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29 Jan

National Diabetes Week: It’s About Time

by launch-admin Jan 29, 2019 0 News

National Diabetes Week: It’s About Time


9 July 2018: This years National Diabetes Week continues the “It’s About Time” theme, reinforcing the need to detect all types of diabetes earlier, and take preventative measures seriously before it’s too late. National Diabetes week is nationally recognised and will run from the 9-15th July.


Recent statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare state that the prevalence of diabetes (based on self-reported data) has tripled between 1989–90 and 2014–15.

 

Diabetes Australia supports this and adds further shocking statistics such as:
  • Around 1.7 million Australians have diabetes.
  • 280 Australians develop diabetes every day. That’s one person every five minutes
  • More than 100,000 Australians have developed diabetes in the past year.
  • Total annual cost impact of diabetes in Australia estimated at $14.6 billion.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of preventable blindness in Australia.
  • There are more than 4,400 amputations every year in Australia as a result of diabetes.
  • Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia; increasing at a faster rate than other chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
  • For every person diagnosed with diabetes there is usually a family member or carer who also ‘lives with diabetes’ every day in a support role. This means that an estimated 2.4 million Australians are affected by diabetes every day.
Nexba Beverages recognises the undisputed link between sugar consumption and diabetes, both directly and indirectly. With Australians consuming the weight of over 1.9million kangaroos worth of sugary drinks every year and diabetes sitting as the 7th highest cause of death in Australia now is the time to start getting serious about sugar consumption and educating Aussies on the effects of sugar in out diet.

 

It’s statistics like those above that quite frankly p*** us off hence why we are so passionate about serving our fellow Aussies with quality naturally sugar free products to show our bodies some love.
ENDS


29 Jan

Girl Geek Academy Reboots Work Experience for Year 10 Girls

by launch-admin Jan 29, 2019 0 News

Girl Geek Academy Reboots Work Experience for Year 10 Girls
Pioneering #SheHacks program helps students create their own startup
26th – 30th November, OneRoof, SouthBank


Australia, 20 November 2018:  Girl Geek Academy has partnered with world leading technology businesses Deloitte Digital and 99designsthe world’s largest online graphic design marketplace – to pilot a first-of-its-kind work experience program where students from Korowa Anglican Girls School will work alongside industry experts to create their own startups.


The Monday and Tuesday will see 40 Year Ten students learn key STEM skills directly from industry role models at Deloitte and 99designs to hone their talents as “hackers, hustlers and hipsters”. Teams of 3 will then collaboratively build a startup on Wednesday and Thursday, and instead of a “shark tank,” teams will present back to students in a friendlier “dolphin tank” format on Friday.


The week-long program will be held at the OneRoof all-women coworking space in Southbank from 26-30th November.


“Entrepreneurship and technology skills are key to the future of work for the next generation of students and we want to give young Australians a head start,” explains Girl Geek Academy Co-founder and CEO Sarah Moran.


“Gone are the days of running around getting coffees. We’re making sure students actually have the opportunity to experience work – and that the opportunities are immediately relevant and aligned with what young people are telling us they want and need to experience in these programs,” Sarah said.


Korowa Anglican Girls School Deputy Principal Liana Gooch said the program will equip students with valuable tools and insights, whilst spending quality time getting to know leading women in technology, STEM and the startup ecosystem.


“We are keen to ensure our students see the relationship between the STEAM skills learned in the classroom and their practical application in the real world. It’s exciting to collaborate with industry professionals to bridge that gap and showcase what a career in technology actually looks like,” said Miss Gooch.


At present women only make up 16% of all Australia’s STEM fields, but through initiatives such as this, Girl Geek Academy are on a mission to reverse the statistics and teach one million girls and women to learn technology by 2025.


The #SheHacks Work Experience is a bespoke program, customized to individual interests and learning methodology.  The program is designed to help the students explore their interests and passions in the STEM working landscape, and to help achieve gender equality in industry roles and sectors which traditionally attract less women.


Sarah Moran said the pioneering initiative is critical at this time when graduates face many uncertainties in the work market and are looking for more relevant employment experience that will help them to be truly work-ready.


