Predictions on what the future holds for the Sydney tech ecosystem.

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Prediction

  • Do we have the right representation?

Following on from my previous article on the lack of awareness overseas of the Sydney tech scene;

A hot topic right now is diversity in tech and the proven benefits of diverse teams. Different ways of thinking provoke better outcomes especially when building products for a diverse customer base.

So, do we have a diverse Government?

The Government are focused on growing the economy, led historically by the finance and mining sectors that have served us so well in the past however with renewable energy and fintech disruption there is a need to empower the future economy drivers (Atlassian, Canva, Appen, SiteMinder, Finder, VAMP, WiseTech Global, Ansarada, Safety Culture, Deputy, Cover Genius, Freelancer, Airtasker to name a few) BUT how when they have no voice and the tech industry isn’t at the forefront of the Governments’ plans? How long until we’re banking with an overseas company? At some point blockchain will be having a major impact too. Whilst Mike Cannon-Brookes leads the charge in trying to educate the Government he appears to be the only voice with any influence.

I met with a leading Australian VC recently and all bar one of their portfolio of companies were hiring, I’ve also met with a multitude of successful tech companies with aggressive growth plans, so where are these people going to come from?

Do you think the likes of Amazon, Facebook and Apple became who they are today by only hiring US citizens? There is an estimated 30-50% of migrants in the big tech hubs of Silicon Valley, New York and London. Look at the job creation by those tech giants, the revenue they bring in from overseas and how much tax did they contribute to the Australian economy last year?

Predictions on what the future holds if we don’t react.

  • The Global Talent Scheme gets reviewed bi-annually but due to its lack of uptake (6 processed so far, 6!) critical positions like product designers, marketers and managers will remain on the 2 year visa list. This will discourage people from relocating and companies hiring from overseas.

Don’t give me problems, give me solutions!

The Future — let’s think sustainable

  • Open the doors of Australian tech companies to young kids giving them a window into a career in tech from an early age as opposed to waiting until it is too late.

Shall I be a Doctor, Accountant, Policeman or a Cloud Solutions Engineer?
  • Invest more time and resources into attracting females into tech as well as retaining them in the industry by providing return to work options post maternity leave, female friendly environments, flexible working hours for dropping and picking up children (the last point applies to men too!!)

Build awareness. Build a brand.

  • Give the Sydney tech scene an identity, create a window into the lifestyle Sydney has to offer and the innovative companies where local and overseas talent can visualise themselves.

Support and enable.

  • Re-establishing the R&D grant but police it better, as opposed to companies with billion dollar profits looking for loopholes to exploit. Let’s make sure the money is finding its way to those who need it.

Be humble.

  • Embrace overseas success and invite them to our shores. If a country with little mining experience discovered valuable resources, would it not be wise of them to seek the rich history and experience of Australian miners to extract it?

Be proud.

  • Amplify our success, tall poppy syndrome is a problem, being proud of our achievements and telling the world should be a growing mentality we all support.

This isn’t a doomsday prediction, I believe Australia is at a pivotal point in deciding its future. Having grown up in the UK and then spending the last decade in Australia I am proud to be a citizen of both countries. I feel Australia can not only learn from the mistakes that Britain has made but from what they have achieved in building a tech hub that has attracted investment, businesses (Corporation tax 19% dropping to 17% in 2020), talent and harnessed innovation which will stand it in good stead regardless of the Brexit outcome.

Australia is leading the world in many ways from banking and payments to healthtech, the platform is there for Australia to shine on the global stage if we make the right choices now. Successful companies of the past with wide moats got disrupted (Kodak/Blockbuster/Nokia), countries are no different. Whilst we are an island in a remote part of the world don’t think for a second we’re safe clinging to our banking and finite mining resources to guide the future of the country, disruption is happening right now and actions must be taken!

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