BY KENJI SATO
This week Sydney played host to Startup Week, Australia’s largest gathering of aspiring and established entrepreneurs.
From 23 – 30 October, local entrepreneurs were invited to attend over 50 events spread throughout Sydney, everything from workshops, to pitching events, to ‘startup speed dating’.
Startup Week Australia’s stated objective is to showcase the talents of existing entrepreneurs and startups.
It also hopes to to encourage all Australians to get involved in creating and supporting startups, as well as facilitating greater investment and commercial engagement between Australian Tech startups and large organisations.
But Kym Kraljevic, the Community and Engagement manager of Piivot, a partnership of Sydney startups, government, and educational organisations, said that her priority was building up Australia’s young startup scene.
“We need to create more connections across the startup community,” she said.
“We didn’t want to preach to the converted. We’ve managed to get a lot of people on board who are new to it.”
“People think it must be difficult to get involved, but they are surprised about how open it is, and the amount of opportunities there are.”
“Sometimes we’ve got to give people that extra hand to take that first step to get inside a new community. And that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Australia’s startup scene has been described as ‘non-existent’, but there has been significant growth in Sydney, which now houses 64% of Australia’s startup businesses.
Where Piivot is located in Ultimo in particular is described as Sydney’s biggest Tech and Creative Digital Hub, with the highest concentration of tech startups in Australia.
According to a survey by StartUp Muster, Ultimo boasts 51.9 startups per square kilometre – and that number only continues to grow.
Ms Kraljevic said that the future of Australia’s startup scene was in tech and creative industries.
“Creativity is a prerequisite of innovation. We need to support our creative industries as well and help them to use digital technologies and celebrate the ones that are doing it. Just look at ones like Animal Logic.”
Animal Logic is an Ultimo studio that produces special effects for movies around the world, and they have recently discovered an innovative way to implement their technologies, Ms Kraljevic told City Hub.
“At the University of Technology, Sydney, for example, there’s a data arena. It’s a 360 data arena used to analyse big data – monster data sets to look at things from microbiology to assessing all sorts of complex issues,” she said.
The data arena allows you to see the data in 360 degrees and is powered by Animal Logic software and technology generally used for digital effects for films.
“We’re seeing these really beautiful ways in which technologies are coming together and bouncing off each other.”
However, financing has been a challenge for Australian startups. For aspiring entrepreneurs, the difficulty of finding investors has prompted many young Australian entrepreneurs to take their idea overseas for investors, and lobby groups are calling on the government to provide financial support to startups.
“Finance is a problem for any business. There’s always different entities and organisations that are very good at lobbying governments to make those changes and I think there’s some strong ones out there already with a strong voice,” Ms Kraljevic said.
“In the last month we hear rumblings for government about changes and recognition about what’s happening in the startup community.”
“London’s startup scene flourished on government intervention. Piivot has good relationships with government, so I think there’s probably government intervention assistance on the horizon, and that will be well received. Sydney is different from London, but there’s other things we do strongly.”
“It’s something that takes a bit of analysis of where the deficit is to find some support – where government can make the best impact? We’re interested in looking at what the conditions are that are necessary for a strong, robust ecosystem.”
“I think our startup community is incredibly strong, and it’s a great collective of incredible people that need support. I think once you’re part of it – it’s collaborative, it’s supportive, there’s so many resources. It’s been nothing but a pleasure to work in.”
“All the events we’re doing at startup week, the Piivot events, we consider them pilots as well. We’re trying new things all the time. We’re a startup startup,” she said.