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Spark Festival is back to celebrate start-ups and innovation in Sydney this October


Spark Festival Sydney, in partnership with Jobs for NSW and City of Sydney, has announced the first round of events that will feature in its program this coming October 22-30, in a nine-day celebration of start-ups, entrepreneurship and innovation in Sydney.

In only its second year, having rebranded from the highly successful Startup Week Sydney in 2015, Spark Festival is Australia’s leading start-up festival, organised by the start-up community for the start-up community.

The first round of Spark Festival’s program features over 50 events across tracks including The Startup Journey, HealthTech, Going Global, Internet of Things (IoT), Cyber Security, Social Enterprise, Fintech, Education, Diversity and more. Further events will be added, culminating in an expected 60 different events across 15 tracks.

The events take various formats including meetups, mixers, hackathons, create-a-thons, panels, open days, presentations and pitching competitions. The program is designed to appeal to all stages of the entrepreneurship journey, including established entrepreneurs, investors, students, people already working in startups, as well as those curious to find out more. It also includes events for children and teenagers, in recognition of the critical importance of this stage in building an entrepreneurial culture.

Spark Festival Sydney is also remarkable for the collaboration that has taken place across the Sydney innovation ecosystem to curate the program. Diversity and inclusiveness was built in from the start. Early in 2016 the Spark Festival board reached out to the entire start-up and innovation ecosystem. Over a series of meetings 15 different themes emerged. These became the Spark Festival Tracks, each lead by a Track Lead who is a connected and passionate advocate for increasing knowledge and expertise in their domain. The Track Leads group includes representatives from:

  • Universities such as UTS and University of Sydney;
  • Incubators such as Blue Chilli, Fishburners, Tank Stream Labs, Muru-D and Stone & Chalk;
  • Industry players such as Asia Recon, Atlassian, Everything IoT, FinTech Australia, Social Enterprises Australia, Rare Birds; and
  • Government departments and agencies including CSIRO, Data 61, the Digital Transformation Office and NSW Dept of Industry, in addition to Festival major sponsors Jobs for NSW and City of Sydney.

Why is the Spark Festival so necessary?

Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy, Anthony Roberts, said the NSW Government’s support for the Spark Festival further demonstrates Sydney’s status as the nation’s start-up capital.

“Almost half of Australia’s start-up companies call Sydney home, so it’s a natural place to hold the Spark Festival – a celebration of our nation’s thriving start-up ecosystem.

“The Spark Festival actually grew out of last year’s successful StartupWeek Sydney which brought more than 8000 people together across 63 events at 39 venues to connect, share and develop their ideas.

“We need to do all we can to support these high-growth startup companies which make up six per cent of the State’s total businesses in the six years to 2014 and helped create about one million jobs in NSW.

“The NSW Government is committed to growing the State’s network of incubators and accelerators and, through Jobs for NSW, we are providing funding specifically to help NSW start-ups scale into the high-growth, job-creating companies of tomorrow”.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said supporting events like Spark was a crucial part of the City’s action plan for tech start-ups.

“We want to make sure Sydney is a place where entrepreneurs can quickly scale innovative businesses and create the jobs of our city’s future,” the Lord Mayor said. “Events like Spark Festival Sydney help build the skilled and connected community we need to make that happen. Our three-year funding commitment for Spark Festival Sydney is a practical step to creating a sustainable, long-term program of events to help us support and attract tech entrepreneurs.”

Alex Scandurra, CEO of Stone & Chalk and Spark Festival Board Member stated, “The length and breadth of this year’s program, alongside the energy and hard work of the 15 Track Leads who have volunteered their time to create such a diverse and important series of events, is testimony to the depth of Sydney’ startup ecosystem and of our shared determination for getting Sydney back in the top 10 of the world’s leading entrepreneurship and innovation cities.”