City of Sydney touts for apps talent

By Julian Bajkowski

The City of Sydney has moved to shake-off the main street retail blues caused by online buying  by trying to entice a new wave of digital businesses to set-up shop within its boundaries to keep business flourishing in the CBD.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore has announced the city’s official backing for ‘Sydney Start-ups 101’ a cross-industry networking and information event intended to encourage more investors and entrepreneurs to dive into digital commerce to bolster the sector as a means of local job creation.

“The latest Census data suggests the ICT (Information and Communications Technology) industry is the fastest-growing employment sector, increasing by 23 per cent since 2006,” Lord Mayor Moore said.

“Across [the City of Sydney] local government area, there are nearly 25,000 people working in digital businesses, making it the third-largest industry in Sydney. Small start-ups are a creative force helping drive this growth.”

The push to make the City of Sydney a hip destination for ambitious new start-ups represents a direct challenge to established technology parks and hubs in Australia’s largest city including North Sydney and North Ryde which for decades have secured long-term tenancies from local and international information technology companies.

However a combination of Sydney’s notoriously difficult traffic, patchy public transport and more competitive rents have seen more companies gradually return to the Sydney CBD and its fringes including Surry Hills that is now enjoying a resurgence as the city’s most desirable digital postcode.

Founded in 2009 by Pete Cooper, SydStart bills itself as the “largest professional startup conference in Australia” and claims to be “well on the way to being the largest in the region.”

“The goal is to make people realise we are sitting on this amazing ecosystem that’s growing across all industries and to introduce people to some of the start-up world’s personalities and terminology,” Mr Cooper said.

“We’ll also describe some of the new things happening in the start-up world, such as incubators and co-work spaces, which are interesting and unique.”

While the City of Sydney is officially hosting the SydStart event at Customs House on 6th March, the benefits of innovation spread by the event’s attendees is not constrained by geography or jurisdiction.

The blossoming business of ‘apps’ development has proved a breakthrough for many councils and government organisations because they can now build software that connects directly to clients, customers and constituents for everything from reporting the location of potholes to critical emergency alerts and spotting bushfires.

The availability of custom apps has also helped government organisations radically improve and cut the cost of administrative and operational activities like locating and reporting the status of assets and fixtures ranging from fallen trees to illegal dumping.

Those apps and the intellectual property behind them then often go on to be licensed into export markets on the back of local uptake.

“Hopefully people who attend the [SydStart] workshop will walk away feeling proud about how Sydney is competing globally in this industry because we really are punching above our weight,” Mr Cooper said.

“I hope they will be inspired to act on some of their own ideas or to try some of the Australian apps that have already been developed.”

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