Adelaide’s SouthStart festival readies a full-steam return

Brandon How

Despite the uncertainty of COVID-19 restrictions, startup festival SouthStart is going ahead with a full set of in-person events this March, under the theme of revival.

SouthStart is a blend of networking experiences, masterclasses, panel discussions, and activities. Hosted in and around the National Wine Centre in South Australia (SA) from March 9-11, the event to attract startup sector leaders, field experts, and investors.

The Creative Discourse panel at SOUTHSTART 2021. Left to right: Anton Andreacchio, Tilda Cobram-Hervey, Matt Vitins, Anna Vincent, and Lewis Mitchell.

This year’s event partners include the Royal Automobile Association, Amazon Web Services, the University of Adelaide, and venture capital fund Blackbird.

There are a total of 74 speakers across 10 different events including Gilmour Space chief executive Adam Gilmour, South Australia’s Chief Scientist Professor Caroline McMillen and software firm Atlassian’s social impact specialist Lauren Black.

Without specific focus on a particular industry, the event is billed as a way to connect those who are early in their careers with investors and startup veterans. Each event is ticketed separately and range in price from $30 -$199. Full details can be found here.

The first day features the all-day Growth Academy masterclass run in partnership with startup and scaleup hub proprietor Stone and Chalk. Attendees will sit through a series of skill-building talks. Running alongside the masterclass is the Bright Ideas Summit which is targeted at school groups and free to livestream for those unable to attend in-person.

Ms Seymour highlighted her excitement for the Founders and Funders Summit on the second day of the festival, hosted in collaboration with Amazon Web Services, as a way to facilitate investment relationships.

“We’re bringing together 200 founders and investors from across the country for a day at Seppeltsfield Wine Estate in the Barossa Valley. We’ll be joined by a lot of familiar faces in the investment sphere to have state of the nation investment conversations and also give way to office hours and really create the opportunities for deal flow and founder investment connections across the day,” Ms Seymour said.

The last day features six events, although it’s only possible to attend three at most. In the morning, guests have the option to attend a breakfast event discussing social capital or scaling for growth. This can then be followed by a state of the startup discussion or the DVLPR Day which brings together several software engineers and chief technology officers.

On the final evening you can attend an Impact Summit, which features discussions about theories of change, or Future Shock, which explores the blend between technology and culture.

Event director Danielle Seymour said that due to COVID-19 restrictions that were in place during the planning of the festival, the event is being run at a venue capacity of 25 per cent.

“Over the Christmas and New Year’s break we had to completely reimagine our program which led to the delay in our ticket launch. So for us it’s about creating a very focused setting for founders, investors and ecosystem supporters to come together and have some important conversations despite current conditions,” Ms Seymour said.

Although the organisers have been able to plan a full schedule, they have had to cancel the Curious Adelaide program. Ms Seymour said that this was planned to be an event for non-local visitors to showcase the SA innovation ecosystem and accompanying lifestyle.

“We’re looking to run the program in Q3, COVID restrictions permitting. We’ve got a strong base with a lot of tech startups that are actively seeking to hire tech talent,” Ms Seymour said.

“We’re working with industry partners to try to seek out some of those talent profiles and bring them to South Australia to not only see the job opportunities that exist, but also the lifestyle components that are critical to making a job decision.”

Also cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions is the SouthStart Scholarship program which was intended to increase the accessibility of the event to youth and under-represented individuals. This would’ve been with industry partners and universities sponsors.

Both these cancelled programs are expected to return for next year’s festival.

Since 2018, the SA government has supported the event as a foundation partner, helping it to expand from a one-day locally focused event to one that can attract international attention. SA Minister for Skills and Innovation David Pisoni said he was looking forward to hearing of “the national and international conversations, collaborations, and investment partnerships formed as a result of this [year’s] conference.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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