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SA startup group revs into gear

Business

South Australia’s peak startup body has relaunched in a bid to help fledgling ventures take the leap from startup to scale-up.

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Founded as a grassroots group five years ago, Startup Adelaide held an official relaunch on Tuesday night in co-working space Innovation Factory, where it outlined its first formal 12-month strategic plan.

Managing director Matt Anderson said the community group had largely existed in the digital world since about 2016, as a place for startups to promote and advocate for the state’s entrepreneurs.

He said while the non-government body previously hosted weekend events, meet-ups and competitions for young businesses, Startup Adelaide’s nine board members had decided to formalise the group over the past 12 months in a bid to help “grassroots innovators” bridge the gap from early-stage ventures to “senior ecosystem influencers”.

“One of the things that we’ve been learning as a Startup Adelaide community, as we’ve been listening, talking and sharing … is it’s full of people with big, bold and ambitions ideas for their lives, for their communities and for this world,” he said.

“If we can connect all of the dots of that, then Adelaide and South Australia can finally be a global centre for innovation and there’s no reason why not. It’s already beginning to happen.

“The reality is there are some real challenges … the challenges around growth, the challenges around connecting up and the challenges around talent and making sure we have the resources we need to get where we need to go.”

He said Startup Adelaide’s 2021 strategic plan aimed to provide a space for entrepreneurs to find advice, resources and connections for growth, expose early-stage startups to professional and personal development opportunities and shine a light on the diverse range of founders in South Australia.

Anderson said the peak body – which was based at Lot Fourteen – would target the three key areas of connection, growth and talent to resolve market issues for early-stage businesses.

“For us it’s about fostering connection, fostering innovation and fostering growth,” he said.

“Our best role can be to aggregate, to find the gaps and to connect people. Essentially we’re just going to curate the space then look at where we can make the most difference and come in and step there.”

Startup Adelaide’s nine board members developed the strategic plan to address connection by engaging universities, accelerator and incubator programs, and the broader South Australian business sector, with fledgling companies through training events and networking.

Anderson said a shortfall in support for pre-prototype ideas and commercially viable companies would also be examined across the year by personal development opportunities, as well as by working with a range of partners.

He said access to professional services; legal advice and mentoring would strive to help the business community grow.

“We want to bring the successful entrepreneurs and innovators who have experienced all of those exact same road blocks, headaches, heartaches, ups and downs, who have almost lost all of their money and got the deal of a lifetime and had it fall through to talk about how they manage themselves and their businesses and their journey,” Anderson said.

As part of the peak body’s plan to grow the startup community, the group has joined forces with Alexandrina Council to develop an innovation challenge, which is set to open after May.

Anderson said the challenge, which would target local business and community members to solve a yet-to-be-decided problem, would work to grow the regional startup community and be headquartered out of the Alexandrina Business Hub at Goolwa.

“You look at what are the biggest challenges facing that society and community, economy … and the people there who are experiences the goods and bads, identify the biggest challenges stopping them and you have a call out to anyone who has a potential solution to those problems,” he said.

“We’re here to work across the whole startup ecosystem and not one building or one location.”

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