Big Problems and Big Opportunities: Event Insights and Highlights

If you are looking for a market to target, which are the biggest and best ones? How and where could you leverage WA’s competitive advantages to launch onto the global stage? StartupWA’s recent quarterly event focused on the big problems and big opportunities at our fingertips.

 

You can watch the video below and read on for relevant links and highlights.

 

The evening began with an introduction from Startup WA Chairman, Andrew Outhwaite, followed by a snapshot on the latest news and quarterly capital raises from Techboard's Peter van Bruchem.

They were followed by panel guests:

 

Our panel addressed topics including:

 

  • The size and scale of the opportunities they work on and have exposure to.

  • Examples of emerging big problems that could be big opportunities for local startups.

  • Recommendations for founders and entrepreneurs engaging in this area, including the distinction between problem-solving vs opportunity identification.

  • Suggestions that could make it easier for local startups or spin-outs to get access and traction in this space.

 

Some of the special insights and conversations that really piqued the crowd's interest were:

 

  • Dave Newman's case study of the recent Ministry of Data event.

  • A challenge for Government - 3% targets for procurement from local ventures under 5 years old.
  • Managing risk across portfolios rather than individual projects or procurement activities.

  • The importance of being open and collaborate - whether it was Bill's serendipitous moments, Andreas and ICRAR's willingness to work with startups, or connecting with researchers who have complementary skills.

  • Shifting mindset about engagement on major projects or within departments - from simply solving the immediate procurement problem, to creating opportunities for local startups and innovators in the process.

  • Thinking BIG, staying focused on the vision, and exploring possibilities across industries.


Insightful events on big-picture topics are just one of the activities StartupWA undertakes in service of its mission to create the local conditions, enabling the global success for the ventures of tomorrow.

 

The next StartupWA event is planned for Tuesday 5th December, as part of West Tech Fest. 

To express your interest in contributing as a partner or sponsor or host, please get in touch.

 

If you haven’t already, please subscribe to our email list for occasional updates on events, surveys, advocacy and opportunities. You can also follow us on Twitter for more frequent updates, and even more opportunities to connect with the wider community through spaces, networks and events.

 

Thanks to our event partners who made this possible:

 

Finally, thank you to everyone who came along in person or participated online, it was great to see such an engaged audience and many new faces.

Top 10 Recommendations for Western Australia's State Government

Mission: Create the local conditions, enabling global success, for the ventures of tomorrow.

The infographic below shows our Top Ten Recommendations for WA's State Government to help reduce barriers to investment, target support to make entrepreneurship more accessible and, in doing so, grow and attract the ventures of today and tomorrow

Top Ten Recommendations to State Govt_URL.png

What do you think? Anything you think we have missed or need to shine more light on? 

2017-18 WA State Budget - Summary for Startups and Innovators

Below are a summary of the figures and statements in the 2017-18 WA State Budget, directly relevant to innovation. Reviewing the budget, StartupWA's Top Ten policy recommendations become even more relevant, for at three reasons: 

  1. There are positive indications in some areas (e.g. engaging with local innovators to deliver better outcomes through government procurement, STEM education) that could be taken much further e.g. Innovation as not just a $17 million allocation, but as a core activity, allocation and opportunity across massive Departmental budgets, like Health, 
  2. The statements and budget allocations that seem to reflect questionable assumptions about the role and enablement of innovation in modern economies, and WA's future economic growth e.g. "From 2020-21, household consumption is set to take over as the main contributor [to economic growth] – in line with stronger labour market conditions and population growth."...but are we investing in diverse industries to earn export income?
  3. WA remains a lagging outlier in Australia in appreciating the scale of scope of the opportunities technology startup industry represents (predicted to be $76 billion, 25% of Gross State Product by 2025), and there seems to be little urgency in addressing the competition for talent with other States (e.g. Queensland) and Nations.

StartupWA will be engaging in further commentary, advocacy and advice to government about this budget, future budgets and their policies. We will focus on ensuring their spending and policies are informed by industry engagement and are effective in creating the local conditions, to enable the global success, for the ventures of tomorrow, that contribute to our state's prosperity.