“According to the Foundation for Young Australians it now takes almost 3* years to get a stable job after finishing education, compared to 1 year a generation ago. VicHealth recently hosted a deliberative forum bringing together a jury of 54 young people aged between 18-26 years to discuss the issues youth face in the workforce environment. The youth forum made a number of asks to the community to assist young people in the transition to purposeful work and the #SheHacks Work Experience program addresses more than half of these requests,” she said.


The six areas addressed by the #SheHacks program include.
  • High-school students gaining life skills and knowledge through experience.
  • Changing career-building culture in schools, universities and families
  • Building Work Readiness
  • Mentorship and programs to guide students and allow them to engage in different career options.
  • Investigation into current and future professional landscape
  • Guidance and education for youths starting new businesses.


The #SheHacks initiative will extend into high-schools around Australia in the coming year.  To organise an event or for further information on Girl Geek Academy initiatives and programs, please visit: www.https://girlgeekacademy.com.


– ENDS –

29 Jan

Warrnambool Girls Are Full STEAM Ahead!

by launch-admin Jan 29, 2019 0 News

Warrnambool Girls Are Full STEAM Ahead!
Girl Geek Academy to host a first-of-its-kind women’s coding and robotics event at Warrnambool Art Gallery


Australia, 8 October 2018: Social technology enterprise, Girl Geek Academy has partnered with Warrnambool Art Gallery and Creative Victoria through the Engaging Audiences program to put on a series of free innovative technology workshops, sessions, and panels, for women at Warrnambool Art Gallery from October 12-13.


In just a single day participants will learn to code rainbow LIFX lightbulb patterns using Python programming, get to know the art of game design and even dabble with robotics. The event will be the first of its kind to be hosted in Warrnambool, which will also offer participants access to some of the celebrated women currently showcased in the acclaimed Codebreakers exhibit. This will be the debut of the LIFX workshop for Girl Geek Academy.


The first day of the workshop will be held for local school-aged girls, while the second day will be open to women of all ages.


At present women only make up 16% of all Australia’s STEM fields, but through initiatives such as this Girl Geek Academy are on a mission to reverse the statistics and teach one million girls and women to learn technology by 2025.


Girl Geek Academy Co-founder Lisy Kane will be presenting as part of a panel at the event. The award winning games producer and Forbes 30 under 30 alumni will discuss her wave-making career that has seen her ranked alongside the world’s top game makers.


“Girl Geek Academy is now Australia’s first organisation solely dedicated to boosting the number of women with successful STEM careers. We do this by working with companies, schools and governments to improve their capacity to support women at all stages in the talent pipeline: from teaching young girls to code at age five right through to getting more women into senior technology leadership roles.” Ms Kane explains.


The initiative at Warrnambool Art Gallery is just one example of many Girl Geek Academy run in an attempt to teach and excite girls about the field technology. The team are also set to run a dedicated programming space at Melbourne’s upcoming PAX Aus gaming conference this month, highlighting some of the most innovative work from female coders around the world.  


ENDS


29 Jan

ROTTEN TOMATOES CO-FOUNDER & FORMER CEO PATRICK LEE IN AUSTRALIA AND CHAMPIONING ASIAN REPRESENTATION IN ENTERTAINMENT

by launch-admin Jan 29, 2019 0 News

ROTTEN TOMATOES CO-FOUNDER & FORMER CEO PATRICK LEE IN AUSTRALIA
AND CHAMPIONING ASIAN REPRESENTATION IN ENTERTAINMENT

21 August 2018, Melbourne, AUSTRALIA:  Patrick Lee, co-founder and former CEO of Rotten Tomatoes, the world’s most influential movie and TV review aggregate site, has joined forces with leading influencers within Australia’s startup community to launch a local push for greater Asian representation on global screens.

The successful MediaTech entrepreneur is using the new film Crazy Rich Asians to showcase the commercial potential of featuring more Asian-Americans in film.  The #GoldOpen movement is a successful US social change campaign which has seen Asian industry leaders buy out whole cinemas to ensure the success of the movie on the opening weekend.  The romantic comedy is the first all-Asian blockbuster movie to come out of Hollywood in 25 years, following The Joy Luck Club in 1993.

