CeBIT Australia 2015 Official Opening

(9am, Sydney Showground)

Thank you, [MC]. Good morning, everyone.

I'm also pleased to welcome our interstate and international visitors. Sydney is proud to once again host the CeBIT Australia for 2015. The forum is a natural fit for Sydney, which is Australia's leading centre for ICT and for tech start-ups.

Today, the City of Sydney generates about $106 billion worth of economic activity. It accounts for over seven per cent of Australia's GDP and almost a quarter of the NSW economy. In the five years to 2012, the City workforce grew by over 53,000, or more than 13 per cent, while the number of businesses grew by 10 per cent and the numbers employed in existing businesses grew by 14 per cent.

People of almost 200 nationalities live within our city which is the world's most popular city for international students. We provide 15 per cent of all Australia's ICT sector jobs, and 13 per cent of all creative and performing arts jobs.

We also work to build strong, sustainable local economies. In the past financial year, our free small business seminars attracted over 2,200 attendees to learn about topics ranging from opportunities for start-ups to on-line marketing and ways to grow a business. They give practical advice from industry leaders, and provide create networking opportunities for all comers.

Our Village Business Partnership grants in the last year supported business chambers and their members across the City and we've joined forces with the NSW Small Business Commissioner to bring the Small Biz Connect program to the inner city. This program brings expert, low-cost tailored business advice to operators in Darlinghurst, Redfern and Kings Cross to help both emerging and established businesses get to the next level.

The City will continue to work strategically - with individual businesses, with industry and government - to promote business prosperity and to highlight the many benefits of living, working and studying in Sydney.

With our services economy, our highly skilled workforce, and the city's physical attractions, Sydney is one of the world's most compelling global destinations. Our collaborations with you and with government have put the City in a strong position to deliver its global agenda and to develop further initiatives to cement our reputation as Australia's leading commercial and cultural centre.

Global tech companies such as Google, IBM, Atlassian, Dimension Data, Dropbox, Microsoft are located in greater Sydney. Atlassian, in fact, began its spectacular success story here.

We also have over 64 per cent of Australia's tech start-up companies and to 15 per cent of Australian workers employed in the ICT sector. Indeed, we are the top-ranked local government area for digital economic activity, with the ICT sector being the fifth largest employer in the City's local government area.

In 2014, the Innovative Cities Index of 445 cities world-wide ranked Sydney among the top 20 globally, and as number three in the Asia-Pacific region. To give just one example, Google Maps was developed in Sydney and the company has recently collaborated with Transport for NSW to include public transport information in 12 languages on Google Maps.

The digital businesses are clustered chiefly around the fringe of the city centre in areas like Ultimo-Pyrmont, Surry Hills, Redfern and Chippendale. In Ultimo-Pyrmont alone, employment in ICT businesses more than doubled in the five years to 2012.

Clearly, Sydney's future growth and prosperity will be very largely dependent on this high-potential and highly innovative sector.

So we are looking to the tech start-ups and how we can better support them as part of our drive to develop a thriving entrepreneurial community, along with the accelerators, incubators, co-working spaces, the universities, the investors and of course you - the people creating innovative solutions for real business and consumer needs.

We are now refining our draft action plan to work with industry and government partners to create an environment that will help entrepreneurs to start, to grow and to scale-up their businesses.

The plan, which will likely go to Council for approval this year, suggests ways in which the City can support this dynamic and rapidly evolving ecosystem.

Given their potential for high-growth and high-impact on the City's local economy and employment, this is an important issue for us, and one we are keen to work with partners across government and industry.

The new plan forms part of our Economic Development Strategy which commits us to three strategic priorities: to strengthen Sydney's competitiveness, to improve productivity and capacity, and to promote opportunity.

The Start-up-AUS Start-up Economy report states that in 2012, there were 1,500 Australian firms, ranging from one- or two-person start-ups created in the previous 12 months, to more established businesses which have been around for a decade or more.

Sydney took by far the lion's share, having 64 per cent of them, followed next by Melbourne with 24 per cent, with the Sydney local government area being the favoured location.

The Start-up Muster 2013, the largest survey of Australian start-ups published this year, found that of the 11 leading co-working spaces Australia-wide, three were in the LGA, which also had nine of the 22 accelerators or incubators.

So our relatively small local government area is Australia's powerhouse of innovation, economic and jobs growth, and its impact is being recognised far beyond our local borders. ATP Innovations was awarded both the International Incubator of the Year and the Technology Incubator of the Year for 2014 by the international industry leader NBIA.

Within our local government area, the benefits are also felt. Our most recent figures show that over the last five years - and this despite the global financial crisis - the City's economy has continued to grow, at twice the rate of the rest of Sydney.

Jobs growth has come mainly from the creative, ICT and tertiary education sectors. If we look at just one area of the City, Ultimo-Pyrmont, there has been another 3,000 people employed in the ICT sector since the last Census in 2011.

Of course a major employer like Google is a catalyst for that but we also know that there are over 82 small or very small ICT businesses in this area, employing over 500 people.

Sydney's start-up ecosystem is still in its early stage of development and to thrive into the future, it needs an environment which provides support networks, business and entrepreneurship education, infrastructure and - importantly - access to investment.

Our action plan acknowledges that tech start-ups embody the initiative, experimentation and enterprise that are the bedrock of a creative culture, and also that risk is a pre-condition for innovation and industry growth. There has to be room for trial and error and so our action plan recognises that we will need to measure, evaluate and review programs on a regular basis.

But the start-up community, of its nature, must be led by entrepreneurs, rather than by the City. And so we worked with a range of partners to implement pilot projects to help clarify the issues facing tech entrepreneurs, to test what role the City could play in addressing them, and to work with individuals and organisations within the ecosystem to ensure the action plan would be relevant to the sector's needs.

Pilot projects included education, networking and mentorship. We ran tech start-up seminars and supported meet-ups and a pilot program at UTS on practical business skills for entrepreneurs. We've also provided space in a number of City-owned commercial properties, to give young innovators the opportunity to work among their peers while remaining close to the sources of legal, commercial and financial support.

Projects include our support for CeBIT, for Springboard Enterprises, Remix Summit, the Global Co-working Unconference, the China Australia Millennial Project and grant recipient start-up Good 360.

We already have a number of success stories.

Atlassian, which I mentioned earlier, was formed in Sydney in 2002 by a couple of university graduates on the back of a $10,000 credit card loan. Today, it's a world-wide leader in software development, employing 750 staff and generating revenue of $150 million a year from clients including Boeing, IKEA, Deutsche Bank, Nike, NASA, HSBC, Sony and others.

Another local success story, Freelancer.com, started in 2009 when a local bought the Swedish marketplace GetAFreelancer.com. Sydney-based entrepreneur Matt Barrie improved the business model and expanded the marketplace from 500,000 users to one which now connects over 10 million employers and freelancers from 247 countries. It now has a market capitalisation of just over $1 billion and employs over 270 staff around the world.

There will be more to come, and I hope this CeBIT event will encourage those entreprenuers-in-waiting.

Once again, I welcome you all most warmly to Sydney and congratulate CeBIT on its work to produce this great business event.