SA an ideal model for Industry 4.0 transformation

South Australia is ripe for the challenge to progress as industry and employment enters a state of transformation. The closure of production line automotive manufacturing has signalled a new era, with a raft of local businesses swiftly embracing digital industrialisation as the Industry 4.0 technological revolution quickly gathers global momentum – and several progressive companies emerge as shining lights to lead the way.

This paints an optimistic picture for future jobs and industry opportunities in SA according to Professor John Spoehr, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research Impact) at Flinders University, and director of the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute.

He has seen rapid change to the state’s business and employment landscape during the past three years, propelled by an understanding across local industry that it is now crucial to act swiftly. This is attracting new industry, fresh international investment, new types of employment and new opportunities to the state.

Realising that an employment vacuum could impose widespread economic damage to a city – with former automotive towns such as Detroit providing an ominous example – Prof Spoehr says Adelaide is proving itself a nimble adaptor of technological innovations to drive new industry.

Professor John Spoehr says Adelaide is adapting to technological innovations to drive new industry.

Running apace with international development levels is ensuring that more opportunities for high-skill, high-pay employment is already occurring.

“Any fears that a digitised workforce must imply a jobless future is not the reality facing SA’s workforce,” says Prof Spoehr.

“It’s a time of great possibility and progress, and SA can provide a model for successful industrial transformation in Australia.”

Prof Spoehr examines this as editor and co-writer of South Australia – State of Transformation, a new book that issues an independent assessment of SA’s current economic, social and political landscape, while also exploring options and policy needs to lay the strongest possible path ahead.

He points to the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies in manufacturing by such companies as Micro-X, based at the Tonsley Innovation District, which is manufacturing lightweight portable X-ray machines (primarily used in disaster zones and emergency situations).

It has quickly won international orders for its products, and to meet demand the company has employed and re-trained many former Holden workers, building on their skill set to quickly provide Micro-X with an experienced and capable hi-tech manufacturing workforce.

“Micro-X has been very clever to make best use of an already skilled workforce of former Holden employees, showing how to be nimble at harnessing local skills, people and resources,” says Prof Spoehr. “For a young company, it has a very bright future.”

Inside Micro-X’s manufacturing facility at Tonsley Innovation District, a former automotive factory. Photo: Micro-X.

Redarc at Lonsdale, which manufactures advanced electronics that specialise in increased towing safety for off-road and heavy vehicles, has been one of the state’s most enthusiastic adopters of Industry 4.0 manufacturing technology.

The company’s transformation during the past 18 months under chief executive Anthony Kittel has been remarkable, resulting in collaborative robots being part of a holistic manufacturing plant expansion.

“These companies are addressing technically complex problems, and as a consequence they are generating high-skill, knowledge intensive and high wage jobs,” says Prof Spoehr. “This is the form of employment that we need more of to help underpin high living standards in SA.”

SAGE Automation, a leader in systems integration, automation solutions and data services to industry, is working across a raft of different industries, including defence, mining, transportation, logistics, utilities and manufacturing. Prof Spoehr says SAGE is helping local companies to take advantage of the digital revolution.

He notes that SAGE’s location within the Tonsley Innovation District has been transformative for the company, providing great benefits through its proximity to other innovative tech companies along with Flinders University researchers and leading students, with whom it has entered numerous collaborations.

A bird’s eye view (Dec, 2017) of the former Elizabeth Holden site, which has now been transformed into Lionsgate Business Park.

“This shows that the collaborations between universities and companies should be stronger in SA, because this will help accelerate the uptake of innovations in industry – and this is the crucial step forward.”

These leading businesses are also guiding the transition from old manufacturing to dynamic new tech industries and specialist manufacturers at the Tonsley Innovation District and Lionsgate Business Park in Elizabeth, both former automotive manufacturing plants.

The success of these districts also points to a promising pathway for current development of a new hi-tech industry hub at Lot Fourteen, within the former Royal Adelaide Hospital site in Adelaide.

“It shows that strong commitment and vision can transform sites into advanced manufacturing precincts,” says Prof Spoehr.

