September 2, 2019
Source: The Advertiser
Author: Cameron England
2 September, 2019
Next month an innovation hub, which lies at the very core of the Lot Fourteen strategy to nurture technology-based businesses in South Australia, will open its doors.
Stone and Chalk was selected as the operator of the start-up hub at Lot Fourteen in June, and has since been recruiting companies to join its program.
The not-for-profit, which started in Sydney in 2015, boasts a strong success rate for start-ups and scale-ups which join its program, which offers access to investors, mentoring, access to talent, and crucially, engagement with larger companies which can become customers.
Stone and Chalk’s Adelaide general manager Chris Kirk, who has been evaluating companies to bring them into the incubator, says the mission, as it is in Sydney and Melbourne where the organisation already operates, is to be the “Centre of Gravity” for the start-up ecosystem.
Stone and Chalk was started in Sydney in early 2015 as a not for profit with a purpose to help “enable the industries of tomorrow” Mr Kirk said.
It was based on work done by think tank The Committee for Sydney, and was aimed to ensure the city stayed at the forefront of the financial services sector. Stone and Chalk has since also opened in Melbourne, and says start-ups in its community have raised more than $330 million.
The local iteration of Stone and Chalk will be focused on areas that “make sense for South Australia, where there’s a natural competitive advantage” such as defence, space, ag-tech and big data.
Mr Kirk said the one of the main focuses for Stone and Chalk was about connecting start-ups with customers.
“It’s, how do you connect great scaling ventures with customers locally, so that ultimately that drives their valuation, that drives their product development, that drives keeping good start-ups in the state?’’ he said.
There is also a role in teaching start-ups and corporates how to communicate and work with each other.
“The next pillar often for high-growth companies is often capital,’’ Mr Kirk said.
“Our model is one in which we deliberately decided not to invest in start-ups. But we run a number of programs to help start-ups raise capital.
“We run investor programs we teach start-ups, we match them with experts who can teach them how to raise capital.’’
Mr Kirk said educating high-net worth investors about how to be involved was also important.
Getting talent out of the universities and into companies was also facilitated through internship opportunities.
Mr Kirk said Lot Fourteen would provide valuable synergies for companies in areas such as defence and space. For example the Defence Teaming Centre and satellite company Myriota are already tenants, and it will also be home to Australia’s space agency.
“Our job is to work out what makes sense for us to lead and drive to support others,’’ Mr Kirk said.