Lord Mayor backs Sydney's entrepreneurs

Sydney's Lord Mayor believes the future is in startups, and is pushing plans to support entrepreneurs in the country's most startup-populous location.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Sydney is a smart city developing a global reputation for supporting innovation, according to Sydney City Lord Mayor, Clover Moore.

Speaking at the SydStart 2015 conference in Sydney, Moore said she recognises the traditional business model has shifted and believes her state's capital is the core of the startup ecosystem in the country.

"As you all know, Sydney is home to Australia's highest concentration of startup companies," Moore said. "But of course it's still early days."

Moore said there's a need to encourage and support the startup ecosystem, and that Sydney has a good track record in startups.

"There is fierce international competition for the jobs and economic benefits that the startup sector is creating," Moore said.

"The next multi-billion dollar company to follow in the footsteps of Twitter, Uber, or Airbnb is already being developed; we must ensure that Sydney is a supportive location for such development so that our most talented companies and the entrepreneurs behind them grow their business in Sydney."

Highlighting the Draft Tech Startups Action Plan released in August, Moore said there is a need to increase access here and overseas to investment, talent, and a support network.

"We recognise that your needs are different to those of a traditional small business," she said.

The draft plan [PDF], which forms part of the City of Sydney's economic development strategy, focuses on the idea of building a strong entrepreneurial culture and community in the city, as well as the need to invest in education to create "skilled entrepreneurs".

"Entrepreneurs and tech startup companies need a local environment that provides support networks, business and entrepreneurship education, infrastructure and financing opportunities," the report says.

Despite the growth of Sydney's outer suburbs, and in fact the rest of Australia, Sydney is recognised as Australia's primary global city and the leading knowledge-based economy in the nation by the report.

"More than AU$100 billion is generated each year within the City of Sydney local area, representing more than 7 percent of Australia's economy and providing more than 437,000 jobs across all skills levels and communities."

In addition to her plan to invest in the startup ecosystem, Moore intends to create a startup advisory panel, as well as a visiting entrepreneurial program to bring international experts to Australia.

Having been Sydney's Lord Mayor since 2004, Moore has long backed the city's startup ecosystem.

Earlier this year, Moore said that while job growth in many of Sydney's inner city suburbs has come primarily from the IT industry, along with the tertiary education and creative sectors, the city still has a long way to go in order to fully utilise its resources.

"Given their potential for high growth and high impact on the city's local economy and employment, this is an important issue for us, and why we're acting to work with partners across government and industry," she said at the time.

Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten introduced a AU$17.8 million startup initiative last month that he hopes will drive a new generation of innovators, risk-takers, and wealth-creators.

Shorten wants 2,000 students to partake in a "Startup Year" while at university to "develop their ideas, get business know-how, and connect with finance".

At the time, Shorten said his party believes Australia can be the startup, technology, and science capital of Asia by "supporting a new generation of innovators here, bringing great expats home and attracting the best minds from around the world".

"It is estimated that we will need another 100,000 IT workers in Australia by 2020," Shorten said. "Labor wants Australians to have the skills and support to create the jobs of the future, not just fill them; the majority of jobs to be created over the next decade and beyond will be in companies that don't exist today."

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