Girl Geek Academy co-founder Lisy Kane has partnered with Jeanette Cheah from The Hacker Exchange, Nick La from WePloy and Sheryl Thai from Cupcake Central to host a “Gold Open” screening of Crazy Rich Asians in Melbourne next month as part of this drive for increasing diverse representation in media and business.

“Girl Geek Academy is about challenging the stereotypes and creating positive and visible new role models – whether that’s for women within the tech or gaming world, within cultural groups or the LGBTIQ community,” says Kane, who was recognised by Forbes in its prestigious top 30 list: Forbes 30 Under 30 2017: Games at the age of 29.

LA-born serial entrepreneur Lee, who took 12 years to graduate from college because he was so focused on building companies, says it’s important to have more Asian faces in film.

“We need Asian representation on our screens and, more importantly, to send a message to Hollywood and the film and television community worldwide about its commercial viability,” Lee said.

Crazy Rich Asians, which is currently 93% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, opens August 30 in Australia. In the US, its commercial success has been resounding, making about $US34 million in its opening 5 days.

Jeanette Cheah said: “I had quite an emotional response to this movie, because growing up as an Asian Australian it’s so rare to see Asian faces on screen and you often feel there is a very defined path to success. Seeing Asian actors playing fun, romantic, lead roles is a powerful way to bust that myth.

“At The Hacker Exchange, our two founders are Asian American and Asian Australian. We are all about showcasing Aussie startup talent on the global stage, building a diverse pipeline of leadership, and creating a strong community. Seeing the Gold Open success in the US was proof of what a community can do when people back each other, and we wanted to be a small part of that,” Cheah said.

Australian audiences can put the #GoldOpen concept to the test on September 7 at Melbourne’s Village Cinemas Crown, located within the bustling Crown Melbourne casino complex.

The fundraiser for charity One Girl is being hosted by emerging Asian entrepreneurs, rather than ‘crazy rich’ Asians, but all are welcome to attend in the spirit of inclusion and ensuring the films’ success at the box office.

ENDS


29 Jan

Coding classes for girls and the wonderful women in their life to role model learning in STEM

by launch-admin Jan 29, 2019 0 News

Coding classes for girls and the wonderful women in their life to role model learning in STEM

Girl Geek Academy school holiday workshops will upskill parents and guardians alongside their children to address the wider societal issues of gender imbalance

Australia, 9 January 2019:  Girl Geek Academy has partnered with regional women’s health promotion agency,  Women’s Health East to deliver a series of STEM-focused workshops aimed at tackling gender imbalance in technology careers and promoting equality in the classroom.

The workshops will be rolled out in  January and March 2019 across Melbourne’s East to support mums, daughters, aunts, nieces, grandparents, neighbours, and more groups of women and girls to learn coding together. Every young person will bring along a parent or guardian and Girl Geek Academy will be delivering the successful  #MissMakesCode program model, which is specifically aimed at engaging young girls aged 5-8 into STEM.

Girl Geek Academy co-founder and CEO, Sarah Moran said: “Currently there is a lack of a STEM-based program that educates both women and girls in the same classroom, and we know the exponential value of working to build intergenerational STEM knowledge. By bringing women and girls together into one workshop, we are able to create something more vital and long-lasting — an instant role model within their immediate family.

“By upskilling the women parents and guardians, the girls have a role model in their household who shows confidence and interest in technology, and can work with them on coding games and STEM schoolwork. It could also be an opportunity for the women to explore a new career path option if they wish to cross-skill into this in-demand profession.”    

The sessions will focus not only on technical coding skills, but also contain content and discussions around gender equality and cyber safety. Studies show that gender equality is a precondition for the prevention of family violence and other forms of violence against women and girls.  

“It’s a privilege to partner with Women’s Health East on this initiative. Studies have shown societies with more gender equality have decreased rates of family violence, because it creates a society based on respect. Gender equality affects everyone, men and women, and should be a priority both in the workplace and in the home,” said Ms Moran.  