You can access and contribute to our policy development online platform, by getting in touch

NEW initiatives in the 2017-18 Budget

Most points below are drawn from the Budget Snapshot and a review of the individual items within the budget papers. We've highlighted new commitments, rather than focus on existing/recurring commitments. Relevant services that continue similar to previous years include:

  • Funding for ICRAR, Scitech and Pawsey Super Computing Centre
  • Small Business Advice through the Small Business Development Corporation
  • Western Australian Business Migration Program
  • OGCIO to focus on Government Department's ICT policy and procurement

New Industries Fund

$17 million for a New Industries Fund to support new and emerging high tech businesses.

  • [$2.05 million in 2016-17 in “Innovation Grants” p106 of budget papers]

  • $6.7 million in 2017-18

  • $3.5 million in each of 2018-19, 19-20, 20-21

  • $4.5m of that total dedicated for new and emerging regional businesses as part of the New Industries Fund.

There are no details of this 'Fund' and the associated strategy and policy, however StartupWA has been engaging with Ministers, Departments and politicians to ensure there is industry input into the focus and structure of this program as it is developed.

Notably on page 109 there is no forecast private contribution to Innovator of The Year. This could be either just not forecast as income, or an indication that there will be changes to the program. 

STEM education

$2m for the integration of coding into teaching and engagement with the Federal government to introduce coding activities into the WA curriculum.

$900,000 to establish a Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) Advisory Panel to ensure there is a job ready local workforce to capitalise on new jobs.

  • $250k each year 2017-2021

Government says: "The Government has established a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Advisory Panel chaired by the Chief Scientist. The panel, made up of industry experts, researchers and educators, will develop a State STEM Strategy (the Strategy). The Strategy will map Western Australia’s STEM workforce, highlighting strengths and gaps in skills and expertise, and identify STEM growth industries."

"Science and technology are central to diversifying the State's economy and creating the jobs of the future. Encouraging new industries and innovation, reducing barriers to business growth and attracting investment will create more jobs for Western Australians."

Support for Industry to supply to Government through Procurement

$4.2m will be invested to establish an Industry Participation Advisory Service to support small and medium business to compete for Government contracts.

  • $1 million each year 2017-2021

Government says: "The Government spends billions of dollars every year running schools, hospitals, public transport systems, and building critical infrastructure and delivering services across the State. The McGowan Government's Jobs Law will mean local businesses are given every opportunity to compete for this work and are provided appropriate support to do so. “My priority is to ensure that through our new Jobs Law, more local businesses will have the opportunity to bid for this body of work.”

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StartupWA Top Ten Policy Infographic Credit: Ammo Marketing

 

StartupWA Update - August 2017

First up, what a fantastic startup community we have here in WA. This past month we've seen some inspiring successes for local ventures, diverse events and been even more impressed by the commitment and competence of the volunteers and professionals keeping the ecosystem growing.

However, while WA startups and the ecosystem continue to grow, it has been a challenging period for having an impact on government advocacy. Our State government’s commitment to supportive policy, programs and talent attraction and retention seems patchy, and definitely lagging behind other States.


One of StartupWA’s roles is to work with partners across the ecosystem to influence government, and we need to try some different approaches to be more effective. Together we can be stronger and smarter in creating the local conditions that can enable the global success, for the ventures of tomorrow. Below are a few ways you can help - a survey about representation, opportunity to input policy recommendations, and help us find a new coordinator!


What we’ve been up to:

Influencing policy through meetings with government ministers and civil servants to increase understanding of the needs, problems and opportunities for improvement. We’ve met with:

  • Deputy Director General and senior staff at the new Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation adding detail to our Top Ten policy recommendations

  • Minister Alanah McTiernan, Dave Kelly’s senior policy adviser and Diane Evers MLC

  • City of Perth and City of Joondalup who have been strong supporters, Chamber of Commerce of WA and others

 

Facilitating connections between founders, investors and supporters through events:

 

  • Australia Post’s Pitchfest in Bunbury highlighting startup ventures coming from our regions, and representing WA in a nation-wide competition

