDIO CD are sold in all good newsagencies or visit Annette’s website www.symplytoogood.com.au.

Entrepreneurs get set to launch as recession looms

IClogo1CMYKAs job instability increases and job cuts start to hit Australian workers due to the world economic crisis and looming recession, there are real opportunities for entrepreneurs with great ideas, according to Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast CEO, Colin Graham.

“In a recession there is less job security and sometimes for budding entrepreneurs who have been sitting on a great business idea for years, it is all the motivation they need to recruit themselves and become their own boss,” Mr Graham said.

He said at the Innovation Centre, a University of the Sunshine Coast company, they were already seeing increasing interest in their business development programs, from entrepreneurs preparing to put their previously unrequited plans into action.

Mr Graham said people starting a business because of a recession, or tough times was referred to internationally as necessity-motivated entrepreneurship and said those doing it had the strong added motivation of wanting to take control of their lives to spur them on.

“With figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABC) showing more than 80% of businesses in Australia being small businesses employing 20 staff or less, they are however not alone, but with assistance entrepreneurs have a far better chance of achieving their dreams,” he said.

“Going into business of any kind is not a decision to be taken lightly but if you have the right support, such as the solid business advice and support you could get from a business incubator, the rewards could be fantastic,” Mr Graham said.

“Evidence shows having the support of a centre such as ours markedly increases the chances of business survival,” he said.

Mr Graham said ABS figures showed that 42% of businesses created in 2003/04 ceased operations before June 2006.  Meanwhile in a 1997 study completed in the US by the National Business Incubation Association, statistics showed that business survival rate for incubated businesses surged to 87% from 44% for businesses going it alone.

“Not only that, of the incubated businesses, 84% of them went on to do business in their local region and stimulate their local economies,” he said.

CEO of Innovation Centre’s accelerator client, ThinLinx, John Nicholls is just one example of an entrepreneur who put everything on the line and had worked hard to build a business.

In 2001, Mr Nicholls, then a pilot for Ansett, had a dream to create a low-cost computer that was as powerful as those already on the market, so when Ansett collapsed he, and his wife Jeanne, set to work.

“ThinLinx was launched in 2003 and we spent five years on research and development to perfect the design and now we have a great range of products that start from just US$99,” Mr Nicholls said.

The Hot-E computers replace your desktop box or tower, are so small that they can fit in the palm of your hand, use around 30 times less power than a standard PC and store data on a remote server via the internet.

Mr Nicholls said while it had been a long and bumpy road to realise his business dreams, it had been the Ansett collapse that spurred him on to finally take the plunge and work for himself full-time, having had an interest in computers since the 1980s when he developed a modem for his Atari computer.

“I love my work and we have never regretted our decision to launch the business,” Mr Nicholls said.

Mr Graham said other benefits for entrepreneurs looking to start up in a tough economic climate were that the barriers to start up were often less, though attracting funding could be more difficult.

“That’s why new entrepreneurs need to have good advice so they can put together solid business plans that will attract support.

Mr Graham said the Innovation Centre offered this to businesses within its incubator but also had programs for other entrepreneurs wanting to get the best available start.

On Friday 5 June, the Innovation Centre will hold its Start it Up program, an intensive and practical one-day course on how to turn your business ideas, skills and passion into a successful and profitable business.

“The course is specifically designed to assist ambitious knowledge-based businesses and has experts who have done it themselves covering essential topics such as generating business ideas and opportunities, planning for success, raising finance and developing a results-focused marketing plan,” Mr Graham said.

“Incubated business also have an obvious advantage in that they have access to established business networks and could benefit from the reputation and trust built up around the incubators they were members of,” Mr Graham said.

Mr Graham said the Innovation Centre offered flexibility office space for both start-up businesses through their Business Incubator and those looking to expand through their Business Accelerator, as well as tailored mentoring and support programs.

He said this year the Innovation Centre had also opened up their business development program to businesses outside the Centre, in an effort to support the Sunshine Coast economy.

“We have regular enterprise and networking events, boardroom briefings on relevant issues as well as one and two day courses focusing on starting a business and growing businesses online,” he said.

For more information about the Start It Up program or the Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast visit www.innovation-centre.com.au.

Housing industry needs stimulus of tax depreciation

Deppro logoCalls for the Federal Government to scale back negative gearing are misguided and risk ruining a natural “stimulus package” for the housing and renovation industries, a leading property expert warned today.

