Steve Wozniak praises Australian startups as APAC tech companies dominate the Talent Unleashed awards

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has praised the state of tech innovation in Australia as he dished out a number of honours to APAC startups at the Talent Unleashed awards.

The 2016 Talent Unleashed awards saw healthcare-focused tech companies dominate, and four of the five winners come from the APAC region.

The winning companies will receive a trip to Silicon Valley to meet with some of the world’s leading tech firms, and also won a one-on-one entrepreneurial advice session with Wozniak on the night.

Wozniak, who also spoke on the night, served on the judging panel for the awards alongside Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson.

“I decided to judge these awards because innovation is so key in my life – especially young people who are humble and just have an idea, and they have ideas more than they’ve ever had any big wealth or success in their life, and their ideas are really good,” Wozniak said.

“I love to follow good ideas. I’m more interested in interesting people and interesting things than all the big well-made people with power and wealth.

“Entrepreneurs who are told ‘what you’re doing is good, we notice it and we’re even going to give you awards for it’, they think, ‘oh my gosh I want to keep doing good things’. It’s positive feedback.”

Validation and recognition

Virtual healthcare platform CleverTar took out the award for best startup tech innovation, and co-founder Tayna Newhouse says it’s great recognition for the Adelaide-based company.

“It was incredibly exciting to have CleverTar’s name read out,” Newhouse tells StartupSmart.

“It’s great validation for us.”

Clevertar_T Newhouse_Live pitch

Wozniak mentioned CleverTar’s flagship product Anne Cares, a platform that provides virtual assistance, coaching and reminders to patients, during his closing speech on the night.

“I almost want Anna Cares for every little kid – for education as well as for the elderly,” he said.

“Almost every one of these contestants had things that were all for good, for public good, for health and for helping people get things in their life.”

Newhouse says CleverTar’s is aiming to be innovative in every aspect of its operations.

“We’re doing something that’s pretty innovative from a tech perspective and from a market perspective,” she says.

“The healthcare system is traditionally a fee-for-service commercial model and we’re focused on prevention and hospital avoidance.

“We’re breaking new ground in that respect as well and it’s really great to be recognised”

Newhouse and her team will soon be on their way to Silicon Valley as part of the prize, and the timing couldn’t be better, with the startup currently in the process of raising funds.

“It’s about connections for us,” Newhouse says.

“We’re in a fundraising round at the moment and speaking with investors there will be really useful.”

She says the one-on-one session with Wozniak was “inspiring”.

“It’s was a lot of fun hearing him talk about his experience,” Newhouse says.

“He’s a tinkerer and it was great to hear from him that something really small can become something enormous. I got great inspiration from that.”

CleverTar Wozniak

Growing the ecosystem

Talent founder and executive chairman Richard Earl slammed the government’s inaction in the startup space during his speech, saying that it’s up to entrepreneurs to build the ecosystem.

“The Australian startup sector is malnourished, the result of a generation of politicians and the private sector focusing on their personal agendas,” Earl said.

“What we’re missing is a concerted effort by government to bring together the ecosystem into one location. But it’s also up to the private sector to provide support. As individuals competing tonight have demonstrated repeatedly, great ideas are nothing without great people to build and execute them.”

The five winners on the night were chosen from a range of regional winners of the Talent competition following a “rigorous” judging process.

New Zealand startup ODOCS, which develops and distributes affordable smartphone-based technology for eye care, was awarded best social impact startup, while TherapyBox took out the best SME tech innovation.

DBS CIO Neal Cross was judged the most disruptive CIO or CEO and respiratory disease diagnosis tool ResApp was awarded best tech IPO following its $4 million listing on the ASX and a $12.5 million raise in April.

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