(6pm, Tuesday 12 February 2013, Barnett Long Room, Customs House)
Good evening, everyone. Welcome to Customs House - and for our US guests, a very warm welcome to Sydney. I'd like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who call our city home.
I am pleased to welcome Kay Koplovitz, the founder of Springboard Enterprises. Your vision, energy and determination is encouraging women across America, and now in Australia, to take the future into their own hands.
When I launched Springboard Australia at Town Hall last May, I asked the women present to use their networks to encourage their friends and colleagues to register with Springboard Enterprises.
The word certainly spread, and now eight of Australia's most promising women entrepreneurs with high-growth businesses have been selected for coaching.
They come from pharmaceuticals, e-commerce, banking, clean technology and new media, and I'm pleased that four of them are from Sydney.
Entrepreneurs and start-ups are vitally important to our Sydney economy. In the last 12 months, we have provided Council-owned buildings in Oxford Street and William Street to a wide range of creative and tech start-ups.
AroundYou.com.au - one of the tenants - grew spectacularly last year, going from three to 11 sales representatives in just eight months. It's now employing 30 more, thanks to affordable rent that allowed the company to focus on its website, products and personnel.
Sydney's making a significant contribution - a recent study said we lead the world for data driven startups, from the global impact of Google Maps, to the data crunching work Sirca does for the finance sector.
The digital world needs flexibility and a willingness to experiment; adaptability and being responsive to new demands; innovation and a willingness to move beyond the tried and true.
Even though retail faces serious challenges online, we're seeing encouraging partnerships.
For example, Sydney start up "Shoes of Prey" is collaborating with the David Jones Department Store on a new kind of retail outlet - where you can make your own shoes online, while trying out different materials in the shop.
A Deloitte study released late last year said a third of our national economy faced major disruptions in the near future - with another third facing longer term digital impacts.
The digital revolution is turning entire industries upside-down and creating whole new industries.
This is the business environment we're in - and our economic development unit at the City of Sydney is working to foster and support startups and more traditional businesses.
That support includes sector workshops, retail briefings, local precinct strategies, our well-attended Let's Talk Business seminar series and our annual City of Sydney Business Awards.
As Australia's global city, with our strong links to Asia as well as the west, we are uniquely placed to be a hub for innovation and entrepreneurs.
Sydney's traditionally been a place where people meet, share knowledge, find like-minded people, and start new projects.
We have the creative population, the high-quality educational and research institutions, we have the legal and financial expertise, to make this happen.
Above all, we have the energy and the commitment to excellence that will enable that vision to be realised.
Once again, a very warm welcome to our American guests, and congratulations to the eight women selected for this excellent program.