DEPPRO Asia Pacific managing director Paul Bennion said he was dismayed that the Community Tax Forum had taken aim at negative gearing and criticised property owners for being able to claim tax deductions against improvements to rental homes.

“Tax incentives like depreciation are a valuable tool to help and encourage investors to keep their rental properties well maintained,” he said.

“This benefits tenants, of course, but also has a wider impact on the community and economy.

“It encourages spending and provides a major boost to the renovation industry and flows on to all those people employed in building trades and the provision of items such as whitegoods, floor coverings, and furnishings.”

Mr Bennion said Australia was facing a housing shortage, with rental properties particularly in demand.

“Vacancy rates are below 2% in all Australian capital cities except Perth and Canberra, where they are only just over 2%,” he said.

“The last thing the Government should be doing is making it harder for property investors to enter the market or build their portfolio.

“This is a time when Australians need to be investing in housing and providing well-maintained homes for people who do not yet own their own – or are choosing to rent for other reasons.”

DEPPRO Asia Pacific is Australia’s leading specialist in tax depreciation allowances for investment properties.

The company has generated more than $12.8 billion in tax deductions for its clients.

“The majority of this money has gone straight back into the economy and supported the residential building industry,” Mr Bennion said.

“At a time when experts are looking for ways to stimulate the economy, it would be foolish to turn off the tap for investors.”

For more information on depreciation you can phone Deppro, the depreciation professionals on 1300 888 489 or visit www.deppro.com.

Join the sustainable energy revolution now and save

Auzion_Logo 09Government rebates for solar energy systems are changing as of July 1, which means converting to sustainable energy will cost more than $4000 extra, according to the sustainable energy experts, Auzion.

Auzion managing director Mark Leckenby said currently the Federal Government offered a $8000 rebate, and a further $966 in renewable energy credits.  However, from July 1, the rebate will be abolished and the renewable energy credits increased by five times to  $4830 for a 1 KW system.

“This means a reduction in real terms of $4136 that the homeowner gets back,” Mr Leckenby said.

He said this meant there was a narrow window of opportunity for people wanting to covert to a sustainable energy system, which fed power back into the energy grid, to lodge an application.

“Our state-of-the-art solar photovoltaic grid connect system saves home owners on average about 20% of their energy costs, which with the current Government rebate and energy credits, makes it possible to recoup their initial out-of-pocket investment (based on a 1KW system) within five years,” Mr Leckenby said.

“Not only that, they will then continue to reap savings on the system, and know they have made a meaningful contribution in terms of environmental conservation and sustainability.”

Mr Leckenby, an electrical engineer, first launched Auzion nine months ago from the Innovation Centre at the University of the Sunshine Coast, after moving with his large family to the Sunshine Coast looking for a new direction.

“I wanted to work in the area of sustainable energy and create a simple way for people in a fast-paced world to make a difference without the inconvenience that is often associated with being ‘sustainable’ or ‘green’,” he said.

“So I did some research and while I saw lots of people selling solar panels for hot water etc, I didn’t see any real innovation, which I saw as an opportunity for us.

“That was the seed of the idea to develop a cost-effective and reliable system that not only reduced a household’s reliance on the energy grid but also contributed something back.

“From there I sought the advice of Innovation Centre CEO Colin Graham and Entrepreneur-in-residence Nigel Hall and set to work on a business plan and the development of our solar photovoltaic grid connect system.”

After just three months, and within two weeks of the launch of the system, Auzion had 50 pre-paid orders.  Now, just five and a half months later, they have installed more than 80 systems and have orders for a further 100.

But not content to just continue with the one product, Mark and his team have already started development of an additional energy management system that will allow householders with Auzion’s solar power systems to monitor their energy use and further increase their savings.

Mr Leckenby said while the testing phase of that project was just starting, he had installed the prototype on his house more than a month ago.

“I have four children, including three girls so I think if our family can reduce their energy consumption without inconvenience, then anyone can,’’ he said.

He said they expected that the additional unit would cost about $500, and potentially save an additional 20% of energy on top of the savings from solar power installation.

“We are now trialing this additional system on about 50 other homes and expect to take it into production later this year so watch this space!

