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Topaz Conway joins StartupAUS board as Teresa Engelhard is appointed chair

Ahead of the release of its 2016 Crossroads report later this week, advocacy body StartupAUS has announced the appointment of Topaz Conway to its board and existing board director Teresa Engelhard as chairman.

Chair of women-focused accelerator program Springboard Enterprises and advisor for the federal government’s Accelerating Commercialisation initiative, Conway said she is “delighted” to join the group, which is “creating real change to benefit the sector and the broader Australian economy”.

She said, “I strongly believe that the goals we share are critical but also achievable.”

A year on from the launch of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, the organisation’s focus is on continuing to push the shift in Australia’s mentality around startups, and establishing tech as the key engine for the growth of Australia’s economy as we leave the mining boom behind.

Alex McCauley, CEO and executive director of StartupAUS, said Conway’s commitment to the growth of early stage startups and her leadership to increase diversity in the Australian tech landscape brings great value to the board.

“Topaz is a passionate entrepreneur who is deeply committed to helping other Australian entrepreneurs succeed and to building a diverse startup ecosystem in Australia. We look forward to benefitting from the perspective Topaz will bring to the expert team within the StartupAUS board,” he said.

The appointment of Topaz follows that of Engelhard to the board in March this year.

As well as serving as a venture partner at Jolimont Capital and non-executive director of RedBubble and Daintree Networks, Engelhard also has some experience with policy, having served on the Entrepreneurs’ Programme Committee, a sub-committee of the Australian Government’s Innovation Australia Board.

As an advocacy body, the experience with government and policy is key, with the government having looked to StartupAUS and the Crossroads report to shape various innovation-focused policies over the last two years.

However, the organisation faced some criticism earlier this year after the Government launched a partnership with StartupAUS and awarded it $360,000 in funding to have it produce research on topics covering entrepreneurship and innovation over the next three years.

The first piece of research was released in October, a report outlining how Australia’s agricultural sector, supported by agtech, can develop into a $100 billion industry by 2030.

The report, ‘Powering Growth: realising the potential of agtech for Australia,’ looks to uncover where the opportunities lie in agtech and how Australian farmers can use technology to improve productivity, management and sustainability.

StartupAUS’s cornerstone Crossroads report will be released on Thursday.

Image: Topaz Conway. Source: Supplied.

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