Adelaide is becoming an exceptional place to build a startup.
Like most startup ecosystems, Government plays an enabling role by funding R&D, accelerating commercialisation and creating the right conditions for entrepreneurs to thrive.
The 2018 change of Government in South Australia brought with it new ideas about how to best support the community. Startup grant funding was put on hold, governance structures were reviewed and millions of dollars were committed to creating a major Startup Hub as part of Lot Fourteen where the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site is transforming into a global creation and innovation neighbourhood. This will become a much-needed centre of gravity for the startup scene and draw global attention to the Adelaide ecosystem.
These things take time, and lots of people are asking questions about progress, so here's a quick synopsis of the Government entities' and structures as they stand today - particularly how they relate to startups and Lot Fourteen.
Department for Industry and Skills
The Department for Industry and Skills (DIS, previously Department of State Development) supports economic growth through job creation, capability building, development of industries and entrepreneurial culture. It generally works at an institutional level so direct startup support occurs further down stream but under the direction of this department.
Office of the South Australian Chief Entrepreneur
Modeled on the Queensland equivalent, the new Office of the South Australian Chief Entrepreneur (OSACE) has absorbed many of the functions of TechInSA (the previous Government’s startup agency) and appointed an inaugural Chief Entrepreneur (Jim Whalley). Jim, his staff, and an Entrepreneurship Advisory Board (EAB) are now in place and the strategy is taking shape, so we can expect announcements about their priority programs soon. The Premier has first dibs on good news by Government, so the announcements might come from the Premier’s office. Either way, fingers crossed early-stage funding grants come back into play soon. The 2018-19 budget announced a new $28 million Research, Commercialisation and Startup Fund and I am aware that DIS is finalising the guidelines for this new fund so we should see a launch soon.
Future Industries Exchange for Entrepreneurship (FIXE)
FIXE is the community-facing brand at the centre of startup activity in South Australia, conceived by Jim Whalley and the EAB. The FIXE brand was launched by the Premier, Jim and the Duke of York Prince Andrew in November 2018 with the release of the FIXE Strategic Focus document.
The focus document highlights four key strategic pillars for FIXE underpinned by a range of objectives. The four key pillars are:
- INSPIRE entrepreneurship
- EQUIP startups
- ENABLE a healthy ecosystem, and
- CELEBRATE achievements.
On the back of the release of the FIXE Strategic Focus document, the Office of the South Australian Chief Entrepreneur, together with the EAB is in the process of undertaking targeted community stakeholder engagement to inform the development of a FIXE Strategic Plan with identified actions and priorities that will be the focus for Jim and the EAB.
Together with the FIXE Strategic Plan, we can expect FIXE events, FIXE partnerships, FIXE newsletters and FIXE merchandise.
FIXE, in addition to the community-facing brand for entrepreneurship in South Australia, is also a place name. The Innovation, Incubator, Startup and Growth Hub (which doesn’t acronym well - IISGH?) will now be referred to as FIXE @ Lot Fourteen. As you are aware the government is in the process of appointing a key anchor tenant (coworking operator) to manage and run FIXE @ Lot Fourteen which will be complimented with a wide range of events, workshops, programs and networking activities to support and fast track startups and scaleups.
Importantly, FIXE @ Lot Fourteen will also house a regional landing pad to allow regional entrepreneurs access to the hub and the associated events and programs.
So, to be clear, Lot Fourteen refers to the whole precinct (including the Australian Institute for Machine Learning, Australian Space Agency, future Aboriginal Art & Culture Gallery, and more). FIXE refers to the Chief Entrepreneur and EAB’s vision and strategy to drive entrepreneurship and connection to future industries in South Australia and FIXE @ Lot Fourteen is the startup hub.
The FIXE naming convention means the model can also be established in regional areas, eg FIXE @ Whyalla or FIXE @ Limestone Coast, and supports the ambitions of the Chief Entrepreneur to extend the culture of entrepreneurship right across the state.
The final Government agency that is active at Lot Fourteen is Renewal SA. They’re not directly part of the startup stack but they’re responsible for the redevelopment and curation of the innovation neighbourhood.
Renewal SA works closely with OSACE (they’re neighbours in the Eleanor Harrald Building) and are committed to offering flexible lease terms that meet the needs of startups as they mature out of coworking and into their own spaces at Lot Fourteen.
Renewal SA is also creating activations and administering the event spaces at Lot Fourteen for both tenants and the community. The activation program includes Hello Friday’s networking events, Urban Eats pop-up food trucks, and Unwind health and wellness activities as well as embracing arts and cultural events such as immersive art and technology exhibitions and, Google Digital Garage. Keep up to date with what’s happening at Lot Fourteen here.
Below are answers to some questions I get asked regularly about Lot Fourteen.
Question #1: Can my startup move in to Lot Fourteen?
Answer: Your options are either to take a lease directly with Renewal SA or set yourself up in the FIXE @ Lot Fourteen coworking space.
If you have a growing team and require your own space, Colliers is the leasing agent appointed by Renewal SA to manage your enquiry. Pricing is at comparative commercial terms. Send enquiries to James.Young@colliers.com
A few things to know:
- The redevelopment schedule is three years long and not everyone will get in as soon as they might hope. A number of different tenancy spaces are coming on line over the next 18 months with a very high level of interest so it would be beneficial to register interest with Colliers early to avoid disappointment
- Regardless of the timeline, there is enough expressions of interest to more than fill the 23,000 sqm available (the vision for the site is very appealing)
- Businesses in defence, space, cyber security, big data/data analytics, artificial intelligence, and creative technologies will be given preference. These industries have been identified as priorities for Lot Fourteen, so the ambition is to foster community around these industries.
The chosen coworking operator to run and manage FIXE @ Lot Fourteen is expected to be announced in the coming months. I expect it will be a Sydney group with a focus on acceleration and incubation, as well as coworking. You can pre-register your interest here. Pre-registration is a good idea, because once the anchor coworking operator is announced they will be in contact with pre-registered startups for consideration as a tenant.
Question #2: Can I hold an event at Lot Fourteen?
Answer: Yes, Renewal SA manages several event spaces at Lot Fourteen, including:
- Lecture Theatre, Eleanor Harrald Building (150 seats)
- Mural Room, Eleanor Harrald Building (30 seats)
- The Chapel (flexible up to 80)
New flexible event spaces will be coming on line during 2019. To discuss your event needs, email the Lot Fourteen Neighbourhood Host at firstname.lastname@example.org.