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Why is the City of Sydney local government area the centre of startup activity?

A 2012 study identified 1500 tech startups in Australia.

64% - 960 - are based in Sydney. 

We know that data has been revised to 1200, but we suggest the majority are still based in Sydney.

We also know that SydStart attracted around 2000 participants and that Crunchbase lists around 950 Sydney startups.

The majority we estimate are in the City of Sydney local government area including the CBD, Ultimo and Pyrmont, Redfern, Surry Hills and Darlinghurst.

In our area we have 9 of the 22 Australian accelerators/incubators, over 10 coworking spaces including Australia’s largest dedicated to tech startups, and estimate we have the majority of active Venture Capital firms and angel investors including Artesian, Blackbird, Southern Cross Venture Partners, OneVentures, Elevation Capital, BlueChilli Venture Fund.

We also have major tech companies like Google and Microsoft which have programs to encourage startups.

The universities have strong engineering or computer science and business graduate programs.

We know we can create globally competitive companies from Sydney: Freelancer, BigCommerce, Atlassian, Shoes of Prey, Canva are examples.

The concentration of Australia’s tech startup activity is in the City of Sydney local area.

Why support tech startups?

Encouraging technology entrepreneurs to start and grow global businesses will create more jobs, boost Sydney’s economy, strengthen global connections and make the city a more desirable place to live, work and visit.

StartupAUS estimate the Australian tech startup sector has the potential to contribute $109 billion, or 4 per cent of GDP, to the Australian economy and to generate 540,000 jobs by 2033.

It is imperative that local companies are able to create these economic and employment effects to benefit the Sydney community. Our community needs to be a creator of technology, not just a consumer.

What are the barriers to Sydney’s tech startup ecosystem?

The barriers to the growth of the Sydney tech startup ecosystem include: the low number of entrepreneurs starting high-potential businesses; limited access to investment, talent and a skilled support network; a fragmented ecosystem; and stifling government regulation.

What does success look like?

City of Sydney hopes to enable an open, inclusive, skilled and highly connected tech startup ecosystem that has the capacity to flourish.  This will result in the city having:

  • a strong entrepreneurial culture
  • a plentiful supply of talent, with more skilled entrepreneurs – in particular women – creating high-growth technology businesses
  • a healthy funnel of startups across the development life cycle
  • a vibrant support system, including a highly developed funding ecosystem
  • global recognition as Australia’s centre for innovative, globally successful tech startups. 

What will the City focus on?

This Tech Startups Action Plan sets out five areas where we propose to focus our activities to support the Sydney tech startup ecosystem:

1.  Build a strong entrepreneurial culture and community. Encourage more people to become technology entrepreneurs who start and develop high-growth companies.

2.  Create skilled and connected entrepreneurs. Build a robust ecosystem in which technology entrepreneurs have the capacity and networks to launch local companies that become global companies.

3.  Increase the startup ecosystem density. Ensure startups and the organisations that support them are able to scale, and can be located close to one another so they can connect, share ideas, mentor and partner with others.

4.  Support entrepreneurs’ access to funding. Generate more investors and more investment in tech startups, and connect entrepreneurs with investors and businesses.

5.  Develop technology entrepreneurs’ access to markets. Increase the number of consumers prior to and after the release of an entrepreneur’s product or service.

What will the City do to support tech startups?

The Tech Startups Action Plan (section 13-18) outlines how the City could act to address the market barriers. Some of the City’s proposed projects to support technology entrepreneurs include:

  investigating the need for an entrepreneurship centre, to provide a critical mass of office and event space for entrepreneurs in tech startups and the organisations that support them

  creating an awareness campaign focused on Sydney’s entrepreneurs and the tech startup ecosystem

  creating a Sydney tech startup festival to celebrate and promote the ecosystem

  including digital technology education activities in the City’s programs, such as providing sessions on how to code in our youth and library programs

  hosting ‘Startup 101’ business seminars to inform the Sydney community about the tech startup ecosystem, how to found and grow startups, and enable them to network with others

  using our engagement and communication channels to discuss and debate the impact of innovative technology, and to showcase tech startups

  implementing the City’s Knowledge Exchange Sponsorship program to support education and networking activities coordinated by the entrepreneurial ecosystem

  creating a visiting entrepreneur program to fast-track the business skills of technology entrepreneurs

  collaborating with partners to develop business and entrepreneurshipeducation and mentoring opportunities

  assisting ‘angel’ investor associations or other members of the ecosystem to hold investor recruitment education events

  leveraging our international sister-city relationships to strengthen knowledge and investment exchange.

How was this action plan drafted?

The community had the opportunity to comment on the DRAFT action plan from 18 August – 10 November 2015 when it was on public exhibition.  This feedback was important. We wanted to hear what you thought the barriers were to the growth of Sydney’s tech startup ecosystem and your ideas about what the City of Sydney could do to support it.

The draft action plan provided a starting point for feedback from Sydney’s tech startup ecosystem and following consideration of their comments, a final action plan was adopted by Council in June 2016.

The Tech Startups Action Plan responds to City of Sydney’s Economic Development Strategy which recognises that supporting entrepreneurs as they become employers is an effective way to grow jobs and job diversity in the economy.

It responds to the findings of extensive research and consultation, as well as number of programs and pilot projects.

We compared Sydney’s tech-startup ecosystem with that of other global cities and identified the major trends and issues.

The City worked with a number of partners to implement pilot projects that helped clarify the issues facing technology entrepreneurs; to test what role the City could play in addressing these; and to further develop relationships with individuals and organisations within the ecosystem to ensure this action plan is relevant.

Pilot projects included educational, networking and mentorship projects – for example, City of Sydney Tech Startup 101 Seminar, the 66 Meet-Ups networking group, and Practical Business Learning for Entrepreneurs: UTS@Hub Sydney. 

We also support ongoing initiatives including the CeBIT business technology exhibition and conference, Springboard Enterprises Australia, the REMIX Summit, the Global Coworking Unconference Conference Australia, and the startup Good360, which received a City of Sydney grant.

This action plan has been peer reviewed by startup‑ecosystem consulting firm Spike Innovation to ensure the information is accurate and the proposed actions are relevant and credible.