“Manufacturing employment did grow in SA during 2018, but now there has to be double the support for emerging SMEs (Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) to remain at the cutting edge of what is happening globally.

“Australia must be a champion of innovation in both our services and manufacturing sectors – and SA can play a leading role.”

Hello from SA is the global community for South Australians living, working and learning interstate and abroad.

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Thomas Foods links exporting and innovation

Prosperous export businesses don’t succeed by chance. Thomas Foods International has grown to become Australia’s third largest meat producer – and the sector’s largest family owned business – with an annual turnover of about $1.3 billion.

CEO Darren Thomas says this is the result of 40 years’ work in international markets, built around a strong but highly flexible business strategy.

“The goal is not just about establishing export trade, but thinking about the market you are going into, and the relevance of your product in that market,” Darren told a full auditorium at a recent Brand South Australia I Choose SA industry briefing on the trade and investment sector.

Implementing this idea means examining the numbers to understand precisely what your product means to a global market, and this has prompted Thomas Foods to move far beyond its original business of meat processing and distribution.

Thomas Foods’ original business was in meat processing and distribution.

“Australia cannot feed the world,” says Darren.

“We can produce enough food to feed about 60 million people, and the markets we are already exporting to have a population of three billion people, so therefore we are always going to be a boutique producer, no matter how much the company grows in size and reach.

“This understanding was behind our very first decision, which was to concentrate on premium products.”

Darren says a key to export success, which now represents about 80% of Thomas Foods International’s business, has been through investing directly in markets where Thomas Foods International is trading.

It has built infrastructure and distribution hubs in the US, entered business partnerships with foreign companies and purchased several others to establish a solid beachhead in 85 key international markets – from Dubai and Cairo, to South America, Shanghai and Tokyo.

Recently Thomas Foods International purchased a company in the Netherlands, which had been a long-term customer, strengthening the company’s position in Europe.

“If you want to succeed in other countries, you have to get closer to the customer – there is no other way,” says Darren.

The expansion of Thomas Foods International also signals that progress depends on being reactive to what happens in the market, rather than staying fixated on your existing products.

With this in mind, Darren says he is aware that selling traditional boxes of meat will eventually be phased out altogether, which is why Thomas Foods International is a keen and active participant in emerging e-commerce technology and marketing strategies.

“You have to keep asking yourself how you remain relevant,” says Darren. “It’s crucial to keep abreast of technological changes in your sector, to know what your opposition is doing in the same competitive space, and to understand what your customer’s customer wants.

“We need to read and understand consumer habits and preferences, to embrace change in the marketplace as it happens.”

This has seen the company expand to include food retail label Thomas Farms, meat wholesaler Holco, ready-to-cook meal business Thomas Farms Kitchen, and sustainable seafood export business Thomas Cappo Seafoods, a collaboration with Cappo Seafood.

Some of these businesses have taken off internationally in ways that don’t happen in Australia – such as surging US popularity in prepared meals.

Thomas Foods Fresh Produce is Australian owned and Australian grown.

This underlines the need for an expansive exporting company to have separate businesses that can react swiftly to how customers evolve and buying trends erupt in different markets.

Darren has noticed that leading global tech companies dominating the retail sector – Alibaba and Amazon – are now investing in new-style bricks and mortar retail shops that have hi-tech purchasing models, with the first checkout-free Amazon Go shop now operating in Seattle.

This has inspired the company to trial new food packaging and marketing ideas in South Australia first. Eight months ago, Thomas Foods combined with Tony and Mark’s grocery stores and Uber Eats to introduce the world’s first home-delivered fresh food packs, providing ingredients for chef-designed, ready-to-cook meals via a phone or online instant delivery service.

It’s an innovation that Darren believes will soon find traction in the international market, and therefore give his company a competitive advantage.

“It’s a snapshot of opportunities that can exist,” he says, “so it’s important to get out and have a go.”

Such progress is a powerful positive statement from a company that was hit by an unexpected disaster when a fire destroyed its Murray Bridge abattoir and meat processing works in January 2018.

