Invest Wollongong, a partnership between the NSW Government, Wollongong City Council and the University of Wollongong (UOW), has launched with a clear mission: to make Wollongong known nationally as a superior location for start-ups and scale-ups.
Invest Wollongong is focused on implementing practical programs that tangibly support start-ups and scale-ups considering the thriving region as a place to call home; where business innovation is a priority, the talent pool is plentiful, and a work-life balance is normal.
Invest Wollongong’s latest figures suggest the outlook for the city is extremely positive. Wollongong’s CBD is currently home to over 26,000 jobs, with a 20 per cent jobs increase since 2011. It has seen $1.5 billion in infrastructure investment since 2012, and boasts over 40,000 square metres of new commercial space in progress.
Mark Grimson, spokesperson for Invest Wollongong, says, “We’re proud to have access to a highly-skilled workforce and a continual supply of graduates from UOW, amazing infrastructure and an impressively supportive business environment. We also have diverse co-working options available throughout in our city including iAccelerate, the UOW’s business incubator and accelerator, which provides programs for start-ups and scale-ups.”
Location is critical for many start-ups and scale-ups, and Wollongong’s location is no hindrance to doing business nationally, or internationally. The region is only one hour south of Australia’s biggest city, Sydney, and its international airport, and there are direct flights to Brisbane and Melbourne locally.
Wollongong-based scale-up Easy Agile provides agile software development services and is further proof the city is a smart choice to start and scale a business successfully. With 13 staff and a client base including Twitter and Dell, the business has doubled in size in 2019.
Co-founders Nick Muldoon and Dave Elkan were both keen to raise their families in Australia after building impressive careers in Silicon Valley, so they moved back from San Francisco to Wollongong where they saw potential in starting a tech company from scratch.
Muldoon says, “Wollongong is a great place to live, which makes it a great place to start a company. The majority of our team have a 15 minute or less commute, meaning they have more time with their families. This results in superior service to our customers as the team is well rested and ready to throw
Ken Kencevski, Founder of Devika, is another Wollongong-based Australian tech start-up kicking goals from a regional base. Devika now has 14 full-time employees and announced this month it is an official partner and approved software vendor (ISV) for Virtual Reality content creator, HP Australia.
“Starting a business in Wollongong has huge operational advantages”, Kencevski says. “Operational costs, for one, are much lower than major cities and not having as many local sales opportunities on our doorstep means we’re forced to think global. We’re a prime example to demonstrate it’s entirely possible to build a successful company outside of capital cities, and to love where we live at the same time.”
Another critical factor for start-ups and scale-ups is gaining access to and attracting quality talent – a common misconception about launching a start-up or scale-up in a regional area. Wollongong-based engineering start-up and Australia’s premier provider of 3D printing for education, Me3D, attributes its national success and reason for staying in Wollongong to the local labour force.
Co-founder Leanne Connelly says access to talent out of UOW and the broader Wollongong labour force is what has kept her business here.
“Being in Wollongong has truly enabled our business to grow and succeed. UOW is a world-class university, so we’ve been able to attract highly-skilled graduates that appreciate the lower cost of living and coastal lifestyle, so we don’t lose them to Sydney. Organisations like Invest Wollongong help to draw interest and connectedness to our region and our ecosystem.”
Invest Wollongong runs familiarisation tours for scale-ups and entrepreneurs that are designed to enable key business decision makers across Australia and internationally to experience Wollongong for themselves. For start-ups and scale-ups seeking more information about and a move to the region, please visit www.investwollongong.com.au or send an email to the team at [email protected]