"There's More We Can Do": How Australia's New Tech Council Marks A Maturation of the Australian Ecosystem - Start Up Gazzete
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“There’s More We Can Do”: How Australia’s New Tech Council Marks A Maturation of the Australian Ecosystem


A group of heavyweights from the Australian tech industry have formed a new industry body and lobby group, in a move that represents a maturing of the local ecosystem, according to new CEO Kate Pounder.

The Tech Council of Australia is chaired by Tesla Chair Robyn Denholm with other board members including Scott Farquhar of Atlassian, Anthony Eisen of Afterpay, Mina Radhakrishnan of: D ifferent, Didier Elzinga of Culture Amp and Cliff Obrecht of Canva.

The group is headed by Pounder, formerly the CEO of Accenture, as CEO.

Founding members include Microsoft and Google, as well as local venture capital firms Blackbird, Airtree, and Main Sequence, and technology leaders such as Airtasker, RedBubble, and 99designs.

The council represents something of an evolution of the former industry body StartupAus, which has now merged with the Tech Council. Former StartupAus boss Alex McCauley is also on the board of directors, having moved to the United States to study.

He also recognizes the growing economic contribution of the technology sector to the Australian economy.

Accenture, in a report published in conjunction with the launch, calls the Australian tech sector a “critical” part of the economy, contributing $ 167 billion to GDP in financial year 2021. That made it the third largest contributor.

There are currently about 861,000 people employed in tech jobs.

However, the report suggests that despite a number of success stories, the sector here is lagging behind, compared to other comparable countries.

That’s something the new council is looking to turn around, and fast.

Its target is 1 million technology-related jobs in Australia by 2025, and an annual contribution of $ 250 billion to GDP by 2030.


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Speaking to SmartCompany, Pounder emphasizes that this is not only an important sector, it is a sector with great promise.

We are just getting started. Therefore, it is important to have a single voice “that can work constructively with governments in particular to ensure that we maintain the right conditions for growth.”

Pounder says the council was a “brainchild” of McCauley, who in his tenure saw budding startups flourish into big tech companies in their own right.

“He saw that maturation in the industry and felt that the industry body needed to mature with it,” Pounder explains.

But he also stresses that there will be continued support for emerging startups. In fact, it is something that is close to the hearts of the technology leaders sitting on the board.

“They know what they went through to build companies,” he says.

“They really want to give back to the industry and help that next wave of Australian entrepreneurs.”


The council will continue to publish the StartupAus Crossroads report, while an affiliate membership program will serve companies in earlier stages.

Pounder also recognizes that if the council is successful in influencing the new policy, those companies will quickly evolve into medium and large companies.

“We want a model that helps companies throughout their life cycle,” says Pounder.

When asked about his immediate priorities, Pounder says the number one order point was setting a goal. That is, create 1 million technology-related jobs by 2025 and contribute $ 250 billion in value to GDP by 2030.

The team’s focus will be on creating a roadmap to achieve this, he says.

“We want it to be done now.”


“There is more we can do”


This is not a government well known for its support of the tech sector. But Pounder suggests that the tide is turning, and that the tech sector is beginning to be recognized “absolutely” as an engine of economic growth.

The council’s launch has been well received by the Prime Minister and other leaders on both sides of politics, he says, with the two major parties expressing their desire to work constructively with the group.

“There is genuine enthusiasm in government, as well as industry, about what Australia is capable of,” he says.

He also points to the recent reform of employee engagement plans as a “really positive” policy development.

That’s the kind of thing that allows early start-up employees to leave their roles with enough money in their pockets to build something themselves, he notes.

Tax incentives for early stage venture capital firms are also a step in the right direction.

That said, “we also believe that there is more we can do.”

There is room for improvement in the frameworks to incentivize financing for technology companies, he notes. And while he is not concerned that Australia could create 1 million tech jobs, there is a question as to whether we will fill them.

“Working with governments and communities and the education sector to make sure we have people excited about tech jobs and understanding the pathways to them is really critical.”

Part of the Tech Council’s plans will also be around improving understanding of the tech sector among the general public, Pounder explains.

“A lot of people don’t appreciate the significant contribution you’re making today; they don’t appreciate the job opportunities that exist,” she says.

“Helping Australians know what is possible is also an important goal.”

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Joshua Smith

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