The company has underlined its firm commitment to rebuild in Murray Bridge, and is looking to invest in next-generation technology to improve cost-effectiveness and efficiency.

Darren says that taking this approach reinforces that Adelaide will always be home base for the company.

“There need to be improvements – especially for governments to knock down existing trade barriers if we are going to grow further – but we have a strong platform in SA to build a strong export business on,” says Darren.

“We are very confident of the future. I believe we can afford to be bullish in our business forecasts.”

Industry in focus: Trade and Investment

Throughout the months of January and February, the state’s trade and investment industry will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is in a prime position for trade and investment opportunities as we have a 24-hour connection to international markets and a prime reputation for our premium products and services.  Read more trade and investment stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Axiom is moulding a new manufacturing future

In his 12 years working with Axiom Precision Manufacturing, Shannon Wride has seen a transformation in the way the business operates.

“We’ve strived to take on that high end work, and as a company we’ve always tried to do the jobs other people say they can’t do,” says the company’s operations supervisor and Brand South Australia’s latest I Choose SA ambassador.

“We’ve had people come to us saying no one else is willing to touch this and we’re always willing to give it a crack.”

When Shannon started out with Axiom as an apprentice in 2006 the company was then called Diemould Tooling and was based in Edwardstown, the work focused around the state’s automotive industry in producing plastic injection moulds.

As automotive work slowed down and China began taking over an increasing slice of the sector’s manufacturing pie, the SA-owned company took stock and began looking to change the way it operated.

The business began courting defence and aerospace companies and, eventually, new jobs began to roll into the workshops.

Axiom Precision Manufacturing operations supervisor Shannon Wride is an I Choose SA ambassador for the advanced manufacturing industry.

Before long, Diemould Tooling was merged with Numetric Manufacturers in Wingfield and the company renamed Axiom Precision Manufacturing.

Now the family owned business that started in 1979 works extensively on high-end metal component design and manufacturing jobs for the aerospace and defence industries.

It has worked hard to achieve AS9100 accreditation – meaning its quality system meets top level aerospace requirements, and the business has its highest ever staff numbers at about 60.

There are also plans to further develop land owned by the company next door to its Wingfield site, where its purpose-built manufacturing facility, delivering special purpose equipment, tooling and injection moulded components, is based.

It’s been a remarkable turnaround for a company relatively new to the nation’s defence industry. And it’s one that saw the company win a 2016 Defence Industry award for Most Outstanding Small-Medium Enterprise from the state’s Defence Teaming Centre.

The award recognised how it had excelled in engaging with the defence industry “to build their capability and to work in defence”.

Shannon, who first completed a four-year tool making apprenticeship, is now in charge of “day-to-day operations”, scheduling machine loadings and overseeing the inspection department.

He is in charge of “trouble shooting” and ensures orders reach customers on time with Shannon saying the company’s client base stretches across Australia.

He says one of the jobs he’s proudest of overseeing involves making moulds for a device that protects frontline defence forces from bomb detonations.

Shannon went through a four-year tool making apprenticeship and now works in an SA company that is taking advantage of the state’s growing advanced manufacturing sector.

“We’ve heard first-hand from people who have come in and seen these devices work in the field,” Shannon says.

“It’s saved lives, just hearing that is so rewarding, we are contributing to the protection of our defence forces.”

The company’s capabilities in precision machining also has seen it selected to manufacture components for space projects, from world class telescopes to high precision components supplied to Orbital ATK.

This space company manufactured fuel cells that launched the space shuttles to the International Space Station.

Axiom also makes components for the Australian Collins Class Submarines, ranging from precision-machined engine components to electronic hardware and the manufacture of tooling for battery components.

And it has a decade of experience in manufacturing medical devices and components including producing bone plates, dental implant components and specialised surgical equipment.

It’s this range of work – from defence to mining, food and beverage and medical devices industries – that’s kept Shannon committed to his role in a company that is not only growing but also taking on apprentices to train staff for high-end manufacturing in the future.

The business currently has three in-house apprentices and is looking to have another start next year with Shannon saying the state has a bright future.

