Transitioning to a high-tech South Australian economy – Part Two

Transitioning to a high-tech South Australian economy – Part Two

I left off last time looking at the emerging economy and how South Australia is operating in certain key industries. But what are the strategies or pillars supporting our progress in these industries? What key tenets underpin the growth of high-tech in Adelaide? Four themes seem to be clearly emerging:

  1. Connections to visionary people and global brands
  • Tom Hajdu was appointed Chief Innovator to advise the Premier. Tom was attracted by our clean air, food and water and the high-speed broadband available in the Willunga region. He is able to run his US businesses ‘tomandandy’ and ‘Disrupter’ from an idyllic farm on the Fleurieu Peninsula in the outstanding wine region of McLaren Vale.
  • Elon Musk visited Adelaide twice in 2017 – first to announce the installation of the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery and then to attend the International Astronautical Congress.
  • Techstars established its APAC accelerator in Adelaide with a focus on defence and IOT startups. US startup experts Terry Gold and Chris Chang moved to Adelaide and lent their considerable expertise to the development of high-tech startups.
  • Bridge to MassChallenge held its Australian boot-camp in Adelaide and several Adelaide startups have qualified to go to MassChallenge Boston 2018.
  • Technicolor has announced that with State Government support it is to locate an Australian operation in Adelaide, providing 600 jobs in the VFX industry complementing the vibrant sector here led by Rising Sun Pictures.
  1. Building research and entrepreneurship capability along with enabling infrastructure
  • Adelaide became the first GigCity outside the United States, providing 14 high-tech precincts access to high-speed internet (gigabit-per-second). This creates many new opportunities for business. When US city Chattanooga became a GigCity in 2010, it evolved into a startup hub attracting companies from Manhattan, San Francisco and Austin. The GigCity infrastructure will be further developed in 2018 and beyond, to cement Adelaide as the high-speed broadband capital of Australia.
  • Adelaide is now the only city outside of the US in the Global Ignite program. This was on show at Hybrid World Adelaide, a five-day event using cutting-edge technology and high-speed internet through GigCity. This event showcased digital music, film, drones, group gaming classes and a HWA Lab Startup Hackathon moderated by US tech pioneer Robert Tercek and assisted by the team from TechInSA.
  • The University of South Australia was funded to increase the impact of its Australian Business Growth Centre led by Jana Matthews to assist even more companies scale for international growth.
  • The Future Industries Accelerator was established at Mawson Lakes to dramatically increase industry access to university capability and to enable a researcher to be placed into businesses for free, for a year, to solve their deep technical challenges; or for business to come and utilise the high-tech facilities of the Future Industries Institute.
  • The three universities grew their entrepreneurial programs – New Venture Institute (Flinders), Venture Catalyst (UniSA) and eChallenge (Uni Adelaide) – and eChallenge went global with eChallenges in Singapore, France and Italy. The University of Adelaide also opened its highly regarded startup incubator ThincLab in a prominent CBD location.
  • The Australian Institute for Machine Learning was established at the University of Adelaide with a $7m grant from the SA Government to leverage the world-leading reputation that the university enjoys for machine learning.
  • Flinders University won two NISA Grants to further develop its New Venture Institute startup incubators in Adelaide and Mt Gambier.
  • The Tonsley Innovation Precinct grew dramatically and there are now more people working at Tonsley in its high-tech businesses and institutes than when they last made cars there.
  • The State Government will contribute $44 million towards a new state-of-the-art medical research hub, SAHMRI 2, to house the southern hemisphere’s first proton-therapy research centre.
  • Leading cyber security company, VeroGuard Systems, is to build a major advanced manufacturing facility in northern Adelaide, creating nearly 600 new jobs in its first three years to establish an Advanced Manufacturing Centre to securely produce its VeroCard technology.
  1. Access to funding and professional support for high-growth next-generation companies
  • The $10m South Australian Early Commercialisation Fund was launched a year ago to provide seed funding to high-tech startups, and TechInSA was established. TechInSA has had a considerable impact on high-tech startup acceleration in Adelaide. In its first year of operation, TechInSA has seen 390 high-tech startups through its doors, assisted 140 startups and awarded early commercialisation grants to over 50 startups totalling $7.5m. Those companies have brought co-investment of $4.8m to the table, and already there has been follow-on investment in those companies of over $20m as they have sought overseas customers and investors.
  • The South Australian Venture Capital Fund was established as a $50m fund to co-invest alongside other VC, creating a $100m pool of venture capital in SA. Blue Sky Venture Capital was appointed to run the fund.
  • In addition to supporting the establishment of the Game Plus Hub in Adelaide, the Department of State Development has established a Games Development Fund which will provide grants to support the establishment and growth of companies in this exciting high-tech industry.
  1. Adelaide on a global stage for partnerships, events and company success
  • SAHMRI has established a joint venture with Chinese multi-million dollar company TUS Holdings from Tsinghua University for a H+ labs initiative to research and develop strategies to be applied globally for the health and wellbeing of international students.
  • Adelaide hosted the International Astronautical Congress, attracting 6000 delegates to Adelaide. Alongside this, an SA Space Industry Centre was established and a global call went out for the establishment of a Space Industries Incubator and Accelerator in Adelaide.
  • To complement the already considerably strong space industries cluster in Adelaide, 2017 saw the emergence of space high-tech startups Fleet, Myriota and Inovor Technologies.
  • Adelaide hosted the National AusBiotech Conference 2017, which attracted over 1100 delegates. In addition, our city also hosted the AusAg & Foodtech Summit, which translates Australian science into business, putting the spotlight on investment in agritech and foodtech innovation.
  • South Australia’s global leadership in renewable energy underpinned by the success of the Tesla big battery (Hornsdale Power Reserve) is seeing approximately $5bn in renewables projects in progress, including the Aurora Solar Project at Port Augusta, additional large-scale grid batteries, several new wind farms and a number of pumped hydro projects, as well as the recently announced virtual power plant in 50,000 homes.

Four Adelaide startups won critical acclaim this year

Importantly, we are getting the message out on a global platform with Adelaide companies winning industry accolades.

Life Whisperer: An AI company to improve successful embryo selection for IVF was the APAC Global Winner of the ‘Best Idea – One to Watch’ category in the 2017 Talent Unleashed Awards by the Award Program’s Judging Panel, which included tech superstars Sir Richard Branson and Steve Wozniak.

Sine: An easy-to-use visitor management system took out top prize at the 2017 West Tech Fest Startup Challenge, the Asia Pacific’s leading competition for digital tech companies

Myriota: A company that develops low-cost satellite communications technology enabling affordable monitoring of anything from ocean temperatures to the level of livestock water tanks was named Best Industrial Startup Company and crowned second-best startup company overall at the world’s largest Internet of Things summit held in San Francisco’s tech heart, Silicon Valley.

TicToc: A startup company that is dramatically disrupting the home loan approval market was named in the Top 50 Emerging Global FinTech Stars in the H2 Ventures FinTech 100 List.

I’m not sure we have ever seen a time like this for investment into our high-tech economic future. There is an incredible energy and optimism around this transition, and I am enormously upbeat about the future of Adelaide and its capacity to impact globally while providing the highest quality of life for its incredibly lucky residents.

Joe Thorp
Chief Executive


Read ‘Transitioning to a high-tech South Australian economy- Part One’.

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