CeBIT Plenary Opening

(8.15am, Tuesday 28 May 2013, The Star Pyrmont)

Thank you, [MC]. Good morning, everyone. And 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 live in our City.

I'm pleased to welcome our interstate and international visitors, and I also acknowledge the NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell.

Sydney is once again delighted to welcome you and to be the host city for this great event. More than 30,000 visitors are expected over the three days, with a huge array of companies represented and eight conferences in specialist areas.

It's at once a conference, exhibition and networking forum, a marketplace of ideas and innovations.

Of particular significance for Sydney is the focus this year on start-ups - an increasingly significant part of urban economies world-wide, and one which in Sydney is especially vibrant.

Like all cities, we are focussed on smart growth and the knowledge economy, and building the city as a centre of excellence.

Information technology is the key to such growth, and is increasingly important in the growth of Sydney's economy.

Australia has always been quick to embrace technology - you only have to glance around you on our Sydney streets to understand that! - and we have a history of ingenuity and fresh ideas, as well as a wide choice of high-quality educational institutions. Again, the number of overseas students - over 35,000 at present - who choose to complete their education in Sydney speaks for itself.

It is also Australia's leading centre for finance and business services, essential partners to start-ups as much as to major corporations. Seventy per cent of all banks and other financial institutions in Australia are headquartered in Sydney.

It is Australia's largest centre for digital, media and telecommunications companies, with one in seven people employed in Australia's entire digital economy located in Sydney. We also have the highest concentrations of people working in data processing, web hosting, and also in internet publishing and broadcasting.

The City of Sydney is proud of our young innovators and enterprising start-ups and while the big levers of change are in the hands of the Federal and State Governments, we are working to support start-ups and new enterprise.

We've provided space in a number of City-owned commercial properties for these innovators, giving them the opportunity to work among their peers while remaining close to the sources of legal, commercial and financial advice.

Earlier this month, I launched Vibewire's Innovation Lab, which goes under the slogan: "Young people should create the future, not inherit it". This group has helped launch more than 100 social and creative projects since 2006, including Australia's first crowd-funding platform and a live music charity, Major Raiser.

These young innovators are not merely creating new systems and products, they're finding new and resourceful ways to grow their businesses, put their ideas into practice and connect locally, nationally and globally.

They're forming the sort of collaborations that help foster innovative solutions, they're harnessing the creativity and energy of their young peers to build a city that is equitable, involved and alive.

The major challenges facing cities around the world - climate change, the need for sustainable energy, population shifts and the resulting pressures on space, on transport and all services - should tell us that we need people who are willing to go beyond the old boundaries to find creative and sustainable solutions.

In Sydney, we're seeing urban connectivity, accelerated by the web, inspiring new creative and business opportunities, stronger and sometimes surprising community networks emerging, and a far broader range of voices raised in our debates and discussions and, ultimately, in decision-making.

As the world's economic focus shifts to this region, Sydney is building on its already strong assets - including the skilled workforce and multi-cultural population, its strong financial sector, its liveability, and connectivity to the world - to become a major hub in the Asia-Pacific, uniquely positioned as a nexus between East and West.

Among those assets we can now count our start-ups, and I am delighted that there is that special focus on them at this CeBit event for 2013.

Once again, I welcome you all most warmly to Sydney, and congratulate CeBIT on what will surely be another significant and enriching experience for participants.