“We hear that manufacturing in SA has been through a rough time but the ones who have managed to diversify early enough, we are booming, we haven’t had a quiet spell in years,” he says.

“And we’re attractive as employers, we’ve got a guy working here from South Africa and he picked SA because of the liveability and cheaper housing and with talk of the state being a defence hub as well.”

I Choose SA for Advanced Manufacturing stories are made possible by City of Salisbury:

Industry in focus: Advanced Manufacturing

Throughout the month of September, the state’s advanced manufacturing industry will be under the magnifying glass as part of I Choose SA.

As SA transforms away from traditional manufacturing processes, innovative and sophisticated products and services are taking their place, creating new jobs and investment opportunities for the state. Read more stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Micro-X workforce is proof of life after automotive industry

Under the roof of the former Mitsubishi Motors assembly plant at Tonsley in Adelaide’s south, about a dozen ex-Holden workers are busy manufacturing x-ray systems that are the first of their kind in the world.

Manufacturing a Holden Commodore and a lightweight x-ray imaging system are, for obvious reasons, worlds apart, but according to Micro-X managing director Peter Rowland, company culture is the same.

When Peter was preparing to shift the relatively new Micro-X from Victoria to South Australia in 2015, he phoned the general manager of Holden’s Elizabeth factory which was headed for closure in two years’ time.

“I said ‘look, I’m setting up this company and my strategy is that I want to import the culture and practices of good manufacturing within the auto industry and I want to recruit some of your best and finest workers’,” he says.

“It’s all about the culture, it’s not just the skills that drives attention to detail, the quality, and the search for better, cheaper, simpler and faster ways to produce high quality products.

Inside Micro-X’s manufacturing facility.

“There is no other industry on earth that makes such a complicated thing as a motorcar as cost effectively and with such high quality as the auto industry.”

Micro-X received a loan from the former Labor State Government to set up operations in SA, choosing Tonsley’s Main Assembly Building (MAB) as the site where it would manufacture lightweight x-ray systems for the medical, defence and airport security sectors.

Former Holden worker Adam Williams was recruited as Micro-X’s first official employee and has since helped grow the business which now has a workforce of 36 and is on the cusp of expansion.

Micro-X’s lightweight x-ray imaging systems are expected to create better outcomes for imaging systems in the medical and military fields, with the company working with the Australian and UK defence forces.

Its DRX-Revolution Nano Mobile X-ray System is designed for Carestream Health Inc of Rochester, New York, an international x-ray systems giant.

The Nano uses world-first technology developed by the University of North Carolina and sourced by Micro-X’s partner XinRay Systems in which Micro-X has a 30% share.

The Nano weighs under 100kg making it more easily transportable around hospitals than the industry’s standard x-ray machines.

The mobile x-ray system is easily transported around hospitals and intensive care units, as it weighs under 100kg which is considerably lighter than the industry standard of about 600kg.

“It’s smaller, simpler and cheaper  … and it’s the first of this technology anywhere in the world. We are the first ones who have made it into a device, got regulatory approvals, and brought it to the market, it’s a global first for SA,” Peter says.

Micro-X is also developing a lightweight, digital mobile x-ray system, the Rover, through a contract with the Australian Defence Force.

The medical imager is designed for use in military deployed medical field hospitals, humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

The Rover is for use in military deployed hospital fields.

From this contract came another, to produce a bench-top prototype of the Mobile Backscatter Imager (MBI), a standoff imaging system for detection of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Peter says the MBI has “superman vision” allowing it to take a high resolution image of IEDs from a distance, reducing risks to explosive experts.

“We’ve proven that it works and now we’re talking to bomb disposal people not only in Australia but in the US too, we’re developing that product as we speak.”

Aside from the Nano, Rover and MBI, Micro-X is also working on the development of a lightweight x-ray system to detect explosives hidden in electronics at airports.

The majority of Micro-X products are sold outside of Australia by the company’s 6.5% shareholder, Carestream Health Inc.

Micro-X is undergoing a $7m expansion at the Tonsley Innovation District.

However, Peter says a couple of SA hospitals already have their eye on the mobile x-ray units, and that in 10 years’ time it will be hard to find a hospital in Adelaide that hasn’t adopted a Micro-X product.

