Here's what Australia's tech community thinks about the plans for Sydney's own Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley/ IMDb

The NSW government wants to create a tech precinct akin to Silicon Valley in Eveleigh, Sydney.

Atlassian will assist the government to build its vision, along with Fishburners, Tech Sydney, and representatives from the University of Technology Sydney, University of Sydney and Sydney Business Chamber.

The new hub, yet to be named, will be home to 10,000 new jobs by 2036.

Business Insider spoke with Australian tech leaders to see what they think of the news.

Here’s what they had to say.

Ben Eatwell, Chief Marketing Officer at Weploy

Having a place or hub will always benefit businesses that have similar demands as the talent is attracted to the area, making it easier to develop ideas. It also reduces risk for talent as they can move around if a business doesn’t quite make it. For any startup, or even big business, talent is the most valuable asset and most expensive cost.

Being close to universities is always a big plus for startups and it appears we’ve learnt from previous drives to create business parks where land cost was the only real consideration. Having leaders from the universities being part of think tanks to align and create better links between tertiary education and business means the initiative has promise if done right.

But if you really want to create something like Silicon Valley, I think there are two additional considerations. One, you want to encourage diversity — allowing talent to come from wherever. Two, you need help to pay for talent. Sydney’s major inhibitor to encouraging startups is the cost of living, meaning bootstrapped business really struggle to attract the best talent at the levels they need. Some sort of assistance to bridge the gap between salary and living costs could really supercharge the development of the region.

Darryn McCoskery, General Manager at Rackspace ANZ

The demand for good tech capability in Australia is insatiable, and Sydney is definitely well positioned to be a national – and global – hub for tech talent and innovation.”

But it is important we put as much effort into attracting talent as we do into retaining it, which is a much bigger challenge. For individuals who love to play in the deep end of groundbreaking new tech capabilities, this means answering the following question: how do we ensure these talented individuals are surrounded by a nurturing, like-minded tribe?

We need to be able to leverage the benefits of digital transformation for the entire eco-system – the individual, their community, businesses and the Australian economy as a whole. Innovation hubs like Stone and Chalk have already shown us what amazing talent can be developed in a supportive environment.

At Rackspace, we’re focused on providing technical expertise in order to simplify the complex, and we can’t do that without hubs like these whose sole focus is to ensure the ongoing growth and sustainability of tech jobs. This is why I am really looking forward to seeing what the seeds planted by Atlassian in partnership with the NSW Government will deliver.

Mike Rosenbaum, co-founder of The Sharing Hub and CEO of Spacer.com.au

The announcement of a new technology precinct is welcome news!

Australia, and Sydney, in particular, should wholeheartedly be pushing and investing in the growing tech space, particularly the rapidly growing sharing economy. Having so many techies under one roof will really enhance collaboration and innovation and we love the idea that it could lead to Sydney’s very own “Silicon Harbour”.

The Sharing Hub has many sharing economy startups under one roof and we’re always learning from each other, so we’ll be watching developments very closely.

Samuel Raciti, Australia Country Manager for Taxify

It’s fantastic to see Australian cities investing in promoting homegrown startups. Silicon Valley growth stories have dominated the startup stage, and this move represents a positive step towards putting our booming tech industry on the map. A centralised hub bringing people and ideas together will spur the industry’s future growth and innovation and will have a ripple effect across all of Australia.

Richard Watson, Country Director at Twilio

You only have to look at the level of investment funding that has been injected into Sydney over the past few years to know that this is a smart move by NSW government. The level of innovation and pace is really exciting and coupled with the support of great universities the new technology precinct will accelerate Sydney to be the new “Valley.” Smart companies have recognised this which is why Australia is now becoming a global priority for investment.

Ben Pfisterer, Head of Asia Pacific & Australia Country Manager at Square

It’s fantastic to see more of Australia’s state governments stepping up to support the growing tech industry here.

Funding and government support for policies that will enable our industry to grow a talented workforce, and attract international talent, need to be a priority if Australia is going to be a recognised leader in this space.

We have seen a significant increase in the support that tech companies are receiving here in Victoria, and now NSW, so we are definitely heading in the right direction.