  • WA Youth Innovation Summit helping to create a supporting environment for young entrepreneurs and innovators in WA

  • Our ‘whole ecosystem’ event, bringing together key ecosystem members and supporters to discuss and workshop the future of the ecosystem

 

Advancing the ecosystem through collaboration with partners:

 

 

How you can help:

 


What’s coming up:

  • Advocacy: This coming month is important for advocacy and State Budget will be announced. The State could better spend existing budgets to grow startups, jobs and the economy. Please add your voice, and pitch in with case studies as requested

  • Events: We’ll meet on 13th September to consider and finalise any changes to representation via membership. Our next event on Thursday 14th September, AGM mid-November, and final 2017 event on Tuesday 5th December at West Tech Fest

  • Engagement: WA startups are really going from strength to strength, with some big announcements this month by ventures, great exposure through awards and some key players in the ecosystem. Follow us on Twitter to see some highlights

 

We’re looking forward to keeping you updated as we move forward and if you have any questions or feedback on the above, please get in touch.


P.S. Don’t forget to complete this short survey

 

StartupWA Coordinator recruitment

StartupWA are hiring!

Read on (read ALL of it) for how to apply.

StartupWA is a dynamic and influential organisation formed to advance the technology startup industry for WA. Our mission is to: Create the local conditions, enabling global success, for the ventures of tomorrow. Our values are: Trusted. Driven. Open. You can read more about StartupWA on our website: www.startupwa.org

Now, the sector and organisation are growing in their significance, scope and impact. This growth has created the need for a coordinator role to ensure we meet the expectations of our members, partners and stakeholders. This is initially offered as a contract role focused on communication, events and engagement. Depending on the success of our approach, the scope of the role may grow.


Suitability
 

This role with StartupWA will suit someone who is:

  • Available 1-2 days a week, with flexibility to host after-hours events,

  • Effective and efficient as an independent worker and project manager,

  • Exceptional communicator, collaborator and comfortable with total transparency,

  • Excited about the learning and development opportunities within the sector,

  • Competent with a cloud-based software and social media platforms,

  • Focused on gettings things done, while mindful of the mission and political context.


Role

There are four focus areas requiring coordination - advocacy, engagement, reporting and events. In each area there will be partners involved, necessitating clear and effective communication in service of effective collaboration and great outcomes.

Download the role description for further details: http://bit.ly/StartupWArole

 

To apply:

Step 1 — Read the role description, and this whole blog post.

Step 2 — Share an image on Twitter that evidences your engagement with the StartupWA community. The tweet must mention @StartupWA, hashtagging #StartupWA and include a link to your LinkedIn profile. The LinkedIn profile should have enough relevant information for a basic assessment against the criteria. We will provide the opportunity for more detailed information in Step 2.

Any candidate doing anything other than completing Step 1 (e.g. emailing a resume) will be ignored.

Rules:

  1. Selection criteria are outlined in the role description,

  2. The image must be recent (3 months) and may include:

    1. Evidence of being at a coworking space, startup networking event or training session,

    2. Screenshot of contributing to a relevant discussion (startups in WA) on a social platform (Twitter, Slack etc),

    3. Something else that evidences real engagement etc.

  3. This must be completed before 8am WST on Monday 21st August. We may assess and shortlist some candidates prior to this deadline.

Step 3 — Instructions for further steps will be provided to those short-listed based on the information provided in Step 2.

Those shortlisted (after additional steps) will be requested to participate in

  • A webconference interview,

  • Completing short, paid tasks that test competencies relevant to the role.

The successful person should be ready to start work in the week of 28th August.

Growing a whole innovation ecosystem: event insights and highlights

Are you a supporter or facilitator of innovation, seeking to grow the systems of support around founders? Or are you an entrepreneur who’s just as passionate about growing the whole sector in addition to your venture? StartupWA’s recent quarterly event focused on growing whole innovation ecosystems.

 

You can watch the video below and read on for relevant links and highlights.

