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Co-working spaces unearth start-up community in Tasmania

Friday, 13 September 2013 | By Rose Powell

The Tasmanian start-up scene is becoming increasingly active as the state looks to transition from traditional industries to a more digital future.


Casey Farrell, a director at community group Startup Tasmania and Hobart co-working space the Typewriter Factory, says the start-up community is gaining momentum.


“We’re seeing a lot of organisations pop up all over the state to actually commercialise their innovative ideas and this has really helped to unearth the start-up community that existed here, but wasn’t out in the open so much,” Farrell says.


Tasmania is set to host a range of events for the Startup Spring Festival, including a bootcamp for 10 to 15 start-ups coordinated by Farrell.


Farrell adds while the NBN is an important factor in the rising start-up scene, Tassie start-ups are playing to the region’s strengths.


“There are a lot of start-ups who, rather than being purely tech, are also aligned with the more traditional and still significant industries, such as agriculture, aquaculture and food production,” Farrell says. “People within those industries with years of experience will have really great ideas about how to improve and disrupt those industries. So they’re beginning to seek out start-up groups to help them launch these ideas and commercialise them.”


James Riggall, director of start-up community group StartupTasmania, told StartupSmart the Tasmanian start-up ecosystem was gaining momentum.


“We’ve had this problem over the past few years where there have been lots of people doing exciting entrepreneurial stuff but we haven’t been connecting with each other. Many of us have international plans, so our eyes have been on the horizon rather than our immediate surrounds,” Riggall says, adding this means the broader public hasn’t been aware of the state’s entrepreneurial capacity and intent.


Riggall, who is based in Launceston, adds that plans for a co-working space and start-up incubator at Macquarie House will be central to an increasingly aware and supportive community.


“We’re seeing a shift in the culture of Tasmania. Like a lot of other regional centres, we’ve been focused on traditional industries rather than innovation and creativity, so historically we haven’t supported entrepreneurs much. But we’re seeing that change being valued by the governments and universities down here,” Riggall says. “Entrepreneurs are coming out of the woodwork now the wider community is clearer about valuing them.”