Renewed government interest along with increasing international investment is spurring on the growth of Australian technology start-up businesses. With competition between international venture capital funds heating up and new government initiatives designed to nurture start-ups, the future looks promising.
A 2013 comprehensive study of Australia’s local tech start-up community conducted by a prominent professional services firm projects:
If technology start-ups received the investment required the country could benefit from an additional $109 billion injected into the economy along with 540,000 jobs by around 2033 along with a well-functioning start-up eco-system.
Niki, Scevak, Co-Founder of Blackbird Ventures, explains that Silicon Valley in the southern San Francisco Bay Area, may still be seen as the central hub for start-ups in the eyes of the international business community, but its role in the growth and success of start-ups is decreasing.
“Silicon Valley is seen as the central station for the start-up worlds, but as the capital required to start a start-up has decreased, the network effect of Silicon Valley has decreased. Entrepreneurs can now start anywhere in the world. They may build a significant presence in Silicon Valley over time, but the majority of their growth happens elsewhere. Look at Skype, from Estonia; or Zendesk, from Denmark; or Atlassian, from Australia. All are seen as Valley companies but started elsewhere,” reflected Mr Scevak.
The firm provides equity capital for Australian formed, globally operating, entrepreneurial internet businesses. Blackbird Ventures is the country’s only company to have managed to coax-out capital from local superannuation funds and holds the title of Australia’s most tech-focused venture firm, having launched the biggest fund for early-stage technology companies founded by Australians the country has ever seen.
The local tech start-up community has welcomed newly released policy drafts. The policies are calling for such changes as:
According to community organisation Startup Victoria, board member, Scott Handsaker, if the government wishes to see ever improving and long-term sustainability when it comes to Australia’s start-up sector, then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull needs to make educating the public and his own party about the imperative of embracing tech-focused businesses a high-priority.
"We desperately need people to understand how fast the world is changing, so we can take the steps we need to keep up as a country,” said Handsaker.
Mr Scevak, shares Mr Handsaker’s sentiment.
"Our education system needs to evolve. It creates far more lawyers and beauticians but nowhere near enough software engineers. If the government can move that forward, there would be cause to get genuinely excited,” he said.
Despite the challenges ahead, Startup AUS CEO, Peter Bradd believes the fresh government interest is exactly what is needed to propel Australia into the future and set burgeoning innovative businesses up to compete internationally.
“The announcement of a coordinated approach to bring together innovation initiatives right across government will enable Australia to take advantage of these new growth opportunities and ensure Australia’s place as a first world economy,” said Mr Bradd.
The Australian ICT professional association is also optimistic about the future direction for Australian technology start-ups.
“It is extremely encouraging to see Innovation as part of a portfolio at the Federal level. Innovation is the key to achieving sustained economic prosperity and particularly for Australia as we look to reduce our traditional reliance on the mining sector and develop new engines of growth,” said Kim Finch, CEO of the Australian ICT professional association.