More than 70 entrepreneurs from across Australia visited Newcastle at the weekend as part of a council campaign to entice innovative businesses and individuals to the city.
The visitors, who travelled to the region at their own expense, were among 460 applicants to the New Move program the council launched in March as an economic stimulus initiative.
Thirty applicants will ultimately be selected by a panel and awarded a $10,000 relocation grant that must be spent in the council area. They will also receive ongoing networking opportunities. Independent economic modelling suggests the program will ultimately create 75 local jobs and drive $25 million in economic output.
The attending applicants enjoyed a curated familiarisation weekend, taking city walking tours and attending an IQ talk from Dr Karl Kruszelnicki at the Civic Theatre. Some travelled from as far as Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Majed Traboulsi, a computer scientist who has lived in Sydney for the past six years after migrating from Lebanon, said he was surprised by talent involved.
"I've met so many talented people, it's ridiculous," he said. "Whoever wins is going to be a great addition to the city. I can see the potential and I want to tap into that."
Mr Traboulsi, 36, said he was "no stranger" to working in start-up businesses and had "plenty of ideas" he hoped to pursue in the city.
"Newcastle was already on my map, and seeing that the city is pretty serious about attracting talent, knowing the infrastructure that is here, the university, the incubation hubs ... I thought cool I'll check it out," he said.
"I would be working remotely initially but I definitely have a lot of ideas."
Deputy lord mayor Declan Clausen said New Move was based on an initiative that had attracted talented individuals to Tulsa, Oklahoma.
"Newcastle is home to world-class education, healthcare, and aerospace hubs, and an innovation ecosystem that supports start-ups. There's no shortage of opportunities for talented and skilled people," he said.
Following their visit to the city, the applicants will be required to submit a video explaining why they want to make the move.
The winners will be announced in coming months.
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