Auzion are also working with the Research and Sustainability Centre (division of University of Sunshine Coast) through a scoping & pilot study of the project. All going to plan, through this study independent results will be published of the project outcomes.

“In the meantime, we recommend homeowners thinking about installing a solar energy system get their rebate applications in by 30 May, to allow time for the applications to be processed by the June 30 deadline.”

Mr Leckenby said Auzion was happy to assist people with information about sustainable living and could assist with the administration of rebate applications when people purchased one of their systems.

For more information about Auzion’s solar energy systems visit www.auzion.com.

Brisbane mobile innovator takes out top award

ilab logoBrisbane-mobile location-based software developer Locatrix Communications has taken out a 2009 Australian Computing Society Queensland ICT Award for the Whereis® Everyone system they developed with Telstra.

Locatrix Communications CEO Mark White said they were delighted to win the Telecommunications Award for the Whereis® Everyone web and mobile phone application that allows friends to locate each other and find places to meet using their Telstra mobile phones.

“The system really is fantastic and allows people to find friends and convenient locations where they can catch up,” Mr White said.
Locatrix, which operates from Queensland Government owned i.lab incubator at Toowong, first developed the mobile Whereis® Everyone application in 2006 and last year helped Telstra launch the web-based version of the application.

i.lab Chief Executive Officer Anne-Marie Birkill congratulated Locatrix on receiving the award.

“i.lab works closely with all our client companies to grow their innovative ideas into strong and sustainable businesses and Locatrix is a perfect ambassador for our program,” Ms Birkill said.

“In their three years at i.lab, Locatrix has developed and commercialised their product and established a fantastic partnership with one of Australia’s premier telecommunications companies,” she said.

Ms Birkill said by providing flexible office space, mentoring by industry experienced professionals and entrepreneurs, skills development and networking opportunities and business development support, i.lab was encouraging investment in new technology-based companies and creating knowledge-based jobs for Queenslanders.

Mr White commented that the success of Whereis® Everyone was down to the exciting range of uses for consumers including being able to share  locations with friends and family, help them connect and share experiences as well as find nearby places to meet, like at a coffee shop, restaurant or bar.

“Whereis® Everyone can send you alerts when your friends or family members are near, and allows you to see any or all of their locations on a map, either on a single mobile screen or from the website,” Mr White said.

He said the application works on any Telstra Next G™mobile.

Mr White said winning the award was fantastic recognition for the Locatrix team and was also evidence of the rapidly growing interest in mobile social networking applications beyond sites like Facebook and MySpace.

Mr White said that unlike tracking applications, Whereis® Everyone gives subscribers full control over whom they share their location with.

“Locatrix and Telstra take the privacy of users very seriously,” he said, adding that safeguards were used to make sure no mobile user is located without their consent.

For more information about Locatrix visit www.locatrix.com and for more information about Whereis® Everyone visit http://everyone.whereis.com.

Coast Nanotechnology targets clean energy sector

IClogo1CMYKNanotechnology being developed on the Sunshine Coast with the support of the Innovation Centre, aims to capture a significant slice of booming clean energy markets.

Nano-Nouvelle, which started in the Innovation Centre’s Business Incubator and continues to get business advice and support from the centre as an associate client, is the brainchild of Geoff Edwards, who is developing a nano-structured semiconductor, in the form of a thin film, to efficiently convert various forms of energy into electricity.

Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast Entrepreneur-in-Residence Nigel Hall said the state-of-the-art technology had great potential across a range of applications, which was why Nano-Nouvelle had just received an AusIndustry Climate Ready grant of $276,000 to assist with research and development.

Dr Edwards, a Coast local who has travelled extensively gaining world-class nanotech expertise, said the semi-conductor they were developing could have a number of applications in the renewable energy sector.

“While our technology is at an early stage of development, potential applications in clean energy are very large. The key to widespread use of clean energy is provision of that energy at a price that is competitive with fossil fuels. Our technology aims to assist this”.

Dr Edwards is excited to be part of the ‘nanotechnology age’ but cautions against being caught up in the hype.

“The current flood of interest in nanotechnology suggests nanotech is very new. In fact, it has been known since the development of aircraft alloys in the sixties that nanometre-scale features play a critical role in the performance of advanced materials.”

