Melbourne better at start-ups and connections: Google's Leeder
At the first RMIT Business Breakfast for 2013, Google’s Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand, Mr Nick Leeder gave more than 100 representatives of business, government, academia and the media an outline of how we can work together to build Australia’s digital economy.
The event, supported by veski, Ernst & Young and RMIT University, focused on innovation and the digital economy, and drew upon Mr Leeder’s work with Google to champion the creation of Australia’s very own 'Silicon Valley' or 'Silicon Beach' as he refers to it.
In his presentation, which was followed by a number of questions from venture capitalists, academics and business leaders, Nick reinforced the fact that there is an incredible talent pool in Australia. He said there was particular talent in the engineering space evidenced by Australia being home to one of Google’s largest engineering centres.
As the head of Google in Australia and New Zealand, Nick is extremely interested in where Australia will head next with its digital economy, and says that a report they commissioned in 2010 showed the digital economy was worth $50 billion. A figure he says should be $70 billion by 2015.
The presentation occurred in the same week as the Prime Minister's launch of the Government's Innovation Statement, and Nick Leeder confirmed the importance of high productivity precincts, which were a focus of the Statement.
“We want to make sure Australia is well positioned to take advantage of what comes next … There’s a social, cultural and educational shift underway and we think this is critical in making sure Australia’s well positioned on these fronts”, Nick said.
veski chief executive officer, Ms Julia L Page, concluded the event by reinforcing statements Nick had made in a recent opinion piece about the talent we have at home.
“As the ceo of veski, I’m fortunate enough to engage with talented individuals who have the cultural mindset needed to be part of the globally connected economy,” Ms Page said.
“Our next task is to engage and support these and other talented Australians to build critical mass because as Nick has said ‘we’re big enough to accomplish big things on the world stage, but we're also small enough that even a couple of people with a great idea can have a big impact”.
Nick talked about why Australia needs its own Silicon Valley saying the American area “creates an enormous pool of capability for the whole economy to draw upon. It creates the engineers and the technicians who can help businesses navigate these changes really well”.
Talking about investment and venture capital money, Leeder said while there is money in Australia “the amount of it that ends up going offshore and back through the Valley shows there’s an issue. It’s not a money issue. It’s actually a critical mass issue.”
He said Google finds the start up community lacks some mass and “we (Google) need to find out how universities can better connect in with that community and companies like Google. I think that between the three of those groups we can start to create some mass,” he said.
Another point he raised, which supports veski’s work with the inspiring students and teachers program, was a need to focus on promoting study and careers in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields.
Ms Page said "veski's new inspiring students and teachers program aims to lift the participation rate in the sciences and will hopefully lead to more students continuing studies in the STEM fields."
veski’s support of the RMIT Business Breakfast series, in partnership with Ernst & Young and RMIT University, is part of our efforts to foster discussion and collaboration across the business, government and academic sectors.