Women’s Health East is the women’s health promotion agency for the Eastern Metropolitan Region (EMR) of Melbourne. Its vision is equality, empowerment, health and wellbeing for all women. A key priority of Women’s Health East is advancing gender equality, through important projects like #MissMakesCode.

“Women are underrepresented in STEM-related fields. This is not because of a lack of talent, rather women and girls experience a range of gendered barriers to getting involved in STEM. Some of these begin early where girls are not encouraged to develop analytical and spatial skills through play. #MissMakesCode is a fun way to begin to bridge this divide for young girls in the EMR,” said Jayde McBurnie,Together For Equality & Respect Manager.

Through this initiative, both Girl Geek Academy and Women’s Health East hope to address the issue of gender inequality in STEM subjects, which is a leading cause of workplace inequality as there are simply not enough women with the skills to work in technology and STEM careers.

Ms Moran continued: “Our long-term aim is to explore whether this important behaviour modelling will result in influencing more girls to continue with STEM education, which we will do with ongoing evaluation at regular intervals after the workshop.”

These workshops are supported by the Victorian Government as part of  Free From Violence – Victoria’s strategy to prevent family violence and all forms of violence against women. The initiative’s goal of creating a safe and equal society for all Victorians is championed by Girl Geek Academy, whose focus is on addressing a broad range of technology gender equality issues.

Supporting partners also include Yarra Ranges Council, Inspiro Community Health, Maroondah Council, Whitehorse Council and Monash Council.

For more information, please visit:  www.girlgeekacademy.com/events

– ENDS –


29 Jan

CA ANZ partners with Fishburners to capitalise on disruption in the profession

by launch-admin Jan 29, 2019 0 News

CA ANZ partners with Fishburners to capitalise on disruption in the profession

28 October 2018: Today Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) unveils its plan to align with leading innovation community Fishburners as part of its strategy to strengthen the accounting profession for the future.   

“Our Strategic Review, involving more than 100 member workshops, confirmed that the profession is changing rapidly, with much more diversity and disruption than experienced in the past. For the profession to remain at the forefront, it is vital we keep pace,” said Rick Ellis, CEO of CA ANZ.

           

“Members, particularly in public practice, yearn for connections with new solutions, technologies and insights to be able to shape the services they offer.”

“One source of this disruption is within innovation communities – they are evolving business models, creating new markets and driving operating efficiencies.”

CA Catalyst brings together Chartered Accountants from all segments, innovation communities Fishburners, Stone & Chalk and The Icehouse, and technology providers to create opportunities for mutually beneficial collaboration.

“This includes immersions within innovation communities, access to training, toolkits and guides for disruption-readiness, and exposure to practical solutions,” said Ellis.

“CA Catalyst is an opportunity for Chartered Accountants to get on the leading edge of the future of accounting, build personal and organisational capabilities, explore new markets and services, and leverage innovation to provide greater value for themselves, their clients and their communities.”

Fishburners is a well-established not-for-profit in Australia, nurturing high impact, scalable start-ups in a culture of shared ideas and experiences.

“This partnership and professional exchange offers fantastic learning opportunities for both organisations and will generate huge benefits to our startups as they prepare to expand,” said Pandora Shelley, CEO of Fishburners.

“Much of the conversation in the startup world is focused around securing a funding outcome. Yet, understanding when to take on external funding and how to apply that funding efficiently is equally important – with many of our most successful startups boot-strapping for a significant period in the early stages.”

“Fishburners is focused on supporting startups at every stage in their growth journey.  Helping them to start out strong, with a firm financial foundation is critical.”

“Many startups, particularly at early stage, don’t have the resources to take on a senior CFO who can provide this kind of advice.”  

“Through this partnership, start-ups can have access to accounting and financial expertise, assisting them to make confident and accurate decisions about their growth.


END

29 Jan

Australia’s largest startup community, Fishburners, doubles its Brisbane operation in second year

by launch-admin Jan 29, 2019 0 News

Tech sector in shock at AA Bill:

StartupAUS deeply concerned about big step backwards

for Australian technology


Australian startups left reeling from the rushed legislation passed late yesterday evening in what amounts to an own goal by the Australian government


Australia, 24 October 2018: Australia’s largest non-profit startup community, Fishburners, has doubled down on its Queensland presence, growing to a 205 desk operation within the two-year old Capital hub in Brisbane’s CBD.


