NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says her government’s $35 million investment in a Sydney Startup Hub in the central business district is the first of several such hubs that will be built across Greater Sydney and regional NSW.
Ms Berejiklian also recommitted her government to building an IT startup hub into the White Bay redevelopment – despite Google pulling out of the project earlier this year – while her deputy John Barilaro outlined plans for a soon-to-be-announced NSW government equity investment fund targeting tech startups.
The premier said the 11 floor, 17,000 square metre hub would house more than 2,500 founders and entrepreneurs and hundreds of startup businesses, as well as a host of other ecosystem supports like VC companies.
The anchor tenants for the Sydney Startup Hub are the incubator-workspaces Stone & Chalk, Fishburners, Tank Stream Labs, and the recently announced creative tech startup space The Studio.
Ms Berejikian said the size and density of the Sydney Startup Hub was unmatched in Australia and the southern hemisphere. The government’s commitment to scale should be a message to founder and investors globally, that Sydney is open for business and serious about the sector.
The $35m investment covers the five-year lease for the art deco Railway House building at Wynyard Green, with an option for a further five years. The Sydney Startup Hub represented the only scale hub in the country and was on “prime CBD real estate in Australia’s only global city.”
“This gives certainty for at least the next five years, and that will give us a chance to see what works and whether there are expansion opportunities into other areas,” Ms Berejiklian said. “This is really NSW demonstrating to the rest of the world that we’re serious about supporting our startup community and that we are a great place to invest.”
“We want to make sure that we’re not just creating jobs through the massive construction agenda that we have, we also want to create jobs through technology and through [the creation of] intellectual property.”
“The $35 million will translate to thousands and thousands of new jobs … and who knows what brands [from here] will become household names of the future.”
The premier said while it is called the ‘Sydney’ startup hub, that it should be considered a state-wide initiative. The hub would include a Landing Pad operation for regional businesses to pitch their ideas in the city – and would also welcome international entrepreneurs bringing ideas and expertise into the ecosystem.
“It is encouraging to know that it doesn’t matter where you come from or what’s your background, you will have to the opportunity to come and set up shop here,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“But we would like to see similar hubs of this scale in other parts of Greater Sydney and New South Wales,” she said.
“More than 40 per cent of the nation’s startups are in NSW already and with the addition of this hub and the White Bay precinct, we want to see that figure grow,” Ms Berijiklian said.
The deputy premier John Barilaro said government was readying an announcement of a new fund that would enable government to make equity investments in innovative new companies. This would be third plank in a support platform that has included startup and SME grants, loans and loan guarantees, and now equity investments.
“The other piece that we’re working on that will be a future announcement will be an equity stakeholding, a partnership with some of those new business ideas that are exciting and going global,” he said.
Mr Barilaro, who is also the Minister for Regional NSW, said the Regional Landing Pad would help to connect the entire NSW startup community, regardless of location.
“Supporting regional startups is a priority for the NSW Government, with entrepreneurs essential to the growth of regional communities,” he said, adding that a minimum of $57 million of Jobs for NSW funding had been set aside to help startups and SMEs in regional areas.
If anyone is looking for metaphors on which to hang their revolutionary new startup ideas, the green at Wynyard was the site of an old military barracks and the starting point of the Rum Rebellion in the earliest days of the colony. (Ok that’s a stretch – ed)