News & Analysis

City of Sydney releases tech startup action plan to support the growth of the startup landscape

- June 30, 2016 5 MIN READ
City of Sydney

The City of Sydney has unveiled its tech startup action plan to support local entrepreneurs and nurture new businesses. With the draft released last year, the launch of the plan follows on from extensive community consultation and aims to foster a vibrant tech startup ecosystem and raise the profile of innovative startups.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the City is already home to Australia’s highest concentration of tech startups, but there is still plenty of potential to grow.

“As we move away from an economy built on digging up coal, Sydney’s thriving startup scene will play a crucial role in building a sustainable long term economy,” Moore said.

“We’ve developed our tech startups action plan to encourage more people to take the risk on starting a high potential startup, to increase opportunities for them to access investment and talent, expand office and event space, create a more connected ecosystem, and reduce the regulatory barriers they face.”

The action plan is a 10-year plan that aims to further support industry programs that provide entrepreneurship skills and knowledge and has revealed that it will help startups to better connect with high profile investors.

The five areas of focus include building a strong entrepreneurial culture and community, creating skilled and connected entrepreneurs, increasing the startup ecosystem density, supporting entrepreneurs access to funding, and developing entrepreneurs’ access to market.

The City’s proposed projects include investigating the need for an entrepreneurship centre, which will provide a critical mass of office and event space for tech startups and the organisations that support. The plan also outlines the possibility of creating a Sydney tech startup festival to celebrate and promote the ecosystem, which will include digital tech education activities in the City’s programs.

The City’s Knowledge Exchange Sponsorship program will be implemented to support education and networking activities coordinated by the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Along with the program, the City of Sydney said it will continue to collaborate with its partners to develop business and entrepreneurship education and mentoring opportunities to assist angel investor associations to hold investor recruitment events.

The City of Sydney also stated it has adopted a lean startup approach to the plan, in that it will regularly measure, evaluate, and review programs that best support these businesses. The plan also includes scope to amend its programs as needs and demands change. It is designed to address the needs of individual tech startups as well as support organisations that help them to launch and scale, such as accelerators and incubators.

The cities draft plan was viewed by more than 3,000 people during a three month public exhibition last year and in total received close to 400 submissions of feedback from people and organisations through an online survey.

The feedback revealed that people want more skills and knowledge training to help start and scale business through programs, workshops, seminars and international speakers.

“The needs of tech startups are often very different to those of other small businesses. To create the jobs of the future, we need to find ways to develop more skilled entrepreneurs, particularly women, and enable them to scale and succeed in a large and often global market,” explained Moore.

According to Startup Muster’s 2015 survey the city of Sydney is home to the majority of Australia’s startups, with 44 percent of all startup companies based in Sydney, with Melbourne coming in with second with 17 percent. These stats have surely shifted somewhat, given the survey was taken in early 2015, but the fact that Sydney is home to more startups still holds true.

Mark Pesce, startup entrepreneur and host of the startup podcast This Week in Startups Australia (TWISTA), said the support from the City is vital for the startup ecosystem to thrive.

“This formal support plan gives all stakeholders a clear vision for where, how and when the can assist with the growing needs of this ecosystem,” he said.

“It’s an important signal to investors that Sydney is a great place to grow a business.”

The City of Sydney already supports local tech startups through a number of events including, CeBIT business technology conference, Asia-Pacific summit REMIX, global coworking conference Unconference, Springboard Enterprises Australia, 101 Business Seminars and Startup Week Sydney.

However, the support of tech startups not only needs to come from the government, but industry leaders, with collaboration an area that needs to grow if Sydney ever wants to be a dominant leader in global tech startups.

Earlier this year some of Sydney’s most prominent tech entrepreneurs joined forces to create the not-for-profit organisation TechSydney. The organisation was born to address one of the most important issues facing the ecosystem: collaboration. Sydney fell from 12th place to 16th place in the Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking last year, with many seeing the lack of collaboration as a likely contributing factor. The City of Sydney’s vast layout inhibits startup proximity and a number of regulatory issues are preventing it from reaching its potential as a startup destination.

Dean McEvoy, cofounder of Spreets and CEO of TechSydney, previously told Startup Daily that the government is an instrumental part of the equation but it’s not the driver.

Us, as entrepreneurs who have done it already, are the ones who know what it takes to grow a company, we know the problems that need to be fixed, and some of those problems are not necessarily fixed by government or policy, some of them are fixed by better communication about what it’s like to work in a startup to get more people in, for example. There are lots of things that need to be driven by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs.”

Governments are slowly getting on board, however. Earlier this month the NSW Government announced $25 million in funding for the establishment of a Sydney School of Entrepreneurship, a joint venture between NSW universities and TAFE NSW to “[place] NSW at the epicentre of entrepreneurship in the Asia-Pacific region”.

The City of Sydney aims to build its community of startups and understands that the tech startup ecosystem is dynamic and rapidly changes year on year. In light of this the City acknowledges that the current priorities and projects will likely change. Identified projects may not be required and new priorities may emerge. To keep the community informed the City will be report on its progress in achieving its targets and will identify trends on an annual basis, determined by the outcomes achieved. At the end of the first five years of the implementation of the action plan the City will undertake a major review.

Each year, the City has said it will confirm commencement dates for projects and as these projects are further developed announcements will be made of their allocated budgets and what resources are needed to deliver them.

“We know there’s fierce international competition for the jobs and economic benefits tech startups can bring. We’ve listened to our residents and the entrepreneurial community, making the most of their insights, skills and knowledge to help draft a plan for making Sydney a globally competitive tech startup hub,” said Moore.

Earlier this year Startup Daily spoke with Moore on how the city can build the startup ecosystem and what is needed for startups to be competitive globally.


Check out the full report at the City of Sydney website.

Image: City of Sydney councillors. Source: City of Sydney.