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Sydney secures rights to host LAUNCH startup festival in 2018 and 2019

After months of international startup programs and events setting up shop in different states around Australia, NSW has bagged one, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian announcing this weekend that NSW has secured the rights to host the LAUNCH startup festival in Sydney in 2018 and 2019.

Making the announcement on the occasion of US Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Sydney, Berejiklian said hosting the festival is a coup for the city’s growing startup community and a “great opportunity to support innovative industries and jobs in NSW”.

“NSW is the ‘Startup State’ of Australia, and San Francisco is the birthplace of startups,” she said.

With the rights to the festival secured by Business Events Sydney, the Sydney event next year will mark the first time the Launch festival has been held outside the United States.

Founded by Jason Calacanis in 2011, the event has grown to host over 10,000 attendees each year, with around 50 startups launching at each event. Competition alumni include Fitbit, Dropbox, and Yammer.

Dean McEvoy, CEO of local industry group TechSydney said he was pleased to see the state government encouraging expertise from Silicon Valley to come out to Sydney.

“Sydney’s tech ecosystem is booming, it’s the centre of the tech industry in Australia and we welcome the opportunity to showcase the wealth of talent we have on offer to the world,” he said.

The arrival of Launch in Australia follows that of several other big US names.

Accelerator program Techstars announced in January it would be launching a defence-focused program in Adelaide, with cofounder David Cohen saying of the city, “Not only is it ranked by the Economist Intelligence Unit as the fifth most liveable city in the world, it has been recognised by the G20 for its coordinated support for entrepreneurship. It is a tech-forward city that is building sophisticated infrastructure for startups.”

Not to be outdone, the Victorian government’s independent startup body LaunchVic last month announced it would be funding the launch of 500Startups in Melbourne.

The Launch news comes at an interesting time for the NSW government, following the news earlier this month that Google had pulled out of negotiations to be an anchor tenant at its proposed White Bay tech precinct, dubbed ‘Silicon Harbour’.

Google had entered discussions with the government to establish its new HQ at the old White Bay power station, but pulled out saying that a move into the precinct wouldn’t be possible within its required “timeframe”.

A significant issue was lack of adequate public transport to the area, with a new planned metro line expected to be operational in the second half of the 2020s, leaving White Bay without public transport options until that time.

Image: Gladys Berejiklian. Source: Daily Telegraph.





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