The growth follows a successful two-year partnership with the City of Brisbane and a steady increase in the demand for desks within Fishburners’ Brisbane and Sydney operations. Through the City of Brisbane, Fishburners are in the process of launching two new accelerator programs, including a Launchpad for startups looking to scale to Asia.


Fishburners hosts Australia’s largest startup community – with 383 startups and 728 entrepreneurs across the Sydney, Brisbane and Shanghai working hubs. The successful startup funnel has mentored and grown currently more than 1,800 entrepreneurs and 1,250 startup entities since opening.


Fishburner’s CEO Pandora Shelley said, Fishburners is a community which helps foster and grow startup businesses, offering much more than desk space.


“We’re on a mission to help inspire tech startups to take their first step and to support each stage of their growth journey.  This year, Fishburners is itself scaling up, with demand for our services seeing unprecedented growth over the past year,” said Ms Shelley.


“There is enormous entrepreneurial energy coming out of Queensland at this time and the Capital is a vibrant and visionary initiative which has really helped fuel local startup growth. We are thrilled to take our partnership with City of Brisbane to the next level with this expansion.”


Brisbane City Council’s Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said he is excited to watch the growth continue as Brisbane transforms into a national innovative hot spot.


“Brisbane is transforming into a business and innovation hub, with our attractive lifestyle offering, links to overseas markets and great employment opportunities, [we are] luring start-up’s to build a global business in our own backyard,” said Cr Quirk.

Fishburners is a family of entrepreneurs who are committed to collaborating and building something big. Members are supported in their endeavors with perks, probonos, mentoring, events and programs etc.

 
Community is the foundation for Fishburners and to become a member or “Burner” is a special thing. All members must agree to Fishburners’ values of collaboration, brilliance and community, namely: “We give back whenever we can”. It is a proud, inclusive and discrimination-free space.

Fishburners’ startups create products in a broad range of categories, here are the top 5:
  1. B2B (36%)
  2. SaaS (29%)
  3. iOS app (28%)
  4. Android app (23%)
  5. Marketing (23%)

Originally located in Ultimo, within four years Fishburners went from one floor to taking up the whole building. A new chapter for Fishburners Sydney, began in 2018 in the new coworking space within the Sydney Startup Hub, which has set a new standard for startup spaces in Australia.

High-profile alumni that were ‘born’ at Fishburners include successful startups such as Koala, GoCatch, graphic design marketplace DesignCrowd, Code Camp, Tinybeans, Madpaws, Jayride and Hyper Anna. Koala, Australia’s highest-rated mattress, raised $15m and generated $14m in revenue in its first year.

All up, Fishburners has provided a community space and startup resources for over 100,000 people with support from category-leading partners including Google for Entrepreneurs, UTS and Optus and government partners such as Jobs for NSW and Brisbane Marketing.


ENDS


29 Jan

Two Health Tech Fishburners Finalists in 2018 Google.org Impact Challenge

by launch-admin Jan 29, 2019 0 News

Two Health Tech Fishburners Finalists in 2018 Google.org Impact Challenge
“Burners” Xceptional and Radiant compete for up to $1 million in grant funding


12 October 2018, Sydney AUSTRALIA:  Anxiety-reducing autism app Xceptional and mental health social enterprise Radiant are amongst the 10 finalists in this year’s Google.org Impact Challenge, an initiative by Fishburners’ partner, Google for Entrepreneurs.
Now in its third year running, the challenge is open to Australian organisations whose innovative ideas for change are making an impact locally and globally.


Both Fishburners finalists are in the health tech space, a startup sector rapidly growing in Australia.


