The UK is ready for the Australian and New Zealand tech invasion.
With 30 significant tech clusters, a record A$20 billion in UK venture capital investment in 2020 (the third highest in the world) and new Free Trade Agreements with Australia and New Zealand, the UK is our oyster.
The proof is in the (British) pudding.
Over recent years, tech companies from Australia and New Zealand have expanded into the UK and found notable success. For many, this all started with being selected to be part of the UK’s Department for International Trade’s (DIT) London Tech Week Virtual Mission.
What is London Tech Week?
One of the crown jewels of the international tech calendar, London Tech Week (September 20 to 24, 2021) brings together the world’s leading founders in tech, global leaders and senior investors to collaborate and discuss the latest innovations in tech.
DIT is hosting the London Tech Week Virtual Mission from September 20 to 29, a special program that will give Australian and New Zealand scaleups the chance to get involved with the tech festival and get a foot in the door of UK expansion.
The virtual mission will help local founders to discover new market opportunities, tap into the knowledge of UK tech’s biggest players, and learn about the benefits of the new UK-Australia and UK-New Zealand Free Trade Agreements.
Calling all Australian #tech companies looking to grow!
The UK #tech sector has reached new heights and is the first country in Europe to reach 100 unicorns 🇬🇧🦄
— Dept. Int.Trade Aust (@tradegovukAUS) June 22, 2021
The success stories
Former AFL players James Begley and Matthew Pavlich set up Pickstar to create a simple online marketplace for connecting guest speakers and brand ambassadors with organisations for commercial opportunities.
They expanded to the UK after attending the London Tech Week Virtual Mission last year.
“The London Tech Week Virtual Mission 2020 was so valuable for gaining insights on setting up your business in the UK,” says Pickstar COO Jessica Millowick.
“From the challenges of opening a UK bank account to the value of having a physical office, these are insights we wouldn’t have gained otherwise.”
Today, Pickstar has more than 2000 athlete and celebrity talent listings in Australia and hundreds in the UK. They were able to set up successfully in the UK with the assistance of DIT, and they’re growing their team “significantly” as they scale up their operations globally.
Millowick’s advice for other local scaleups is to put serious thought and preparation into executing an expansion and seek the help of people who know the market best.
“It’s helpful to have an experienced employee from your Australian business on the ground in the UK and failing that – have someone dedicated to UK hours and bringing the team together,” she adds.
“Reach out to those with experience in the UK market, like the DIT – it’ll open up a lot of doors.”
carbonTRACK is on a mission to promote sustainable energy use. The brainchild of Melbourne entrepreneur Leonie Ladgrove and co-founders Spiros Livadaras and Shavaj Kallamkote, carbonTRACK is a patented intelligent energy management platform that connects energy generators and users to help control energy use, cut costs and share energy.
After winning the DIT’s Tech Rocketship Awards in 2019, Ladgrove joined the London Tech Week delegation in person in 2019 and virtually in 2020.
“We happened to attend a session where we were put on the same table as UK company BankEnergi,” Ladgrove recalls.
“After swapping stories, they revealed they were running a consortium and thought carbonTRACK would be a good technology fit for what they were trying to achieve: an Innovate UK grant to develop a whole systems smart energy platform.
“In a hurry, I rushed back to Australia and told my business partners we need to set up in the UK immediately.”
On Tuesday one of carbonTRACK’s co-founders, Leonie Ladgrove was invited to speak about our entry into the UK, as a part of the @tradegovukAUS and @Global_Vic doing business in the UK presentation.#digitalenergy #energymanagement #carbontrack#globalvic #uktechrocketship pic.twitter.com/cqNohstpHO
— carbonTRACK (@carbonTRACK_AU) March 5, 2020
carbonTRACK set up their European headquarters in Birmingham in September 2019.
“After my London Tech Week experience, our priorities quickly shifted and I’m so thankful we took the opportunity to explore what the UK had to offer,” Ladgrove adds.
“The consortium also won the Innovate UK grant – talk about sliding doors moments.”
It’s good news for New Zealand tech companies looking to set up in the UK, too.
Richard Eaddy’s Auckland-based fintech Hedgebook has become a world-leading cloud-based treasury management solution to help businesses make better FX hedging decisions.
With the support of the DIT network and their programs, Eaddy established an office in London in 2017.
Eaddy, Hedgebook’s CEO, decided he needed a senior manager on the ground for at least a two or three-year period to get the business rolling – so he made the big move himself.
“As a UK entity, Hedgebook was able to access DIT’s global spread, which has opened doors in Europe, with Hedgebook attending a trade mission to the Netherlands and meeting DIT offices in other European countries,” he said.
“More recently, Hedgebook has been part of the Leading Edge program, whereby DIT introduces fintechs to banks in Singapore, Australia and North America. DIT has also undertaken some market validation work on behalf of Hedgebook. All of this has contributed to Hedgebook’s growing success in the UK and Europe.”
While Eaddy was able to move before COVID-19, he advises Australian and New Zealand scaleups who don’t necessarily have that chance right now to “identify potential partners in market who can help with expansion”.
Being part of the London Tech Week Virtual Mission provides this opportunity, though it’s also worth noting that the DIT has Australian and New Zealand teams offering free support and online resources to business owners keen to expand to the UK.
Join the London Tech Week Virtual Mission
Applications for the virtual mission are open until Friday August 6, 2021.
The mission is free for Australian and New Zealand businesses to join, however applicants will be selected based on their readiness for expansion to the UK.
Selected businesses will gain access to a curated program designed for Aussie and Kiwi scaleups in the following tech sectors:
- Creative technology (AR/VR/MR, Gamification, Adtech, Media, E-Commerce, Sportstech, Marketing Tech);
- Digital health and wellness
- Future Tech (AI, Cyber, Blockchain/Distributed Ledger, IOT, Robotics, Big Data, Space)
- Impact technology (using tech to make a positive environmental or social impact)
In addition to the main program, there will be in-person networking events in Adelaide, Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.
There will also be virtual evening sessions tailored to local scaleups covering areas such as capital raising, visas, research and development, grants and brand building.
If you’re ready to be the next success story, apply now on the London Tech Week Virtual Mission ANZ website.
This article is brought to you by Startup Daily in partnership with the UK Department for International Trade.