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Briefcase: Business snippets from around South Australia

Business

In this week’s briefcase, SA-based national commercial cleaner Academy Services rebrands, a regional paper mill celebrates a big year and Adelaide reels in the World Fisheries Congress.

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Google lands at Lot Fourteen

Google Cloud will set up a hub at Adelaide’s Lot Fourteen, with the tech giant’s new facility set to focus on health services, medical research and innovation.

Foreshadowed by InDaily on Friday, the move will see the tech giant house an Adelaide-based public sector team alongside a training and event venue to help customers and partners work with Google technology.

The State Government said it has been “working closely” with Google Cloud to exhibit South Australia’s hi-tech health ecosystem, including the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, the MIT bigdata Living Lab and the Australian Institute for Machine Learning.

Michael Grantham, Director for Public Sector for Google Cloud in Australia and New Zealand, said his company is looking forward to working with tech partners and other businesses in Adelaide.

“South Australia’s health capabilities are closely aligned with Google Cloud’s strategic priorities, and the state’s commitment to the technology sector from Premier (Steven) Marshall and the Department for Trade and Investment provides a unique environment for innovation and collaboration in the Technology Hub established at Lot Fourteen,” Grantham said.

Google’s decision to set up shop in Adelaide comes after the State Government failed to lure the company to South Australia in 2018 despite a campaign backed by several prominent figures in the business community.

Lot Fourteen will serve as Google’s third Australian office, with the company also based in the Sydney and Melbourne.

Local facility management firm rebrands following merger

Commercial cleaning firm Academy Services has merged with electrical compliance company eSafe and facilities property management business Universal FM to launch facility management company ServiceFM.

ServiceFM aims to create a “faculty management community with new expectations following COVID-19”.

“Internal reporting and business systems have been upgraded, organisation capacity improved and a new brand developed,” it said.

ServiceFM CEO James Pollock said the merger would help consolidate service providers and offer greater transparency.

“We have listened to the market, reset our business group as a whole, improved our systems and processes and have identified and clearly defined our growth strategy to take us to the next level and beyond,” he said.

“Even before COVID, the market we were working in had been changing. Our clients were seeking fewer suppliers and asking for more services, along with improved data to ensure value-for-money service.

“With our many years of experience in soft and hard services we decided upon a strategic move to consolidate as one brand, one service company, ServiceFM.”

SA real estate body employs machine learning to crunch numbers

The Real Estate Institute of South Australia has begun collaborating with the University of Adelaide and the Australian Institute for Machine Learning on a data project aimed to inform future housing policy in the state.

CEO Barry Money said the institute was drawing from its 100 years of real estate data to determine the housing behaviours of different demographics in South Australia, which the institute would use to lobby government on behalf of its members.

He said data would be extracted, de-identified, cleansed and turned into an easy-to-read format to determine various theories, which would be publicly available in the future.

“We’re visualising it in such a way that we can pose hypothesis, for example: does a tenant with a certain attribute stay longer in a particular rental home than others with other attributes?” Money asked.

“We’ll test our hypothesis and learn and that will help inform policy.”

Money made the announcement as part of the institute’s relaunch last week at Stone and Chalk in Lot Fourteen.

The event follows structural changes to the professional body 12 months ago, turning it into an established company.

As part of the new structure, REISA no longer appoints a president but is led by CEO Barry Money and a board chaired by property professional Fairlie Delbridge.

Adelaide reels in World Fisheries Congress

South Australia is set to host the 8th World Fisheries Congress later this year, after the October event was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

Scheduled for September 20-24, the congress is intended to bring together commercial fishing experts from across the globe and promote international cooperation in fisheries science, conservation and sustainability.

It will feature presentations, workshops, networking events and industry exhibitions.

CEO of the Adelaide Convention Bureau Damien Kitto said while the number of attendees may be limited compared with previous years, due to ongoing global coronavirus restrictions, delegates would be able to participate in person or online through a “hybrid program”.

“Whilst the number of delegates who attend Adelaide may reduce, the global reach and awareness of how South Australia practices its fishing techniques will be significantly increased via the hybrid platform of knowledge sharing,” he said.

“Using hybrid events is the essential stepping stone to returning to the totally face-to-face business events we know delegates are craving.”

SA Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development David Basham said the event was expected to inject $2.7 million to the local economy.

Early bird registrations for the 2021 World Fisheries Congress are now open.

Anniversary for paper mill following high demand year

Regional South Australian paper mill Kimberly-Clark – the local manufacturer behind household brands Kleenex and Viva – has celebrated its 60th anniversary in a win for the state’s manufacturing industry.

Mill manager Adam Carpenter said the milestone represented a “significant anniversary for any Australian business” and that the company had marked the occasion by launching two eco products: the Kleenex Eco toilet paper and paper towel.

He said the move towards creating sustainable products reflected the company’s ability to adapt, which had allowed it to continue to operate over the years.

It comes off the back of a busy year for the mill, with its products in high demand last March when Australia introduced the first wave of coronavirus restrictions and grocery shop shelves were cleaned bare of toilet rolls.

Carpenter said while the mill last year produced about 500,000 toilet rolls, which was only slightly higher than the previous calendar year, it had continued to operate during the pandemic.

He said demand for toilet paper had dropped off since the initial rush last year.

“We still see those smaller pikes, but now it’s within what we could consider normal volatility in the market. The panic-buying that occurred in March 2020 we’ve not seen again,” he said.

Construction begins on Elizabeth hotel

Construction has begun on a $70 million hotel by Wyndham Hotels & Resorts in Adelaide’s north.

Wyndham Hotels and Resorts said the 205-room development – called Ramada – would include a swimming pool, gym, restaurant and sports bar, as well as conference and events spaces.

Construction on the Elizabeth development, which has been designed by Carlo Pennino of MPH Architects with Mossop Builders behind the construction, is expected to be complete by October 2022.

Playford Mayor Glenn Docherty welcomed the additional accommodation.

“The hotel is a much-anticipated addition to our Civic Precinct, neighbouring the iconic Shedley Theatre, our premier parklands Fremont Park and retail experience from Vicinity Centres,” he said.

It provides greater options for high quality accommodation in Northern Adelaide and brings with it much needed jobs and investment in our city.”

The $6 million reason to stay with Santos

Santos this week announced CEO Kevin Gallagher would receive $6 million as a “once-off growth projects incentive” to remain head of the company’s “major growth projects and energy transition strategy to 2025”.

Subject to shareholder approval, Gallagher will receive the additional funding to lead its $4.7 billion Barossa project north-west of Darwin, as well as its Dorado oil project and Moomba carbon capture and storage.

It follows a report in The Australian earlier this month that Gallagher was being considered as the next chief executive for West Australian gas producer Woodside Petroleum.

Gallagher this week told shareholders he would continue with Santos.

“We have made significant progress on our transformation journey, but the job is not yet done,” he said.

“I am delighted to commit to continuing to drive the delivery of our growth strategy, the transition to a leading clean fuels business and to achieve our net-zero emissions target.”

In a statement to the ASX, Santos Chairman Keith Spence said since Gallagher had joined the oil and gas producer Santos had more than doubled its share price.

He said Gallagher would also be “critical” in “driving the energy transition over the next five years”.

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