Xceptional is changing the lives of autism sufferers by using advanced software testing to address autism unemployment. 125 million people worldwide experience autism yet this group is often underemployed. The app uses activity-based assessments and games to reduce the anxiety that often comes with autism and prevents 65% of people with autism from gaining or retaining employment. Many people with autism have an incredible eye for detecting patterns in data and an ability to sustain superior levels of concentration, making them uniquely qualified to make exceptional contributions to tech and data teams. By mitigating anxiety and testing for functional skills, the Xceptional app will empower autistic employees to flourish, help employers embrace the benefits of neurodiversity, and make a massive dent in autism unemployment.


Radiant, a subsidiary of Relationships Australia and a registered charity, uses data-driven algorithms to match mental health professionals to help-seekers based on their needs. Recent reviews suggest the quality of this match is the best predictor of positive therapeutic outcomes and that many of the 1 in 5 Australians suffering from mental health issues would be more empowered to seek help if their path to assistance were more easily navigated. Longer term, Radiant will be able to identify mental health problems sooner and connect users to help faster, through an AI inference engine assessing search data.
The general public can vote for one finalist to receive the $1 million People’s Choice grant. The judges, including  Dr Sarah Pearson, the first chief innovation officer at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Dr Alan Finkel AO, Australia’s eighth Chief Scientist, will then choose a further three winners. Winners will be announced on 1 November.
Up for grabs is an additional $5.5 million in project funding: judges will select four winners to each receive $1 million in grant funding, as well as support from Google volunteers. The remaining six finalists will each receive $250,000.


The Google.Org Impact Challenge Hall of Fame includes Professor Fred Hollows who used mobile technology to check for blinding damage caused by diabetes and Jack Bancroft who created the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience – an online game to inspire young indigenous students to learn maths and science.
Fishburners CEO Pandora Shelley said the community is proud to see fellow startups recognised.
“Our focus this year has been on strengthening our internal community and this is really coming to the fore with social impact organisations getting the support and acclaim they deserve,” Ms Shelley said.
“Startups like Radiant and Xceptional are putting mental health and wellbeing into the spotlight and reducing the stigma.”
They join the ranks of other Burners making technology and innovation for the advancement of society. This year Fishburners, Australia’s most established startup community, celebrated its seventh anniversary.


ENDS

9 Dec

Tech sector in shock at AA Bill: StartupAUS deeply concerned about big step backwards for Australian technology

by launch-admin Dec 9, 2018 0 News

Tech sector in shock at AA Bill:

StartupAUS deeply concerned about big step backwards

for Australian technology


Australian startups left reeling from the rushed legislation passed late yesterday evening in what amounts to an own goal by the Australian government


Australia, 7 December: StartupAUS today expressed its disappointment to see the passing of the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018 in the Senate yesterday evening.  While StartupAUS acknowledges the need to combat dangerous criminal activity, this bill is both ineffective at doing so and creates a significant burden for the local technology sector.


In the latest edition of its flagship Crossroads report, StartupAUS details an increasingly hostile political attitude towards the technology sector. In an environment where legislation is difficult to pass on any issue, it is particularly frustrating to see bipartisan support for a bill that furthers Australia’s tech-phobic position in comparison to its international peers.


At a fundamental level, this bill puts Australian startups under a regulatory burden that is unique to them, and limits the level of security that Australian startups can develop. Startups will need to allow for the possibility that Australian law enforcement coerces them to ‘build new capability’ to decrypt communications for law enforcement. Such work will require development time and cost, and while some reimbursement possibilities are included in the bill, startups typically exist with very short cash runways and are put at existential risk when having to conduct significant activity that takes away from core business. In addition, the act of creating the capability to bypass privacy features itself carries with it an inherent risk of compromising users at the hands of cybercriminals and other rogue agents who take advantage of the added security bypasses.


In so doing, Australian startups will be left hamstrung when negotiating to export their digital services, given that in any competitive deal no global company will choose a weakened system provided by a company whose employees can be legally forced to comply with the Australian government, while also being unable to inform management that they are doing so.


International organisations providing similar digital tools will also be subject to these requirements and may simply choose not to operate in Australia – either cutting off Australian consumers from tech products or removing Australia as a destination to house a development team. In Crossroads 2018, released on 6 December, StartupAUS talks at length about the need to encourage international R&D on Australian shores – this legislation serves as a further barrier to that goal.


