“Huge coup for Sydney” – $35m startup hub to host exclusive Microsoft accelerator program


NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian speaking at the launch of the Sydney Startup Hub

The launch of the Sydney Startup Hub, today, has coincided with an announcement that Microsoft has signed up as a tenant and will run its acclaimed Scale-Up accelerator program from the new $35 million facility.

Announced by the NSW Government in July 2017, the Sydney Startup Hub was funded by Jobs for NSW, which anticipates it will generate up to 6,500 new jobs across regional and metro NSW.

Occupying 17,000 square metres, across 11 floors, on York Street in Sydney’s CBD, the facility counts Stone & Chalk, Fishburners, Tank Stream Labs, The Studio, Slingshot and H2 Ventures amongst the startup support bodies in residence.

In addition to providing space for 2,500 residents, the Sydney Startup Hub is catering for entrepreneurs outside the metro area through a dedicated Regional Landing Pad.

Noting that Sydney is only the eighth location in the world to host Microsoft Scale-Up, Premier Gladys Berejiklian described Microsoft’s decision to join Sydney Startup Hub as “a huge vote of confidence in our city, our economy and the people that make up our startup community”.

In the five years since Microsoft Scale-Up launched, close to 730 companies have graduated from programs run in Bangalore, Shanghai, Beijing, London, Berlin, Seattle and Tel Aviv. In total, Scale-Up alumni have raised US$3 billion in venture capital and had 48 exits.

Citing “enormous competition” from different countries to secure Microsoft Scale-Up, Small Business Minister John Barilaro said it would not have been possible to attract an accelerator program of Scale-Up’s calibre without the NSW Government’s investment in the Sydney Startup Hub.

Meanwhile, Microsoft Australia Managing Director Steven Worrall said his company’s aim, in taking up residence at the Sydney Startup Hub, was to “be the glue that connects the start-up ecosystem in Australia”.

In addition to running the Scale-Up program from the Sydney Startup Hub, Microsoft has plans to use the facility to host events, including hackathons, investor pitches and CEO sessions.

Muru-D co-founder and former Fishburners CEO Annie Parker was recently appointed to lead Microsoft’s startup programs globally, including Microsoft Scale-Up. The tech company is currently in the process of recruiting a Managing Director to lead the Sydney ScaleUp program and expects to run its first four-month program before the end of 2018.

Alex Gruszka, COO of StartupAUS – the peak body for Australian startups – described the Sydney Startup Hub as a “striking example of what can be achieved in a short time with an action-focused approach”.

He added, “In 2016, StartupAUS publicly called for investment into innovation precincts as a key component of a thriving tech sector. Within two years, Jobs for NSW, with the support of the startup ecosystem, have created the largest startup hub in the southern hemisphere. It is a fantastic achievement that sets a high bar for the ambitions of Australia more broadly

Bede Moore, the director of entrepreneur-led advocacy agency TechSydney described Microsoft’s tenancy as “a huge coup for Sydney and Australia”, adding that the Scale-Up program will “help us take our startup development to the next level we need to compete globally.

Although he described the official opening of the Sydney Startup Hub as a “milestone moment for Sydney’s startup economy”, Moore noted that the hub is “not far from capacity”.

“While this is evidence of the hub’s success, we need to now start looking beyond the end of the five-year lease – a timeframe in which many of our fledgling startup brands will have reached scale-up stage,” he said. “Rather than allowing these valuable high-growth technology businesses to disperse and dilute the impact of their economic offering, the evidence from high performance innovation communities worldwide points to the need for us to provide them with a more permanent home in a central location.”