Two innovation hubs have been opened today in Tasmania by the state Minister for Information Technology and Innovation Michael Ferguson.
Both hubs -- one in Launceston and the other in Hobart -- will be run by a new not-for-profit organisation called Enterprize, in honour of the tall ship that was built in Hobart and sailed from Launceston to Melbourne by John Pascoe-Fawkner in 1835.
The Tasmanian government invested half a million dollars into Enterprize earlier this year to boost the state's emerging innovation activity.
Similar to innovation hubs and coworking spaces in states with more developed startup ecosystems, students and entrepreneurs in Hobart and Launceston will have access to various resources, mentors, investors, and opportunities such as corporate partnerships.
While Sydney and Melbourne have the most publicised startup successes -- where companies like Atlassian, Campaign Monitor, Canva, Invoice2Go, Envato, and Vinomofo were either born or grew -- there are a number of positive signs for Tasmania's startup ecosystem. In the last 12 months, Tasmanian startup The Yield raised $2.5 million from European tech conglomerate Bosch; Biteable successfully raised $1.1 million; and TasmaNet secured $5.3 million mostly from local Tasmanian investors.
"As a local investor, what's going on in the technology space is particularly interesting at the moment because of the slowing growth in traditional industries," said Rohan Boman, founder of wealth management firm Boman Asset. "Tasmanian investors have invested and are interested to invest in Tasmanian technology companies and innovation hubs have proven to accelerate the investment opportunities for startups within a community."
Alex McCauley, CEO of national non-for-profit startup body StartupAUS, said although Tasmania is separated geographically from the rest of Australia, thanks to technology it can still have a thriving startup ecosystem if nurtured.
"One of the great economic advantages that technology can deliver to Australia is that it removes the tyranny of distance. That is even more important in a Tasmanian context," McCauley said.
"Regional innovation hubs have proven hugely successful around the world, particularly in the US. [Enterprize] is a fantastic initiative that will put Tasmania on the Australian startup map."
While Hobart and Launceston are small compared to cities like Sydney and Melbourne in terms of total number of startups, non-profit organisation Startup Tasmania claims there is a high concentration of startups in Tasmania.
"While Tasmania may be small, its startup ecosystem is vibrant, densely interconnected, well-supported, and growing rapidly, which all suggests that it's going to be a regional startup ecosystem to watch over the next few years," according to the announcement made today.
With the help of Richard Celm, co-founder of Startupbootcamp Melbourne, Enterprize has secured the support of international companies such as Amazon Web Services and Google, who will be providing Tasmanian startups with access to a suite of free products, services, and training along with access to their international community.
"Small startup communities with a greater concentration of activity can produce better-than-expected results when the right structures are in place. It's been great to be able to bring lessons learnt from the best programs in Europe back to Australia, and have them so quickly adopted like here today in Tasmania. I predict great things for the community down here," Celm said.
Telstra-backed accelerator muru-D and Sydney-based incubator Pollenizer have run events to upskill local startups and train local potential mentors to further develop the Tasmanian startup ecosystem.