Finally, the bill circumvented with relative ease by those it is designed to foil. Criminals – in particular high-stakes criminals like the paedophiles or terrorists cited by the proponents of the bill – will be able to use software developed overseas, open source chat applications or operating systems, or even develop their own encrypted chat applications. At the same time, regular law-abiding Australians using software which is subject to compliance will have their security weakened, increasing the risk of cybercriminals, hackers and rogue agents getting access to their data and communications.



ENDS


9 Dec

StartupAUS’ Fifth Crossroads Report: Australia’s next generation of growth companies flourish amidst record capital – despite tech-phobic climate, talent shortages

by launch-admin Dec 9, 2018 0 News

StartupAUS’ Fifth Crossroads Report: Australia’s next generation of growth companies flourish amidst record capital – despite tech-phobic climate, talent shortages


South Australia emerging as a global hot spot for space and defence


Five years after the formation of StartupAUS in 2013, Australia has the fundamentals in place to support a flourishing startup ecosystem, yet significant challenges remain including talent shortages, constrained research and development support, and a cooling attitude toward technology among voters and politicians.


Releasing Crossroads 2018, the comprehensive review of the nation’s startup ecosystem, StartupAUS CEO and lead author Alex McCauley highlighted the milestones that have defined our maturing ecosystem.


“We have seen powerful organic growth over the past half decade – startup formation rates have exploded and new precincts, hubs and programs have emerged to support this.  We have also seen our next generation of world-class, global technology leaders emerge including Aconex, Wisetech Global, Envato and Atlassian along with growth companies Canva, Culture Amp, Airwallex and Afterpay.  Venture capital has risen dramatically, providing unprecedented growth opportunities for Australia’s best and brightest startups.  And at least two billion dollars of extra funding has been directed towards startups and innovation through the National Innovation and Science Agenda and state government innovation funds.


“These successful tech brands have generated thousands of jobs and are producing billions of dollars in new value for our economy.  Despite this unambiguous success, our startup sector faces unprecedented global competition and has started to lose its lustre politically. We need to address those challenges if we want to continue to grow quickly,” Mr McCauley said.


A Challenging Political Climate
Mr McCauley said the innovation portfolio has been affected by numerous leadership changes in recent years and “innovation” no longer had a Federal portfolio minister (whereas it had two in 2016).


Mr McCauley said an apparent tightening of the R&D Tax Incentive scheme for software claimants, combined with a promised ‘crackdown’ on the scheme, had the potential to cripple Australia’s emerging tech sector if left unchecked.


“This is the single most important program any government in the country delivers for startups. It has been a core part of the success we’ve seen in the tech sector over much of the last decade. This is a program that was introduced in 2011 specifically to help software development get the same support as other forms of R&D. It would be hugely damaging to have that slip away.


“Looking to the future, as much as 25 per cent of the Australian economy could be directly impacted by software by 2025. That’s A$524 billion of GDP. This is a watershed moment for Australia. We have a chance to set ourselves up for the economic change that we all know is coming, but right now our R&D spending is below the OECD average and falling. At a time when we really need to be thinking ambitiously about R&D we are tightening the belt. That’s something we urgently need to address.”



Need for Talent
The 2018 Crossroads foreword, contributed by Melanie Perkins CEO and Co-founder of Canva, which became a unicorn this year, reiterates the need for Australia to lure top talent, which goes hand-in-hand with one of the report’s key recommendations to improve Australia’s entrepreneur visa.


“The current political and visa climate in the US puts us in a position to be able to attract the world’s best talent. We should be latching onto this opportunity, seeing it as a great chance to win talent and figuring out what we can possibly do to help attract more. That also means we need to be open to migration as a way to upskill our own local talent through mentoring and exposure to the best and brightest in every field,” Ms Perkins stated.


University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Innovation and Enterprise, Professor Glenn Wightwick, said there had been significant growth in both the number and success of student startup founders, demonstrating the university’s commitment to fuelling the ecosystem’s talent pipeline.

“We believe that equipping the Australian startup ecosystem with high-quality entrepreneurial talent is key to maintaining the exciting momentum we’re seeing today,” said Professor Wightwick.

