Back in 2016, Joe Biden said Australia could become the innovation hub of the southern hemisphere

Joe Biden

US president-elect and former vice president Joe Biden. Source: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik.

Four years ago, Joe Biden foreshadowed Australia becoming the “innovation hub of the southern hemisphere”, giving some clues as to how he, as president, might approach the relationships between the startup ecosystems in Australia and the US.

Then-vice president Biden visited Australia in July 2016 and spoke at a US-Australia Business Roundtable.

As explained in this article from the SmartCompany archives, Biden showed a “genuine interest” in supporting the Australian business community, according to one attendee.


US vice president Joe Biden says Australia can become the innovation hub of the southern hemisphere with a “little bit of help and a little bit of luck”.

Speaking at the US-Australia Business Roundtable in Sydney, Biden discussed how America can help the Australian startup ecosystem grow, the need to embrace failure and the importance of immigration, as the ABC reports.

“We want to see Australia continue to grow and to be a regional hub and a regional leader,” Biden said.

“It is overwhelmingly in our interests for you to become the innovation hub of the southern hemisphere and it’s overwhelmingly in our interests for you to continue to grow in ways that are totally within your wheelhouse, with a little bit of help and a little bit of luck.”

Joe Biden event

BlueChilli co-founder Sebastian Eckersley-Maslin also spoke on the panel, and says Biden showed a real interest in the local startup and innovation sectors.

“He seemed genuinely interested in how America could support Australia in growing our economic future,” Eckersley-Maslin tells StartupSmart.

“The current administration is pushing really hard to build strong ties with their allies, and having Australia as a successful country in this area helps America.

“He showed a genuine interest in supporting Australia.”

Biden said embracing failure is crucial to building a successful ecosystem.

“You’ve got to be willing to risk failure – that’s part of the spirit of all of you guys,” he said.

Joe Biden Sebastian Eckersley-Maslin

Joe Biden with BlueChilli co-founder Sebastian Eckersley-Maslin. Source: supplied.

He also discussed how important migrants were in the development of Silicon Valley.

“We got to cherry-pick the best of every single culture in the world,” Biden said.

“Ride through Silicon Valley, folks — not everybody looks like me and thank god for them. It’s a polygon of the best minds in the world.”

This is a crucial area that Australia needs to improve on through better visas and helping companies establish a presence in the US, Eckersley-Maslin says.

“They have a strong culture of immigration and that’s very similar to us,” he says.

“The best people come to America for the best opportunities, and Australia can do the same.”

For the BlueChilli founder, it was heartening to see a politician of Biden’s stature promoting his country’s startups and exploring at a local ecosystem.

“The key takeaway was that American politicians do an incredibly good job of selling opportunities,” Eckersley-Maslin says.

“We need to embrace how to sell ourselves — as a country, community and as individual startups.”


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