Liberals want to make Adelaide “startup capital of Australia”


Adelaide Flag

news South Australia’s Liberal Party has vowed to make Adelaide “the startup capital of Australia” if it wins the upcoming state election, promising to plough some $500,000 into a startup week and committing to a slew of other initiatives that would help alleviate what the party described as the state’s “devastating brain drain” crisis.

The SA Liberals issued a statement last week noting that if elected, a Liberal Government led by Steven Marshall would establish a $500,000 fund over its first term to establish Adelaide StartUp Week, which it said would expand and grow the SouthStart startup conference into “the premier startup event in Australia”, attracting high level international speakers.

The money would be used, according to the statement to allow the industry to put on a week-long program of startup and entrepreneurial focused events; attract new investors, grow existing talent and foster collaborations; and provide greater support for young entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into viable startup businesses and grow them in SA.

Under the Weatherill Labor Government, according to Marshall, South Australia has had the lowest business startup rate of all mainland states for the past four years. There have also been more than 34,000 net interstate migrants under Weatherill and State Labor since 2002, the Liberal said.

“On Premier Weatherill’s watch, young entrepreneurs are leaving our State because it is simply too expensive and too difficult to build startup businesses in SA,” said Marshall. “On the other hand, the State Liberals are committed to fostering and supporting startup businesses. Startups and small entrepreneurial businesses that specialise in new technologies are important for driving and diversifying economies. We want to support the organisations that support our startup businesses.”

“This sector is a platform for establishing new businesses, fostering collaboration between entrepreneurs, up-skilling existing industries and connecting South Australian businesses to international markets. Today’s announcement is part of our Growth Action Agenda to grow our economy, create jobs and keep more of our young people in South Australia and follows previously announced policies, such as entrepreneurial education in high schools.”

“I want to see people – especially young people – stay here in South Australia, contributing to and participating in our economy. But in order for this to happen, we need to create jobs. We need to give our young people a reason to stay in SA and a big part of that is giving them local career and employment opportunities. A Marshall Liberal Government will have better priorities to put our State back on track.”

The news comes just a week after global technology giant Hewlett Packard announced it would significantly expand its presence in Adelaide, creating about 430 high-end technology jobs over the next four years with the assistance of the University of South Australia and the South Australian Labor State Government.

“This is just one example of how we are transforming and modernising our economy,” SA Labor Premier Jay Weatherill said in a statement released at the time. “We are creating new industries and new jobs in exciting, high-tech fields. HP has chosen to expand in Adelaide because our competitive business cost environment gives our city an advantage over other parts of the country. This is what happens when you invest and build.”

Under the partnership, the State Government also will commit $150,000 a year for a student
entrepreneur initiative that will support innovative students to pursue commercialisation of new
ideas in the ICT sector in partnership with HP and other companies. The State Government will support training to help workers move to the ICT sector– including workers displaced from declining industries who are looking to re-skill. In conjunction with HP, the University of South Australia will also deliver an ICT honours program including work placements with HP to further support workforce development and expansion.

South Australia already has some resources in terms of technology startups particularly. For example, Internode founder Simon Hackett is currently setting up a new facility in Kent Town in Adelaide dubbed ‘Base64’ which is expected to operate as a multi-tenanted facility, operating facilities and support for a limited number of technology related businesses. There is also a Startup Weekend event held in Adelaide, as well as at least one local IT startup incubator in the form of ANZ Bank’s InnovyzSTART program.

If the SA Liberals want to create the “startup capital of Australia”, they will need to commit more than a measly $500k, although it’s not a bad start. I’d wager Simon Hackett is investing more than that in Base64 alone, and that’s just one guy with one facility.


  1. So is this really just a tit-for-tat reaction by the SA Opposition to the SA Government’s work on startups and entrepreneurialism? Can South Australians trust the Liberals’ election promise? Also, what has the SA Labor Government ‘invested and built’ in South Australia – it’s not clear to me?

    One final question… Are all entrepreneurs “young”? That seems to be the implication here by both sides at least…

    • The young stuff is rubbish. There is a range of people that want to create new business operations. However, there are many barriers to unconventional ideas and concepts.

  2. Ah, Adelaide, the site of the Multifunction Polis (1987 and forgotten in 1988). Seems we never learn the lessons of history.

    “An early draft, produced a month after the initial meeting, described the Multifunction Polis as a “cosmopolis to become a forum for international exchange in the region and a model for new industries and new lifestyles looking ahead to the twenty-first century.”

    Maybe the Adults can get it right this time, although with only string and tin cans, the network support may be a little less 21st century and more Alexander Graham Bell.


    • They do collect payroll and land taxes, which would present two ways they can incentivise entrepreneurial activity.

      The biggest problem with Adelaide’s business community is that it’s dominated by crusty old men waving their Saints/PAC old school ties at each other. They’re old money, very conservative and risk averse (no doubt partly due to the State Bank collapse in the 80s).

      So many of my friends back home in Adelaide are stuck in middle management positions, unable to convince the dead wood above them to change and unable to strike out for themselves due to lack access to capital and the old boys network. I fucked off out of Adelaide years ago because it’s such a frustrating place to get things done – the resistance to anyone trying to do things better and faster was incredible.

      It’s a lovely town to live in, however.

  3. Watched the SA election debate last night and was disappointed that the NBN was not mentioned by either side or the audience. Surely the first state to fund some sort of fast network will get the jump on the other states.

  4. Seems odd that a company wanting to start up would base it’s self so far from the east coast. Depends on the business though I guess, and internet business can be based anywhere really…

    • Real estate (commercial and residential) is cheaper in Adelaide, as is general cost of living, which means you can pay people less. There’s a well educated workforce too, and the work ethic of the locals is a bit better than in some of the former convict colonies.

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