Going 'Glocal' - Local start-ups partnering for global impact

The Australian smart cities market is diverse, with both horizontal and vertical strengths and opportunities. The Australian ecosystem comprises of global tech giants delivering local solutions for cities, and one-person start-ups with the next big world-changing idea. Our talent is strong, Australia's cities are in good hands and as our smart city solutions scale we have the opportunity develop internationally.

Last week, I led a workshop with global tech company SAP for SMEs and start-ups with Austrade and QUT.  The goal was to explore opportunities for helping Australian businesses with niche technology offerings for smart cities to scale up and go global.

The Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) outlined how they identify high value international opportunities for Australian businesses and leverage Australia’s reputation in liveability in order to strategically integrate Australian expertise in urban efficiency through the procurement tiers of major market leaders and multinational corporations.

An established and ubiquitous thought leader in the technology space, SAP works collaboratively with Austrade to identify emerging innovators and include them in the SAP ecosystem of support, increasing their global opportunity by accessing the SAP global customer base. SAP outlined their emerging areas of interest in smart cities, from health to mobility, and energy to safety and called out an amazing Australian case study, local born global start-up “Gruntify”, which is a real-time work-flow program for asset management, that went through the Austrade Landing Pad in San Francisco and was picked up by SAP into one of their SME pathway programs.

Mapping Australian capabilities in response to international demand, Austrade engages with government, policy makers, industry, SME’s and start-ups to understand and promote capability clusters and strengths in urban efficiencies for the cities of the future.

For the other start-ups in the room, being able to spend time among their peers, with local Brisbane success story Gruntify, was invaluable. Combined with SAP's resident Technical Innovation Executive, Dr Nicholas Nicoloudis, our urban innovators were able to dig deep on questions they may not typically have the opportunity to ask.

As our roundtable dialogue evolved, were heard from everyone on their smart cities challenges, and not only the start-ups, but also SAP, Brisbane City Council, Brisbane Marketing, QUT and SunCentral Maroochydore. This rich expression from all attendees of what was causing the most challenge enabled everyone to 'get on the same page', and realise they were all equals in some sense of the idea. This allowed meaningful discussion with a genuine aspiration to support and help each other, where practical.

Upon reflection, this forum was ideal for Australian businesses. It enabled start-ups to build an awareness of the tangible global export opportunities available to them, while at the same time building meaningful relationships and contacts with those that could help them scale, both their fellow start-up peers, but also the global giants of the tech world like SAP.

The appetite among the participating companies (both big and small) for more meaningful engagement was high, and I would confidently say that there is more to come from this group working together, and Austrade's efforts to help start-ups go 'glocal'.