Denham Sadler
July 13, 2017

Three cheers and a sigh of relief

Startup Hub

Three cheers and a sigh of relief

Sydney Startup Hub: Well that's a relief ... now we can all get some sleep

For Fishburners CEO Murray Hurps, the NSW government’s big reveal of the Sydney Startup Hub was the culmination of a harrowing three year journey.

As the largest startup hub in Australia, Fishburners currently accommodates nearly 400 desks across three locations. But its Sydney site has been overflowing for years, and even Mr Hurps doesn’t have room to have a desk himself.

The organisation has been searching for a new, bigger location in Sydney for the last three years, and has seen many potential projects come and go, including one with Atlassian.

But now Fishburners has found a new home.

Fishburners will be one of four anchor tenants in the state government’s $35 million Sydney Startup Hub, which was officially unveiled on Thursday.

The hub will be located above the Wynyard train station on York Street and will encompass 17,000 square metres across 11 floors. The space will be receiving $35 million in state government funding from Jobs for NSW across the next five years.

Sydney Startup Hub brings together three of the biggest startup coworking spaces in the country in the one centralised location: Fishburners, Stone & Chalk and Tank Stream Labs, along with new player The Studio.

Fishburners will move its 300-person site in Ultimo to the new hub, and will occupy two levels of the building. It will increase the number of total desks that Fishburners offers in Sydney to 600.

The Sydney Startup Hub will provide up to 2500 entrepreneurs with subsidised workspace, and this is an example of a state government addressing a real issue in the community, Mr Hurps said.

“If you have a large number of scalable companies in a building, you have a scalable real estate problem,” Mr Hurps told InnovationAus.com.

“Three years of trying to solve this without being able to is a clear market failure. This is the most notable example of the government stepping in and recognising the value of these companies and what’s needed to help them get started,” he said.

Fishburners aims to launch its new site by the end of October this year, after first applying through the government’s call for Expressions of Interest in February.

Sydney FinTech-focused coworking hub Stone & Chalk will also entirely relocate its operations to the new hub, in turn increasing its capacity by 250 people.

The FinTech hub’s new site will be able to house up to 600 residents across more than 4000sqm of floor space, a major increase for the organisation that reached capacity more than a year ago.

It’s a major relief for Stone & Chalk CEO Alex Scandurra, with the organisation set to be evicted from its current building by the end of the year for redevelopment.

“This is a monumental milestone for Stone & Chalk, and more broadly for the Australian fintech scene. Affordable space remains the single largest barrier to build sustainable startup ecosystems. Jobs for NSW have done an incredible job of bringing the entire community together, right in the heart of the CBD in an amazing high tech space,” Mr Scandurra said.

Tank Stream Labs is also a key tenant in the new site. In contrast to the other two big players, the organisation is expanding its Sydney operations, rather than relocating current residents.

Tank Stream Labs will be occupying two floors of the new site, while also maintaining its current space on Bridge Street.

“We’re delighted to be expanding into the Sydney Startup Hub and we are looking forward to offering something quite different to the usual co-working space in our new home,” Tank Stream Labs CEO Bradley Delamare said.

The last of the four key tenants announced by the NSW government is The Studio, a new player on the coworking space scene focusing on creativity and new technologies.

Within the startup hub, The Studio will provide incubator, accelerator and mentoring facilities, along with access to new technologies for the entertainment, music and games industries.

With four big startup hubs set to be located within the one giant government-led space, each organisation is making efforts to differentiate itself and its offering to young tech companies.

For Mr Hurps, the differences are clear, and the anchor tenants will be able to proactively work together.

“Fishburners as an organisation is really defined by who’s inside Fishburners. If you want to be around a large number of early stage, scalable companies you come to Fishburners,” he said, “But if you want to be around FinTech and cybersecurity startups you go to Stone & Chalk, and if you’re a more established tech company you go to Tank Stream Labs,” he said.

Out of the three big anchor tenants, Fishburners tailors its offering most towards very early-stage startup companies with a handful of employees, while Stone & Chalk and Tank Stream Labs cater for larger tech organisations.

“A lot of our graduates have ended of there in the past so it’ll be nice to keep them as part of the community,” Mr Hurps said.

The Studio is aiming to set its offering apart by providing access to new technologies and by branching out beyond just being a coworking space, CEO Chantal Abouchar said.

“Our focus on the media, entertainment, music, games and creative industries is a first in Australia and will enable startups across these industries to gain the profile, support and backing that is vital to their early development,” Ms Abouchar said.

The Studio will also be providing “studios” within the Sydney Startup Hub where its members can access new technologies like virtual reality.

The announcement of the Sydney Startup Hub is a huge step forward for the state’s startup ecosystem and will help to solve the biggest issue facing the community, Mr Hurps said.

“The startup ecosystem here is booming, it has never been more vibrant. There’s never been a better time to be starting an Australian startup, and come November in this location there will have never been a better place to do it,” he said.

Coworking companies and startups in generally have long-been plagued with issues in finding affordable real estate to house their rapid expansion, and the new hub is an ideal solution, he said.

“And I’m looking forward to having a desk,” Mr Hurps said.

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