SCU hosts Surf Industry Forum

Published 14 September 2016

Sarah Beardmore
It is the Gold Coast money-maker which rolls in with the tide.

But while the surf industry has long been the bread and butter of the Gold Coast’s success, a new wave of decision-makers will descend on Southern Cross University this week to join the discussion on the sport’s future.

On Thursday September 15, the Gold Coast campus will host the 2016 Surf Industry Forum with special guests pro-surfer Sarah Beardmore, Gold Coast Surf City Inc president John Nielsen, multiple start-up founder Brandon Lowery, international expert in corporate governance Professor Ian Eddie, from the University’s School of Business and Tourism, and sport and exercise science lecturer Jak Carroll, who is currently researching surf schools in Australia.

Hosted by the University’s School of Business and Tourism, the forum is designed to explore some of the issues, challenges and opportunities facing the global surf industry, which provides an economic impact of more than $3 billion annually into the Gold Coast economy.

Professor Eddie said it was a major boon for the University to host such a high-calibre panel for the Gold Coast forum.

“The presenters will explore insights into the global economic and social impact of the surf industry, organisational challenges, strategic management practices of surf schools and entrepreneurial activities within the surf and action sports industries,” he said.

“We will also examine the challenges for surfers during contests, investment opportunities for wave pools, and the board-shaping industry.

“Our aim is to inspire students and young entrepreneurs to continue developing careers and businesses in surfing and the action sport sector. To do that they need better data, analysis and business information skills so that more effective business decisions can be made to support the continued development in the sector.

Professor Eddie said Southern Cross University’s research into understanding the social, environmental and economic impact of the global surf industry was vital to ensure the continued sustainable development of surfing as a competitive sport and lifestyle for millions of surfers globally.

“We are looking at how we can help students work with the industry and prepare people most effectively for it. Southern Cross University is a leader in surf research on the Gold Coast and globally, alongside San Diego State University, with Jak Carroll among the first researchers to look into surf schools and the industry from an academic point of view.”

Professor Eddie, a surfer for more than 50 years, was a foundation member of the World Surf City Network representing the Gold Coast, is the Deputy Chair of Gold Coast Surf City Incorporated, a member of the International Association of Surfing Academics and holds other business interests in the USA and Singapore.

He said the Gold Coast was part of a global surfing industry worth about $100 billion in annual economic impact with more than 35 million active surfers.

“If you combine surfing with the action sports industry, including skateboarding, snowboarding and kite surfing – which many surfers also like to take part in – there are more than 250 million people worldwide, and we should be targeting those cross-sport disciplines to come to our city.”

Panel guests include founder of the Bondi Rescue Lifeguards and the founding chairman of the Gold Coast Surf Industry Taskforce, John Nielsen who is credited for his role in turning the Gold Coast into Australia’s ’Surf city’. Mr Nielsen has worked at O’Neill International Promotions, Barnes Management, the Indycar World Champs and Bellsport. He has managed a number of Australian Olympic gold medallists and Iron Woman world champion Karla Gilbert.

Director of Action Sports Agency Brandon Lowery will draw on his experience in leading start-ups and advising stakeholders on how to build profitable organisations, including merges and acquisitions with RedBull, Fox News Corp, Microsoft and other private equity groups, and his roles in companies California Skateparks and Liquid Time, The International Skateboarding Federation, Powdr Corp, and with members of the International Olympic committee.

Sarah Beardmore, entrepreneur and professional surfer who also studied a Bachelor of Business Administration, majoring in tourism and hospitality, as a distance education student at Southern Cross University while on the international World Star tour, is also on the panel.

Sarah won European, British and English surfing titles and is the cofounder of Dorsal - a crowdsourced shark reporting and alerting platform - and the founder of Nown, an interactive social and crowdsourced global directory mobile application that connects like-minded people, places and things.

Stakeholders from across the Gold Coast and Tweed Heads will attend the Surf Industry Forum this Thursday from midday to 2pm, where members of the public are welcome. Places are still available, however numbers are limited.

To secure your seat email

Media contact: Jessica Huxley media officer, Southern Cross University Gold Coast and Tweed Heads, 07 5589 3024 or 0417 288 794