While no overall ecosystem rankings released this year, the 2018 Startup Genome report has identified Australia as a place to watch across a number of sectors.
Australia was in the top five countries for artificial intelligence-related patents and blockchain-related patents in 2017, while Sydney and Melbourne were both highlighted as ecosystems to watch for adtech.
Melbourne was also highlighted as one to watch in the health and life sciences space, and Sydney an ecosystem to watch in fintech.
Alex McCauley, CEO of industry body StartupAUS, said, “These areas that have been carefully nurtured and invested in by government and industry, and this outcome speaks to the success of a focused strategy.”
However, there are a couple of areas in which one may have thought Australia would rank as an ecosystem to watch but didn’t make the cut; despite the patents held in AI and blockchain, Australia was not identified as an ecosystem to watch for blockchain or AI.
Meanwhile, of the five ecosystems highlighted to watch for agtech and new food development, Australia did not make the list while New Zealand did. This comes despite the investment into the agtech sector over the last two years.
Melbourne-founded agtech hub and accelerator SproutX recently expanded into Mildura; founded in 2016, the organisation has taken over 200 startups through its programs and launched a $10 million venture capital fund managed by Artesian.
Meanwhile, Asian accelerator network SparkLabs Groups and the NSW Government’s Department of Primary Industries (DPI) have partnered to create the Cultiv8 agtech program in Orange.
On the positive side, the report also identified Sydney as a top 10 ecosystem for local connectedness, which takes into account factors including sense of community, or people willing to help other people; local relationships; collisions, or “serendipitously running into others from the startup community”; and density of the community.
Bede Moore, director of TechSydney, said that the local ecosystem has made strong progress in the last year with the opening of the Sydney Startup Hub and a “growing events slate” across Sydney and ecosystems around the country.
“As our startup ecosystem matures within Sydney, it’s fantastic to see a more virtuous circle of investment back into the startup community by successful founders and serial entrepreneurs; this passionate support of successful and experience founders is the glue that will bind our ecosystem together and ensure its continued growth,” Moore said.
TechSydney believes the Sydney Startup Hub, however, isn’t enough. Home to Fishburners, Stone and Chalk, Tank Stream Labs, and The Studio, TechSydney chief Dean McEvoy said in February that the space “is already close to capacity”.
With that in mind, the organisation is proposing the development of TechCentral, a technology precinct around Central station, on land that the NSW Department of Transport is looking to hand off.
“There is no more obvious hub for the tech industry: the site leverages existing innovation assets located nearby at UTS and the University of Sydney, and will be a short tram ride from UNSW. Central is also easily accessed by all areas of the city’s public transport system allowing all residents of the Sydney basin access to the prospective precinct, and likewise regional businesses that need to travel to the city,” McEvoy wrote.
Calling on industry and government to “learn from the mistakes of history” and work together to build a precinct that properly accommodates all players, McEvoy said the Central location is a better location than the ATP site, which Atlassian had sought to buy and develop into a tech precinct in 2015.
“Let’s not lose it this time, let’s get together and build something great for the future of this country and the state,” McEvoy said.