START UPS FLOURISH IN PARRAMATTA
Across incubators and co-working spaces in Parramatta, startups are flourishing in areas of advanced technology, engineering and more, as they quietly make their mark on a world stage.
Building on the success of startups, Universities are investing heavily in entrepreneurship and commercialisation activities. Over $85 million has poured into new, university-affiliated startup programs and new buildings across Australia in the last five years. And this is exactly what’s occurring in Parramatta.
Launch Pad in Parramatta playing a pivotal role
In 2015, Western Sydney University pioneered Launch Pad, an incubator for startups and SMEs with Parramatta as one of its two locations.
Launch Pad has a team of business experts and mentors on hand, giving entrepreneurs easy access to advice and expertise to grow their business. It is a one-stop-shop for business and innovation support programs and provides facilities, assistance and resources for startup and existing high growth technology-based businesses, conveniently located in the Parramatta CBD.
Two years ago, Launch Pad started a tailored accelerator program known as Startup SydWest, specifically to help businesses in Western Sydney. It is a competitive program with an annual cohort, funded initially under the Australian Government’s Incubator Support Initiative in 2018.
More innovation hubs to come for Parramatta
Startup businesses in Parramatta will also benefit from the Westmead Innovation Hub. To be known as Innovation Quarter or iQ, it will house some of the Western Sydney University’s leading research institutes and some of Australia’s national science agency CSIRO’s programs.
Western Sydney University will base its MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development, NICM Health Research Institute and Translational Health Research Institute (THRI) at the complex when it opens in 2021. CSIRO will bring world-leading research staff from its e-Health and Nutrition & Health programs.
Also under construction in Parramatta’s CBD is a new $280 million Engineering Innovation Hub for engineering and architecture students from Western Sydney University and the University of NSW, opening in 2022. The hub will share space in its new 19-storey building with companies and businesses looking to take advantage of Parramatta’s growth, and will also offer an expanded location for Launch Pad.
Both the Westmead Innovation Quarter and the Engineering Innovation Hub are part of Western Sydney University’s ‘Western Growth’ strategy – an ambitious program of works that are reshaping the University’s campus network, including establishing new vertical campuses within the growth centres of its region.
The NSW Government has also recently announced that it will replicate its successful startup hub in the Sydney CBD with a new hub in the Parramatta North Heritage Core, within proximity of Westmead’s burgeoning bio-medical precinct, and a proposed campus of The University of Sydney.
Creating opportunities for collaboration
To provide Parramatta’s startup businesses with a much-needed place to work is Grounded Space, with two locations in Parramatta’s CBD. Co-working spaces are attractive because people can share resources like office space and equipment, but also ideas.
Co-working spaces like Grounded Space are a natural entry point for many startups. Well beyond just supplying a desk, Grounded Space supports startups through collaboration with hubs, government, and business.
One of the lesser considered benefits of a co-working space is opportunities to network. Meeting new people with different business and life experiences is a great way to grow and gain more knowledge, which is particularly important for startups.
Success stories from Launch Pad
One of the many success stories to come from Launch Pad is Earth AI, a “next-generation” minerals exploration company that leverages a fusion of innovative geology techniques and advanced data science to transform the process of minerals exploration to be more efficient and sustainable.
Earth AI is a tenant in the Parramatta Launch Pad centre and is playing a key role in helping to build a community of AI-driven businesses. Earth AI accesses a range of services with Launch Pad including workspace, testing sites for its drilling rig at the Western Sydney University Werrington campus, advisory support for business strategy & capital raising, and data science R&D through connectivity with Western Sydney Univeristy. This partnership gives Earth AI a unique opportunity within the University that they would not have accessed as a private organisation.
Parramatta is well placed to offer startups great opportunities, connections and partnerships that they may not easily access elsewhere. There is already a growing startup ecosystem in Parramatta and it’s only going to strengthen over the next few years.