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Velvet Onion Academy tech start-up launch

On Wednesday 25th November I had the pleasure of launching the Velvet Onion Academy at Surry Hills.

Velvet Onion Academy is a self-funded business, owned and run by Charbel Zeaiter, located in the City of Sydney LGA.  Charbel’s aim is to teach people who are working in digital the various disciplines that make up the tech and start-up culture.

As a small business owner of over 30 years I know what it’s like to self-fund a business and to have a vision.  It’s challenging but it’s also exciting to see that vision come to fruition.

As a City of Sydney Councillor I also know that the City is committed to supporting creative and resilient people, just like Charbel – who are growing their businesses, teaching, employing and actively participating in Sydney’s digital and start-up community.

City has noted its role to support the tech ecosystem alongside accelerators, incubators, co-working spaces, universities, and investors and of course multi-disciplinary schools like the Velvet Onion Academy.

I take great pleasure in supporting the tech ecosystem as an Independent Councillor and also as the Deputy Chair of the Economic Development and Business sub-committee.
During August this year The City of Sydney launched its new draft Tech Start-Up Action Plan that outlined how the city could play a meaningful part in the tech start-up community to help it to thrive.

That plan outlined the City’s focus.  That focus is to build a strong entrepreneurial culture and community, create skills and connected entrepreneurs, increase the start-up eco system density, support entrepreneurs’ access to funding and develop technology entrepreneurs’ access to markets.
We also recently supported Syd Start-Up at Sydney Start up Week where thousands of people in the tech start-up community came together at Town Hall to connect, engage, learn and exchange knowledge.

Comments on the draft Tech Start-up Action plan have now closed with the final plan expected to go to Council in 2016.

There have been a number of studies about Australia’s tech start-up community and the numbers are a bit fluid but we can see that in 2012, there were 1,500 Australian firms ranging in 1 or 2 person start-ups created in the previous 12 months to more established businesses that had been around for a decade.

Of these startups, 64% were located in Sydney followed by 24% in Melbourne.

The largest number of startups in Australia were located in the Sydney city centre.  Ultimo was 4th and the Surry Hills/Darlinghurst (where we meet tonight) area was 7th.
Of the estimated 22 incubators or accelerators in Australia, around 10 are also in our local area supporting around 190 companies a year.
The City of Sydney will continue to support the tech start-up community because it’s imperative that we acknowledge that we can’t take our eye off the ball.  We can’t be complacent because want to encourage the best and brightest to stay in Australia, in the City of Sydney and build their businesses, employ people and contribute to the economy.
We can see that Governments across the globe also have the same focus including China, Israel, Germany, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden, The UK & the US and our closest neighbours the Kiwis – they are all encouraging start-ups by offering support and incentives so we must continue to ensure that our policies and government settings get out of the way and let start-ups do what they do best – innovate and grow.

I was very pleased to be able to support Charbel and his venture and I look forward to following their success.

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