“For example, our UTS Startups program is now home to over 130 startups since its launch in July this year, highlighting the student appetite and enthusiasm for this space. As part of the founder journey, we’ve also made a commitment to reaching 50 per cent of our students with entrepreneurial experiences in the next five years, which includes boosting activity such as bootcamps, startup internships, workshops and competitions.

“As a long-standing supporter and champion of the Australian startup ecosystem, we are also excited about the milestone initiatives this year such as the opening of the Sydney Startup Hub and the plans for a Tech and Innovation precinct in Central Sydney. We acknowledge these advances but also reinforce the calls by StartupAUS for greater consideration to be given to the Federal Innovation portfolio and associated policy initiatives at this critical time for our next generation of Australian companies.”


Sally-Ann Williams, Google’s Engineering Community & Outreach Manager, said startups are integral to boosting the prospects for Australia’s future prosperity. “For Australia to capture some of the enormous value technology will bring in the years ahead, we want to help develop an environment that encourages the creation of successful technology companies – tech startups are a critical part of this picture”, said Mrs Williams.


Venture Fundraising
There is good news on the funding front for later-stage companies. Figures reveal the expanding availability of later-stage capital in recent years, with Series C rounds increasing.  


The availability of venture debt has increased, broadening the types and sources of funds startup founders are able to access. Estimates show Australian venture firms held about $3.3 billion in unspent growth capital in mid-2018, suggesting this availability is likely to remain strong.


“The availability of venture capital is critical for startups to move beyond the fledgling stage and expand whether that be their products, national scope, or reaching out to lucrative international markets,” McCauley said.


South Australia: State in Focus
This year’s Report includes a spotlight on South Australia, highlighting the South Australian government’s investment of more than $400m in Lot Fourteen – a creative and innovation neighbourhood spread over seven hectares in the Adelaide CBD.


Lot Fourteen,  already home to a cluster of companies from fast-growing industries, will blossom into an innovation, incubator, startup and growth hub to give aspiring entrepreneurs the opportunity to collaborate with startup founders, researchers, industry, business mentors, investors and other support services to bring their ideas to market.


“Adelaide has the potential to become a global hotspot and a hub for defence and space startups, and Lot Fourteen is a key factor in helping to attract that global interest,” said Mr McCauley.


Report Recommendations
The 2018 Report makes ten key recommendations to address issues holding the industry back:

Key Sector Statistics and Milestones
Australian venture capital firms raised more than $4 billion in new funds between 2015 to mid-2018. Using various sources of funding, many Australian startups achieved promising milestones in 2018, ranging from major public listings to closing funding rounds, achieving revenue growth targets, and expanding into international markets.


These include:
  • Canva raised $50.9m in January 2018 at a valuation of more than US$1 billion. According to CB Insights, it is the only privately-held tech company in Australia valued at over US$1 billion.
  • Gilmour Space Technologies, a rocket launch provider based in Pimpama, Queensland, raised $19m in September 2018 to push towards launching its first commercial hybrid rocket by 2020. The Series B round was led by Main Sequence Ventures and Blackbird Ventures. Blackbird also led the company’s $5m Series A round in May 2017.
  • Culture Amp, a Melbourne-based employee feedback and analytics platform, raised US$40m ($54.3m) in Series D funding in July 2018, following on from its Series C round of US$20m ($26.4m) in June 2017.
  • Havven, a blockchain startup specialising in decentralised payments, raised US$30m ($38.6m) in its 90-minute initial coin offering (ICO) on 1 March 2018.


The StartupAUS Crossroads Report 2018 is supported by a broad consensus of corporate and community partners, including StartupAUS’ Leadership Partners, Google and UTS, alongside leading investors, scale-ups, and established corporates.


StartupAUS Crossroads is a comprehensive analysis of the startup ecosystem. For more information and the full report visit: www.startupaus.org/crossroads
ENDS






Sophie Hanson
Launch Management Group Pty Ltd
 
office: + 61 2 9492 1003
mobile:            + 61 4 1792 7316
website: www.launchgroup.com.au



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