Australians have always been drawn to Silicon Valley, but never in the numbers that are present today. The hard work of Aussie entrepreneurs over the past two decades has succeeded in opening doors right across the Valley venture community, and a wave of Australian start-ups are taking advantage. Many Silicon Valley funders aren’t even waiting for the next batch of Aussies to ‘deplane’ – they are now scouting for the next big thing directly in Australia.
In this story for Austrade’s Australia Unlimited magazine I speak to many of the new crop of Silicon Valley-based entrepreneurs, including Bardia Housman, Elias Bizannes and Ryan Junee, and a few more who are on their way. While global markets are opening up increasingly to Australian technology, Silicon Valley is still the place to be.
Just as the combination of broadband Internet access and digital cameras has all but wiped out the need for photographic film, so too it seems that similar combinations of broadband and electronics will do the same for the humble CD. In this story published last year in The Australian I explore the statements by Simon Fox, head of the UK-based entertainment retailer HMV, who said that CDs would be obsolete by 2016. For the CD, which pushed vinyl albums of record store shelves due to(alleged) superior audio reproduction, the final blow is being delivered not by a superior physical media, but by cloud computing.
Much off the discussion of cloud computing has focused on its uptake within large corporations and government departments. But in truth the greatest uptake of cloud services is occurring within small business. In many cases the business owners aren’t even aware that they are using the cloud – they are just getting on with the job. In this feature for The Australian I take a look into how cloud computing is benefiting Australia’s small businesses.
For start-up companies in the technology industry, times have never been so good. At no time before have start-ups had so much access to cash and incubator programs, and it seems there is no shortage of entrepreneurs with good ideas to take advantage of them. In this story for The Australian, published late last year, I take a look into the state of play for start-up funding, and the significant gap that then exists in the funding market once a company has gotten started …
Each year the Intelligent Community Forum searches the world for those communities that provide a model of economic and social development in the 21st Century using information and communications technology. The Top Seven for this year have just been announced – although unfortunately none of the nominated cities are from Australia (or indeed, from the southern hemisphere – although the State of Victoria was nominated in 2004). The nominations celebrate those communities that are using information and communications technology to power growth, address social challenges and preserve and promote culture, and this year’s seven include three from Canada, two from the US, one from Finland and one from Taiwan. In June, one of the Top Seven is named ICF’s Intelligent Community of the Year. Last year’s nominees included the US city of Chattanooga, whose CIO Mark Keil visited Australia last year to discuss his city’s adoption of high-speed broadband.
Last November I had the pleasure of being invited to speak at the Creative Innovation 2011 conference as part of a line-up that included Edward de Bono. Also on the list was Raymond Kurzweil, a US serial entrepreneur and noted futurist, so it was great to have the opportunity to speak to him while he was here in Australia.
I first spoke to Raymond more than ten years ago when I was working for The Australian. At that time Kurzweil had been researching the conjunction of technologies that will lead to the creation of true artificial intelligence and potentially even the ability for people to copy their minds into machine.
That concept of singularity is still a key focus for Kurzweil, but his interests spans a broad range of topics from 3D printing to life extension. You can read more about his current thinking in this special report written for The Australian’s website.
While debate about the cost and appropriateness of the National Broadband Network is clogging city media, in regional Australia the main question is one of ‘when can we get it’. That has certainly been the case in Victoria’s second largest city, Geelong. So keen is Geelong and its surrounding councils to get in early on the NBN that its representatives have attended events such as the Intelligent Community Forum, and late last year Geelong was instrumental in bringing to Australia Mark Kiel, the CIO of one of the world’s first cities to adopt gigabit-speed Internet connections (pictured, standing to the right alongside City of Greater Geelong’s Rod Macdonald – pic courtesy of the Geelong Advertiser). Chattanooga in the US state of Tennessee has taken a leadership position on broadband in an attempt to build its economy, and its gamble appears to be paying off.
I had the chance to chat to Mark while he was in Australia, and the story appeared on the Sydney Morning Herald IT Pro site in November last year. High speed broadband has brought prosperity to Chattanooga in terms of helping secure business investment and is leading to a new wave of entrepreneurial activity in the city, as well as providing direct benefits in terms of improved services. You can read all about it by clicking here.