Not just a city of churches
Tuesday, November 22, 2011/
Population: 1.2 million
Start-up survival rate: 75.7% (2007 to 2009)
Adelaide’s reputation as a rather slow-paced city notable only for its churches is increasingly at odds with a start-up scene that is beginning to gather pace.
Known for its impressive standing in the worlds of education and biotech, the South Australian capital is becoming an unlikely hub for a number of promising web-based ventures.
Last month, an Adelaide firm, SME Growth Capital, was chosen by the TechStars Network to take on the model of the prestigious US-based start-up incubator.
The arrival of the TechStars model in Australia was greeted warmly by the start-up community, but it is also notable that the location of such ventures is no longer an issue for Adelaide.
The hub, which will provide $18,000 in funding to 10 start-ups next year, will join a small but talented group of new businesses that call Adelaide home.
Adelaide’s higher education establishments have provided some of the impetus, boosting app developer MyTime, which won the University of Adelaide’s $10,000 ZEN eChallenge.
Rival Flinders University has got in the act too, providing the IP for ThereItIs, a new tech business with seemingly global potential that offers an innovative new way of displaying information for retail websites and content management systems.
Then there is South Australian entrepreneur Melanie Seears, who won the Newmont Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, as well as the Innovation Award at the South Australian Young Entrepreneur Scheme’s annual prize-giving ceremony last week.
Seears’ start-up, On the Gro, creates and sells baby-focused products. It is set for expansion to New Zealand and the UK.
Another Adelaide entrepreneur making international waves is Gerard Ramsay-Matthews who, while bed-ridden with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, invented a new hand-eye co-ordination aid, Speed Striker. The product has since been stocked in US supermarket giant Wal-Mart.
Scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find plenty of start-up help too, such as the Tomorrow Start and Tomorrow IP programs for the creative industries, Innovation SA’s investment attraction course and MEGA, an entrepreneurship “master class” for digital start-ups.
While it lacks the presence of a premier incubator, at least until the TechStars model arrives, Adelaide does at least have the ThIncLab, a University of Adelaide hub and the BioSA Incubator, aimed at the biotech industry.