The future of direction of the NSW government’s startup and SME-focused industry development body Jobs for NSW remains up in the air five months after the re-election of the Berejiklian government and four months after its independent board was disbanded.
Jobs for NSW was formerly an independent agency reporting through the NSW industry department. It had its own board of directors led by chairman David Thodey and including a roll-call of high profile directors like Telstra and Westpac’s Craig Dunn, Cochlear’s Dr Chris Roberts and Catalyst Education’s Helen Zimmerman.
The agency was then absorbed into the NSW Treasury under highly regarded secretary Mike Pratt, after the significant machinery of government changes that followed the March election, and its role has been under review ever since.
Jobs for NSW chief executive officer Nicole Cook has now left the organisation, and the future focus of its considerable funding is being debated.
Jobs for NSW was the driving force behind the creation of the Sydney Startup Hub, Australia’s largest government-funded co-working space for entrepreneurs.
The organisation runs a variety of grant funding and SME business loan programs in support of small businesses and startups, and had a focus on supporting entrepreneurs in regional areas.
More recently, Jobs for NSW had been the public face of a communications campaign to build support for a Sydney Technology and Innovation Precinct in the Central to Eveleigh corridor.
As part of the restructure of the state government following the election, the portfolio duties of Deputy Premier John Barilaro as Minister for Regional NSW, Industry and Trade were moved into the new Treasury super-department, as was Stuart Ayres portfolio as Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney.
It is understood the review of Jobs for NSW role has focused on how to divided between the different ministers and different portfolios within the Treasury.
A treasury spokesperson told InnovationAus.com the “review remains ongoing. We are working through details currently and will share outcomes once they are finalised.”
The Treasury spokesperson confirmed the departure of Ms Cook, who had joined the organisation in September last year.
“With Jobs for NSW now part of NSW Treasury, Nicole Cook has decided the time is right to look at other leadership opportunities.
“Nicole Cook has played a significant role in her team’s focus on driving the jobs of the future while supporting startups, fast-growing companies and creating networks of support across government, industry and educational institutions.”
Ms Cook described her time at Jobs for NSW as a “privilege” as she wished the new team at NSW Treasury “great success as they continue to advance the future of jobs across the state.”
“The move into NSW Treasury assures that the functions of Jobs for NSW will continue. I look forward to partnering with the government on this important agenda again in the future,” she said.