Tech after capital to make Perth top

Canva started in Perth before being seduced by tech-savvy Sydney.

TECH heads want Perth to become the “Tech Capital of Australia” and are hoping a new action plan from Perth council will help keep startups here instead of fleeing east. 

Cullum Ashton from PropTech Hub WA, a CBD collaboration space for property-industry tech types, attended this week’s council meeting to implore councillors to show leadership in the tech sector.

“There is a line outside this room queueing to help – with a plan for technology and to help Perth be the tech capital of Australia,” he said.

Incentives

Following his speech the council narrowly endorsed Sandy Anghie’s notice of motion to investigate ways to keep local tech businesses and attract interstate and overseas techies with a “Tech Action Plan” for incentives and funding.

She said tech is a critical sector but WA’s losing business to cities like Sydney, which has a global reputation for entrepreneurship and has the highest concentration of startups in Australia.

“Think of Canva,” Cr Anghie said, referring to the online graphic design and publishing tool, “they started out here in Perth but are now based in Sydney. 

“According to recent media reports, Canva is now worth an astonishing $55 billion.”

She said the city had supported the tech industry with $926,000 for events and funding over the past eight years but more support was needed to compete with Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne, all of which have some form of tech or startup action plan. 

“We need people to know that Perth is a tech hub, and we need to support them when they get here.”

Cr Clyde Bevan supported the motion saying “we don’t have a tech plan; we need one,” and revealed he’d been a long time fan of technology: “Many years ago when I joined the bank, I thought their calculators were sensational.”

Cr Viktor Ko agreed and said after visiting recent tech events he heard it wasn’t just funding that could support the sector, but also the exposure the capital city council could offer.

City staff weren’t keen on having something so zoomed in as a Tech Action Plan, recommending against it as they already had a broader Economic Development Strategy that promoted innovation. 

Lord mayor Basil Zempilas said the whole council seemed to agree it was important to support the tech sector, they just disagreed on whether the plan was the way to go.  

The vote was 5:4 in favour of the tech plan with councillors Anghie, Bevan, Ko, Di Bain and Liam Gobbert in favour. City staff will now come up with a plan and work out how much will be needed for next year’s budget to cover the actions. 

by DAVID BELL

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