The whole concept of an ‘ecosystem’ can itself be daunting: a complex mix of of public and private players, institutions, programs, spaces, regulations and investors, operating as an interrelated system supporting innovation. While complex as an entity, enabling one to grow in a location or industry sector doesn’t have to be difficult. As attributed to Oscar Wilde: “success is a science: if you have the conditions, you get the results”, and our guest panelists share their insights into what those conditions are.

 

Guests were:

 

Our panel addressed topics including:

  • Government as a key driver, aligning with business and academia to drive the growth of ecosystems, build infrastructure, and enable innovation,

  • Diversity and inclusivity being important in many ways: different skills and roles in the value chain, a mix of industry sectors being supported, diverse roles and stakeholders, and encouraging inclusivity in spaces and programs,

  • Artfully and appropriately matching types and sources of funding with ventures, to maximise the likelihood of long-term success for founders and investors,

  • Culture being foundational and needing active cultivation: collaboration, open relationships between universities and startups, sharing and learning from failures,

  • Disciplined focus on success as a way to temper the hype in the interest of long-term sustainability of the ecosystem

  • Variations on the 80/20 rule as it applies to fundraising and investment.

 

Insightful events on big-picture topics are just one of the activities StartupWA undertakes in service of its mission to create the local conditions, enabling the global success for the ventures of tomorrow.

 

This year, we are working with StartupMuster to gather data on the profiles and roles in the WA innovation and startup ecosystem. We encourage you to participate by completing the survey. The survey is relevant whether you are a founder, adviser, supplier or supporter.  

 

The next StartupWA event is planned for Thursday 14th September, then during West Tech Fest in December, and you can contribute to their success as a partner or sponsor. To express interest in contributing or hosting, please get in touch.

 

If you haven’t already, please subscribe to our email list for occasional updates on events, surveys, advocacy and opportunities. You can also follow us on Twitter for more frequent updates, and even more opportunities to connect with the wider community through spaces, networks and events.

 

Thanks to our event partners who made this possible:

 

 

Finally, thank you to everyone who came along in person or participated online, it was great to see such a large audience.

Changes to roles at StartupWA

It is with regret that we announce that after a short tenure, Sharon Grosser has resigned from her role as CEO of StartupWA, effective 21st April 2017.

While Sharon and the board of StartupWA share a common desire to support and grow the local startup ecosystem, our approaches and focus differ.

While assessing the best way to resource the activities of StartupWA going forward, the volunteer members of the board will continue to pursue its mission and objectives. Specifically, StartupWA will continue to champion the ventures of tomorrow by:

  • Advocating on behalf of startups with stakeholders, including government,

  • Promoting innovation and startups as a driver of growth and diversification for the WA economy,

  • Quantifying and reporting on the WA startup ecosystem,

  • Facilitating connections and communication with amongst the community.

The board appreciates Sharon’s contribution to the community, and wish her well in her future endeavours.

For any queries, please contact StartupWA Chairperson - Andrew Outhwaite via andrew [at] startupwa.org or on 0466 694 702

WA TECH REPORT 2016

Apps, drones and RTOs.

We are delighted to present the final version of our 2015-16 report on the digital and internet technology sector in Western Australia (WA). This report (download here) builds on the 2013 Perth Startup Ecosystem Report and the 2015 Preliminary Report (just focussed on early stage startups), and now includes data on more established technology companies in WA.

The report was produced by Boundlss commissioned by StartupWA, and generously supported by the WA Department of Commerce and the City of Perth. Information was gathered through community workshops, interviews, data scraping and research.

Perth & Western Australia
And if you have never been to Perth or anywhere else in Western Australia, WA is Australia’s largest state occupying the entire western third of Australia. It has a population of 2.589 million across 2.5 million square kilometres  and it’s main industries are energy and resources, exporting 58% of Australia’s energy and minerals.

High-Tech, Startups and Internet Companies
The focus of the report is companies born or bred in Western Australia that are developing digital and internet technologies, particularly those companies developing their own intellectual property in technologies such as computing, software, mobile applications, internet focused companies, electronics and hardware (such as wearables, sensors, drones, robotics and autonomous vehicles). The report looks at both mature companies and those born after 2010 (we call the later ‘startups’).

