News & Analysis

NSW Minister for Innovation Victor Dominello rejects claims the NSW tech ecosystem is falling behind

- November 24, 2015 3 MIN READ

Workplace messaging platform Slack has today announced that it has chosen to open its Australasian headquarters in Melbourne, following fellow global names Zendesk and GoPro. While Melbourne notches up another win, conversation around the Sydney tech scene of late has been somewhat more sober, centered on the sale of the Australian Technology Park.

While losing bidders Atlassian slammed the sale as a “missed opportunity” for the state, NSW Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Victor Dominello has rejected these claims, pointing to initiatives such as the Data Analytics Centre as signs that the NSW tech industry is well placed as a national leader.

“NSW is definitely, definitely showing leadership in this area, and it’s the place to be, quite frankly,” Dominello said.

The Minister told Startup Daily that “just because the ATP hasn’t gone the way some people wanted it to go doesn’t mean there aren’t other opportunities.” The biggest of these, of course, is the proposed White Bay Power Station hub, announced by Premier Mike Baird last month.

“We’ve got Google interested in White Bay, and Google is one of the biggest elephants in the room when it comes to this sector…[White Bay] will absolutely be a shining light, not just in NSW, but around the world, and that puts us on the map in a big way,” Dominello said.

However, he added that the Government is looking beyond White Bay. Dominello is working with Planning Minister Rob Stokes to see where the Government can put in place structures to support organic growth.

“Everywhere I go, people want their place to be a hub. If I go to Newcastle they want a hub there, if I go to the Illawarra they want a hub there, Macquarie Park…just because Mirvac won the bid for the ATP and CBA is moving in doesn’t preclude other opportunities from occurring, whether it’s the Bay Precinct or Macquarie Park or any other area,” Dominello said.

“In Macquarie Park, you’ve got a natural fit there for a PharmaTech centre with all the pharmaceuticals there. That would be a natural, organic thing to do. You can go to another area like southwest Sydney that might have a manufacturing-type component to it. What we need to do is look where the strengths are and put some government support around it.”

With Atlassian too dedicated to the creation of a hub, the company has been in discussions with Mirvac to see what kind of presence the company may be able to have at the new ATP development.

Atlassian’s global head of real estate, Brent Harman, said that the company is still learning about what Mirvac has proposed, but “at first glance” it seems unlikely they will be able to create a real tech ecosystem at the ATP.

As has been detailed before, Atlassian’s bid for the ATP focused on Atlassian as the anchor tenant, supporting coworking and incubator spaces, educational space, retail, short stay accommodation, and space for community activation.

“Now taking that brief and overlaying it against what Mirvac have got planned, we’re still not convinced there’s enough space to get done what we need to get done. But we don’t want to just be dismissive of it; it’s important that we do look at it, but that’s where we are at the moment, so we’re continuing to ask some more information from Mirvac to form a final view,” Harman said.

He said the White Bay precinct also presents its own set of problems, from the lack of mass transit to questions about rental affordability and timing, with the proposed development expected to be complete in 2020 and no solutions in the works to help in the meantime.

“One year in technology is like dog years, a lot can happen,” Harman said, but stressed that Atlassian is committed to finding a solution.

Image: Victor Dominello, Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation. Source: Victor Dominello MP Facebook page.