MAKING WAVES:  Duncan Webster invention remains shrouded in mystery.
MAKING WAVES: Duncan Webster invention remains shrouded in mystery. Stuart Quinn

Qld man's mystery fishing invention

EXCLUSIVE: Hobby fisherman Duncan Webster has invented a contraption that could create waves in the recreational fishing community, but he's been sitting on it for a decade - until now.

The Marian-based former cane farmer turned mining professional has been using the device for years, but it wasn't until a couple of mates tried to buy one when the "light bulb moment" happened.

His invention remains shrouded in mystery as it goes through the patent application process.

"I designed something for the recreational fishing market... and during that time I only used it for my own personal use," he said.

"I think it's far superior to anything out there in the marketplace."

Mr Webster's shift from garage inventor to budding entrepreneur is typical, according to peak economic lobby group Great Whitsunday Alliance, in a region where everyone from farmers to tradies don't realise they're innovating on a day-to-day basis while solving problems.

"Mackay as a region we are typically always very hard on ourselves ... what we actually are as a region is resilient," GW3 manager Kylie Porter said.

"We are conditioned to doing great things with very little resources and doing things on our own."

It comes as new independent research, commissioned by GW3, revealed the extent of Mackay's innovation ecosystem.

The data is being heralded as the most robust work done on the innovation scene in Mackay since a similar state government report in 2016.

The report found of the 101 respondents, more than half are from small and medium businesses, 73 per cent were based in Mackay and every one in five are from the mine equipment, technology and services sector.

The 2016 state government report painted a dismal picture of the Mackay region, rating it below Cairns and Rockhampton in the number of organisations involved in the innovation space per capita

But those operating in the space believe that has more to do with people not identifying themselves as "innovators".

"We uncovered a whole lot of businesses, individuals who identify as having a great idea or somewhere on the innovation continuum," Ms Porter said. "We think it's a very small drop in the ocean, we think that there is probably three times or four times as many innovators that are out there that we don't know about because there are so many that don't identify as innovators."

Mr Webster expects a decision to be made on the patent in about two to three months.

"A simple little idea that I used for personal use that now has a chance to become marketable," Mr Webster said.

"I'm just taking it step by step and seeing where it leads."



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