The Numbers

The report identified over 560 digital and internet technology startups operating throughout Western Australia since 1998, of which 335 are active Startups and 116 are active Established Technology companies. The report found approximately 8,400 people who are working in and building technology companies throughout the state, and we identified a total of $651M in funding. Compared to our initial report on 2013 on 'startup' alone, the startup numbers are substantially larger than the 100+ startups we identified in our 2013 report. There are several reasons for this, namely increased awareness & interest in the space, increasing opportunities in the space (such as accelerators and programs), leading to increased formation rates (with 103 companies alone formed in 2014). 

Market Focus

Across these companies, a wide range of market focus was evident, with particular clusters emerging in eCommerce, Fin-tech, Health-tech, Resource-tech, Education-tech, GIS and more unexpectedly in areas such as Gaming and Human Resources. Product and technology types were diverse, ranging from mobile applications and machine learning to 3D printing.

Technologies did however seem inclined to less complex technologies rather than more complex emerging technologies such as drones, advanced robotics and machine learning. This is probably due to a combination of factors:

  1. the relatively small number of computer science graduates and electronic engineers completing university courses in Western Australia (355 in 2014),
  2. the scarcity of available capital to fund more resource intensive technology development such as drones, robots and AI, and
  3. the previous abundance of very well paid engineering jobs within the WA resources sector. 

Funding

The report identifies over $651.3 million in total funding over the past 18 year period to 134 companies, 33 of which raised funding by listing on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX). The average fund pool allocated each year for startups was $16.96 million, and average per startup was $1.32 million. However the median funding per startup was $183,500. A very low number. The average is much higher due to a small number of startups (such as Spookfish, 1-Page, Tagroom, Virtual Gaming Worlds and Brainchip) which all raised between $9 to $15 million each. The average fund pool allocated each year for established tech companies was $73.71 million, and average per established company was $9.64 million. Median funding per was $3.93M. Total funding across WA results in an average per capita funding ratio of $6.61 (for startups) and $8.73 (for established tech), reasonable levels compared nationally, however still substantially lower than international ratios which go up to $183 in Israel and $4,341 in Silicon Valley.

Australian Stock Exchange (ASX)

A higher than expected number of WA technology companies are turning to the ASX to raise early stage funding, listing many years earlier than their international competitors would usually do. Given WA’s venture space is virtually non-existent startups and the lower barriers to listing or RTOs than the NASDAQ etc, local startups are turning to the ASX as an alternative avenue to raise money at a much earlier stage than what you would normally assume. We identified a range of local tech companies on the ASX, raising near $200 million in total from the ASX. These companies include: 1-PageNorwoodSystemsResappHealthSpookfishBrainchipActivisticRewardleMyFiziqXTV Networks and iCollege.

Meetups, Groups, Accelerators & Universities

The report found that across Western Australia there was a substantive number of meetups, hackathons and community driven educational activity in the ecosystem. Over 12 co-working spaces have arisen in the past 6 years in the Perth CBD, Leederville, Joondalup, Fremantle, Geraldton in the Mid West, and as far south as Pollenators in Bunbury. There are also a number of maker and hacker spaces. Co-working spaces include: Bloom, F-Sapce, Spacecubed, Minespace, sixty27, Sync labs. And maker/hacker spaces include the Artifactory, SW Makers and the Vic Park MiniLab by Enkel. These places serve as a vibrant catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship and are increasingly moving up the innovation value chain from offering sharing office space to formal startup accelerators providing seed capital for early stage commercialisation. Spacecubed in Perth’s CBD now hosts 5 accelerators and seed accelerators (Amcom Upstart, RAC Seed Spark, Unearthed and Founder Institute) along with multiple hackathons throughout the year.

Conclusion

The technology industry in Western Australia is still in it’s early days with a few breakout successes that have managed to overcome the regions challenges. Nevertheless, WA has a promising level of engagement in the industry and given a substantive effort by all participants in the region  — entrepreneurs, investors, educators and government — the state can certainly take advantage of its pioneering roots to ride the next great economic revolution.

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DOWNLOAD A COPY OF THE REPORT HERE