“The recent explosion in nanotechnology is exciting as it is providing new ways to manipulate the structure of materials at the nanometre scale (one nanometer is one millionth of a millimeter). However to build a real business, we need to remove the hype and deliver high performance products that can be manufactured at large scale and at a realistic price. Cost and scale have hitherto greatly limited the widespread use of nanotechnology”.

Dr Edwards said he always had a strong interest in renewable energy and was very pleased to be able to return to the Coast to set up his company.

“I wanted my kids to grow up in the kind of environment I did, with the beach at their doorstep and having the Innovation Centre resources available as well as its active development of a local renewable energy industry made this a viable option,” Dr Edwards said. “Grant schemes like Climate Ready, and the old Commercial Ready grants, are also critical to the creation and growth of high-tech companies like ours”.

Mr Hall said as a University of the Sunshine Coast company, dedicated to the development of the region’s economy, the Innovation Centre was proud to be playing a part in Nano Nouvelle’s development.

“Developing this kind of new technology locally shows the depth of talent in the region, talent that we need to use to drive development of sectors such as Green Technologies, Information Communication Technology (ICT), creative and knowledge-based industries,” Mr Hall said.

Dr Edwards said with the Climate Ready grant as well as private investment, Nano Nouvelle would now work on developing proof of concept for this totally new manufacturing technology, a process they were looking to complete by the end of the year.  He said following that they planned to develop devices and scale up over the following two to three years, before undertaking large-scale commercialisation.

Easter doesn’t have to mean death by chocolate – Annette Sym

STG logo (purple&pink)Easter is a time of celebration with family and friends but unfortunately it often results in chocolate overload, but death by chocolate doesn’t have to be a risk according to low-fat cookbook queen Annette Sym.

“At Easter time, you can’t go to the shops without being confronted by chocolate. It seems to be around every corner but you don’t have to try to avoid it completely, just be discerning about what and how much you eat,” the best selling author of the Symply Too Good To Be True Cookbook series said.

Annette said that if you are feeling like you’re missing out when everybody else might be going overboard then it’s ok to allow yourself a treat, otherwise you might be tempted to eat double the amount when you have the chance.

“A couple of pieces of dark chocolate is a healthier choice than milk or white chocolate. Studies into the benefits of dark chocolate are showing that there are antioxidants, heart benefits, and the potential to lower cholesterol and blood pressure through dark chocolate. But, any chocolate is still a sometimes food.”

“Another alternative Easter treat is a piece of a home baked sweet from my low-fat cookbooks. Baking food yourself allows for you to monitor the ingredients in order to keep to your overall daily intake,” she said.
Annette said that if you do over-indulge, it was important not to get disheartened.

“Just renew your commitment to becoming a slimmer, healthier you and get back on track.

“Another way to make sure that you are in control of your intake and to avoid temptation is to communicate with your friends and family, and asking them not to give you chocolate this Easter.”

Not only has Annette sold more than 2.5 million copies of her cookbooks, but she has personal experience, after having lost 35kg more than 17 years ago. Since that time, Annette has been able to maintain a healthy weight range and she has helped thousands of Australians to do the same.

“I understand how important willpower is when trying to lose weight and maintain the lifestyle. It is particularly difficult at Christmas and Easter but it is not impossible and the vital thing is to stay aware of what you are eating, so that you are in full control,” she said.

For more information about any of the Symply Too Good To Be True cookbooks, CD Rom Menu Planner and Motivational CDs go to www.symplytoogood.com.au.

Successful charity op shop opening

Colour LogoOn Saturday we assisted Sunshine Coast based charity, Bloomhill Cancer Help to successfully launch their new Op Shop at Noosaville, with a family fun day.

In just four hours the event, which included a super 30% off sale, the team from Zinc FM with giveaways and hot dogs, face painting and balloons for the kids and a grand opening by former Olympian and Bloomhill patron Raelene Boyle, hundreds of people attended.

The event also attracted significant pre and post event media coverage including being featured on Seven Local News and Win News Sunshine Coast on Monday night, after we submitted a video news release.

The new store is the first for the charity at the northern end of the Sunshine Coast.  It like the other six Op Shops at Maroochydore, Nambour, Buderim, Mooloolaba, Caloundra and the Distribution Centre at Kunda Park, is a vital source of funding for the organisation, which helps people throughout the Sunshine Coast and their families to live well with cancer.  To find out more about Bloomhill visit www.bloomhill.com.au.

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