Is this Australia’s new innovation hotspot?

Newcastle New South Wales
Aerial view of Newcastle in the NSW Hunter region. Credit: Shutterstock

Move over Silicon Valley – while the picturesque Hunter region on the NSW central coast is perhaps best known for its wineries and coal industry, it’s also shaping up to be a new hotspot for tech innovation.

This potential was recognised at a recent event in Sydney where six Hunter-based start-ups were invited to pitch their ideas to investors and industry leaders.

The event was organised by not-for-profit organisation Hunter iF and showcased innovations ranging from super efficient wind turbines to autonomous vehicle technology with human-like instincts, agri-tech that enables farmers to conduct sophisticated soil tests on the paddock in real-time, and an app that helps prevent dementia deaths by promoting positive social interactions with family and friends.

Hunter iF Startup Xpress
Six of the Hunter region’s most promising start-ups unveiled their ideas at Hunter iF’s Startup Xpress pitch event at the Sydney Start-up Hub on 17 June.

Richard Christian, Project Coordinator at Hunter iF, said most people associated the Hunter region with gourmet getaways. “What isn’t common knowledge is that the region has been leveraging its position as Australia’s largest regional economy with an unmatched lifestyle to develop an entrepreneurial knowledge-based economy producing a range of world-class innovations and businesses.

“This group of six breakthrough entrepreneurs were selected to showcase the types of world-class businesses that are being produced within our newly emerging innovation hotspot,” he said.

According to Hunter iF, the Hunter region, about 120km north of Sydney, is home to more than 50 start-ups and 10 co-working spaces. It’s also home to several established big players in industry and research, including CSIRO’s Energy Centre, the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI), the University of Newcastle, aerospace giant Boeing Defence Australia, and BAE Systems which is supporting Australia’s first F-35 Joint Strike Fighters’ entry into service with the Royal Australian Air Force.

Dr Sean Wise, a Canadian entrepreneur expert and business speaker who attended the start-up festival in Sydney, said “I was impressed by the region. For such a nascent ecosystem, Newcastle has more great start-ups than I would have expected”.

Gemma Chilton

Author: Gemma Chilton

Gemma has a degree in journalism from the University of Technology, Sydney and spent a semester studying environmental journalism in Denmark. She has been writing about science and engineering for over a decade.

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