This page provides a summary of the Forum and the activity leading up to it.

The ecosystem of support for Adelaide's emerging entrepreneurs has grown dramatically over recent years.
This is an exciting time for the entrepreneurship community in Adelaide:
  • an unprecedented number of entrepreneurs are committed to starting and growing innovative businesses here;
  • Dr Jana Mathews and the ANZ Innovyz START program have attracted national and international interest to Adelaide;
  • a new wave of co-working spaces have emerged independently across Adelaide to provide supportive environments for emerging businesses;
  • the State Government has provided significant support for the establishment of Hub Adelaide;
  • bootcamp events such as Startup Weekend and Unleashed/GovHack attract large numbers of enthusiastic participants;
  • large numbers of successful entrepreneurs are willingly giving back through mentoring and investment.

There is a real wave of enthusiasm for entrepreneurship.

Yet all this activity begs the question: will it be sufficient to ensure that Adelaide becomes, and is recognised as, a great city to start and grow a business? Do we yet, have all the elements and the human interactions in place to make Adelaide what Brad Feld calls a “Startup Community” and what Victor Hwang and Greg Horowitt describe as a "Rainforest" – an innovation ecosystem – “a human network that generates extraordinary creativity and output”?

Adelaide clearly has many of the ingredients – but are there critical ingredients missing? … and do we have the recipe to bring them all together to truly make Adelaide a City of Entrepreneurs?

In short: can we, and should we, do better?

Mapping the Ecosystem
Earlier this year a group of motivated people within the entrepreneurship community set about mapping the ecosystem of support for entrepreneurs. This generated a great deal of interest from many stakeholders and is now seen as a very useful tool for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to navigate the support programs available and for others looking to complement
the existing support programs or provide better prospects for new ventures. A visual representation of the current map is available here.

A Discussion Paper
In the lead up to the Forum, the Adelaide City Council commissioned a discussion paper to be prepared by Paul Daly, whose experience in the mapping exercise and subsequent discussions with a variety of stakeholders had identified a number of themes that might be considered in the context of the Forum and Workshop. This discussion paper was provided to participants as a 'thought starter' ahead of the Forum. It is available here.

The Forum - Towards a City of Entrepreneurs

On Tuesday 25 June 2013, 60 members of Adelaide’s entrepreneurial community came together to consider the entrepreneurial ecosystem that already exists and explore the question “can we and should we do better?“. The Agenda for the Forum and Workshop is here.

The morning commenced with a welcome address from mentor, investor and long term champion of innovation, Tim Waterhouse. Tim highlighted three key opportunities moving forward
  • Promoting the strength of the ecosystem we have – for global recognition - and to encourage local participation and confidence
  • Helping entrepreneurs find opportunities and support that improve their chances of success
  • To identify gaps in the ecosystem and encourage someone to fill them

Mick O Neill on behalf of the forum sponsor Adelaide City Council referred to a quote in the book The Rainforest in relation to the importance of relationships in innovative communities
“Innovation is really about the right relationships among the right people at the right time, so that the innovation takes whatever outward form it needs to take, whether it is a large company, a fast-growing start-up, a joint venture with a large corporation, a license agreement for intellectual property, or a non-profit foundation. In innovation the superficial manifestations are secondary to the human relationships.”

He further added that Adelaide City Council is equally committed to engaging with our stakeholders to co-create this environment with them – not doing it to them or for them but with them.

The keynote presentation from Dr Jana Matthews discussed the experience of Boulder Colorado as it emergence as a globally recognised Startup Community. She identified the 8 critical elements of innovative communities:
  1. Critical Mass
  2. Hard infrastructure
  3. “Soft “ infrastructure
  4. Quality of life
  5. Excellent K-12 education
  6. Outstanding University R&D
  7. Industry and Government R&D
  8. Leadership and an “ACTION PLAN”

The forum was given an objective and very encouraging perspective of Adelaide and its potential by Harry Schiff, CEO of Agent Anything who moved here from Montreal, Canada to participate in the ANZ Innovyz START program.

Jana left Forum participants with the following take-aways:
  1. Adelaide has the critical mass (10x the size of Boulder)
  2. We need to take an outside-in view, realize our assets, and promote them.
  3. Adelaide has MANY assets.
  4. We need to help entrepreneurs commercialise innovation.
  5. We need people to invest their money in our companies.

The Workshop

The forum moved into an interactive workshop facilitated by Mark Douglas of Ethos Australia.

Participants were asked to think from the perspective of various stakeholder groups in the ecosystem (entrepreneurs, program providers supporting entrepreneurs, State and local government, formal education providers, investors, etc) and to answer the following questions:

What would this stakeholder group want to see in 2018 if Adelaide is well on the way to developing a strong and vibrant entrepreneurial culture”
“What would they be doing and experiencing in this new culture?”

Participants contributed their ideas covering each of these stakeholder groups. The cumulative contributions are captured here.

The next part of the workshop looked at translating Ambitions to Actions. Participants were asked:

“What four actions need to be embraced in the next 12-24 months in order to advance the Adelaide Entrepreneurial Culture?”

A large number of specific actions were identified and the most common elements were subsequently grouped into five key themes. The actions proposed are all listed here. We have included actions that weren't grouped so that people keen to address these also have the opportunity to do so. We welcome clarification and feedback on the proposed actions as well as other ideas for actions that can improve the environment for entrepreneurs and new ventures in Adelaide.

The five themes formed the basis of five key focus areas and an Action Group was established for each one.
A volunteer was identified to convene each of these Action Groups and more than two thirds of the 60 participants presentnominated for involvement in one or more of the Action Groups.

Teams drawn from participants have started meeting to develop and champion initiatives designed to:
  • strengthen networking and relationships within the community,
  • enhance education, skill development and advice for entrepreneurs,
  • improve access to finance,
  • promote the entrepreneurial ecosystem that we already have - both within SA and externally, and
  • establish a central portal or community presence online to encourage and support participation from stakeholders.

‍Each Action Group was tasked with the challenge of developing viable strategies for addressing one of these five core themes.

Guidelines for Action Groups
• Briefly describe the initiative and how it links to the broad ambition
• Explain the main beneficiaries of this project
• Explain how this initiative is innovative or might succeed where other similar initiatives have failed.
• Identify the resources and level of commitment required to make this initiative a success.
• Identify the likely steps and a realistic time-frame that will see successful implementation of this initiative.
• Who else should be/could be involved?

Teams will present their responses to this challenge in the form of proposed strategies to a much wider public forum to be held in mid-August. The broader community will then be invited to provide feedback on the proposed strategies.

On behalf of the community, I would like to thank the Adelaide City Council for its sponsorship and support of the June Forum and, in particular, I would like to thank Mick O'Neil, Stephen Boyd and Tania Cooper for their personal commitment and support. Stephen tackled the tedious task of collating information from the forum (including butchers paper and sticky notes) that forms the basis of this Wiki and its supporting materials.

I would also like to thank Tim Waterhouse for chairing the Forum and Mark Douglas for facilitating the workshop so effectively and making the best possible use of a very limited amount of time. Thanks also to Jana Matthews and Harry Schiff for helping us to better appreciate what we already have ... and making the task ahead of us seem ever more manageable and achievable.

And finally thanks to all of you who have contributed so much to the mapping exercise and the discussion paper and those of you who contributed some great ideas through the forum & workshop.