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Sydney firm wins contract to run Lot Fourteen start-ups hub

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A Sydney-based not-for-profit will be paid almost $8 million to run the start-ups “ecosystem” at Lot Fourteen – and plans to advise the Marshall Government on its procurement policies.

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Business innovation hub operator Stone & Chalk has been commissioned to help start-ups based at the former Royal Adelaide Hospital site develop and grow.

InDaily understands that eight other companies, including two Adelaide firms, unsuccessfully bid to secure the $7.9 million, three-year contract – and that neither of the Adelaide firms made the three-company shortlist from which Stone & Chalk was eventually selected.

The not-for-profit firm is registered as a charity. It currently operates hubs in Sydney and Melbourne.

Stone & Chalk CEO Alex Scandurra told InDaily the company would help early-stage defence, space, renewables and cyber businesses at Lot Fourteen grow by introducing them to customers, venture capital, experts, corporate partners and networks.

He also said part of its role would be to give the Marshall Government policy advice.

He wants to see the government allocate a small part of its massive procurement budget towards local start-ups, especially to new, high-growth South Australian tech businesses.

Asked what policies his firm would like to see the government to implement, he said “let’s start to think about government procurement more strategically”, with a view to “diverting a small percentage of our public spend” towards local start-ups.

“There will be a whole series of streams in terms of out engagement with government (including) working with government on some of these policies and initiatives,” he said.

A government spokesperson told InDaily that it “looks forward to working with Stone & Chalk to further develop the promising future of South Australia’s start up eco-system”.

“They are a fantastic firm which has done great work interstate.”

Scandurra said his firm hopes to launch the FIXE – Future Industries Exchange for Entrepreneurship – hub at Lot Fourteen by October.

Stone & Chalk will help develop around 40 to 60 start-ups in the hub, which has capacity for about 650 people.

Scandurra added that South Australia has “huge potential” in the defence, renewable energy, cyber and space industries and that he was very excited to get started.

Premier Steven Marshall described the selection of Stone & Chalk as a “huge coup for our state as we forge ahead with our ambition to build the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and further develop the culture of entrepreneurship in South Australia”.

“The start-up hub at Lot Fourteen will help foster and support innovators and entrepreneurs achieve their goals in high growth industries including cybersecurity, defence, space, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, creative industry technologies and robotics,” he said.

Innovation and Skills minister David Pisoni said the hub would “help create the right culture, improve the capability and mobilise the capital required to make South Australia a global leader in entrepreneurship”.

“This is already happening through initiatives such as the Research, Commercialisation and Startup Fund, the South Australian Government Supporting Innovation in South Australia visa pilot and continued investment in digital infrastructure through GigCity.”

Chief Entrepreneur Jim Whalley told InDaily Stone & Chalk was chosen because it “had the right combination of being able to do the incubator (helping early-stage start-ups) and the accelerator (helping established firms grow)” roles.

He said the start-ups working at the FIXE hub would be encouraged to learn from each other and collaborate, have access to seminars on best business practises, and be introduced to investors as part of the program.

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