Tara Commerford, Managing Director and VP ANZ, GoDaddy

Being situated around central station and the surrounding belt is an exceptional location and really does support the development of a tech “ecosystem” by creating the connective tissue linking tertiary institutions with innovation labs, and finance.

Being close to the airport is also a plus by providing an additional level of global access too.

Co-working spaces are bubbling up all over Sydney with most of them either at or near capacity. This indicates an increasing demand for the new way of work that these hubs provide by creating a collaborative and nurturing environment that fosters innovation. It will be interesting to see how this evolves as it’s just in the early stages.

Matt Leibowitz, CEO and co-founder of Stake

The NSW government has made a bold and exciting decision with the announcement of the technology and innovation precinct. We believe it’s essential to empower start-ups to power the next phase of economic growth in Australia. Stake, as one of Australia’s fastest growing fintechs with global ambitions, is fully supportive of the initiative and to power the next generation of businesses to make a difference both locally and globally.

The Sydney Start Up Hub launched earlier this year in the Sydney CBD and the fintech incubators, along with other hubs, are based there. It’s an amazing co-working space — although we have our own premises, we often use it as a base in the CBD when we need somewhere to work or for a meeting.

Bridget Loudon, CEO and founder of Expert360

The Sydney tech hub initiative shows that the NSW government is thinking ahead.

With a healthy startup community in Sydney already, the hub will help supercharge local innovation by supporting the next generation of tech founders.

It’s great to see they’ll be consulting some of the biggest players in the industry to make sure it’s the type of place that everyone around the world will want to work.

Ultimately, the success of our startup technology sector will depend on our ability to attract and retain the best talent – from serial entrepreneurs, freelancers, VCs, growth strategists and everything in between.

Natalie Goldman , CEO of FlexCareers

The startup space is evolving and growing and it is great to see the NSW government together with one of the leading players in the tech space, Atlassian. It shines the light on the startup sector in a positive way, encouraging innovation, collaboration and growth. When key players work together it is a great sign of things to come.

Mick Spencer, CEO and Founder of ONTHEGO

This is a great initiative from the NSW government. Too often we see domestic tech talent lost to overseas opportunities. The future of all industries, from e-commerce to manufacturing and marketing requires us to build a defendable talent pool locally.

The government’s investment in building a Sydney tech hub shows the value it places on the startup ecosystem. By bringing together a community of like-minded disruptors and innovators, it will encourage more growth, more new ventures, and new collaborations.

Miles Carroll, Managing Director of Kosmos Capital

This is a welcoming move by the NSW government and a great way to stimulate the start up scene in Australia especially for those exploring emerging technologies such as blockchain.

Investing in a Sydney tech hub will put the city on the global map as a startup hub.

This is particularly appealing to early stage startups looking to make a mark in the market, not only will they feel comfortable making Sydney their home base but will be more reluctant to relocate to tech hubs such as Silicon Valley simply for prestige.

Jason Lee, Expansion Director for Australia and New Zealand for the NEM Foundation

We welcome the announcement and the message that we should really see technology being embraced within all rungs of the public and private sector in order to develop Australia’s Silicon Valley, where everyone is using technology from day to day tasks to work productivity.

Jason Baden, Regional Vice President at F5 ANZ

To build a digital economy in Australia we need to be laser focused on driving innovation. We have a vibrant startup community, and we want to be supporting them to their full potential so that one day soon we can point to Australia’s very own industry disrupting app that joins the ranks of Uber and Airbnb.

Technology now sits at the core of any successful economy, and we can all agree that our current tech skills gap means we need to be doing everything we can to create spaces where new talents and innovation are encouraged and embraced. The cybersecurity industry in particular is being hit hard by the lack of skills needed to drive growth, and vendors and governments alike need to acknowledge the potential impact this will have on innovation as a whole.

Part of closing this gap is about attracting the best global technology brands, and with them, the best talent. Vibrant tech hubs like these are needed in order to be at the forefront of innovation and to remain competitive in today’s app-centric environment, where the likes of tech conglomerates and super apps like Facebook and WeChat reign supreme.

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