To cater for the demand for its products and growth of its operations, the business is undergoing a $7m expansion of its facilities at Tonsley.

With the help of a $2.4 million Advanced Manufacturing Grant from the Federal Government, Micro-X will double the size of its current footprint, and also take up a separate 600sqm space still under Tonsley’s MAB roof.

The company also plans to recruit additional staff over the next 12 months and grow to about 50 employees.

“Two years from now we’re going to be manufacturing backscatter imagers and airport imagers, as well as a huge volume of mobile x-rays,” Peter says.

“And it’s all happening from Adelaide.”

I Choose SA for Advanced Manufacturing stories are made possible by City of Salisbury:

Industry in focus: Advanced Manufacturing

Throughout the month of September, the state’s advanced manufacturing industry will be under the magnifying glass as part of I Choose SA.

As SA transforms away from traditional manufacturing processes, innovative and sophisticated products and services are taking their place, creating new jobs and investment opportunities for the state. Read more stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Overheard at Entrepreneurs Week 2018

More than 400 innovators poured into the Adelaide Convention Centre on Monday, July 9, to reign in Entrepreneurs Week 2018, the fourth annual installation of the event.

There were app developers, business founders, health professionals, scientists, CEOs, PhD students, and educators from South Australia and abroad all soaking up the wisdoms, teachings and inspirations on offer.

Continuing until Friday July 13 (and spilling a little into the following week) Entrepreneurs Week explores new technologies, workspaces, and why social entrepreneurship may be the most important of them all.

Brand SA News was there to soak up the pearls of wisdom, and here are a few.

South Australia is impressive, there are incredible companies here. I think SA is one of the leaders, if not the leader in just pure entrepreneurial spirit. – Chris Adams, former Facebook insider and Entrepreneurs Week keynote speaker.

Entrepreneurial schools are coming to SA

Four public schools will become entrepreneurial hotbeds, teaching students creativity, problem solving and collaboration.

“We will have specialist entrepreneur schools where you will see real life entrepreneur activity and very strong relationships developed with industry and the private sector,” Minister for Industry and Skills David Pisoni told the Entrepreneurs Week opening event on May 9.

The four schools will be chosen later this year and are expected to help set the course for the state’s next generation of entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurship will also be added to the school curriculum, Mr Pisoni says.

“The SACE board is at this moment developing an entrepreneurial curriculum to be rolled out in our high schools,” he says.

“So every high school in SA, whether it be in the private sector or the public sector, will have access to the entrepreneurial curriculum.”

The old Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) site is one to watch

The State Government has big plans for the old hospital, which closed in 2017 following the opening of the city’s world-class new RAH in 2017.

Part of the vision for the North Terrace/Frome Road site includes an innovation and start-up hub for entrepreneurs and businesses.

The precinct will be a place for the generation of new ideas and technology within sectors such as defence, cyber security, space, food and wine, medical technology, robotics, and creative industries.

Mr Pisoni says that 2000 people will be working for businesses in the entrepreneurial precinct by this time next year.

“Certainly the heritage buildings on that site (are) being converted into the largest innovation and entrepreneur centre in Australia where we will see a mix of start-ups and high-tech companies,” he says.

“Within a decade we want our state to have the highest number of start-up businesses in the nation.”

July is the entrepreneur’s version of Mad March.

You thought the festival season was only in March, right?

Not quite. July is also getting its fair share of festivities with the calendar of events an entrepreneurial playground.

Aside from Entrepreneur’s Week, we have Hybrid World, Avcon, the Umbrella Winter Sounds Festival, The Adelaide Festival of Ideas, the Adelaide Dance Festival and the Joint Dance Congress.

Acting Adelaide Mayor Sandy Verschoor sums it up well.

“I think we can look forward to what’s happening now which is a bit of winter renaissance,” she says.

“This month is going to be absolutely huge.”

The entrepreneurial game is full of lessons, including failure.

Former Facebook insider Chris Adams was a keynote speaker at the Entrepreneurs Week opening event.

He shared highlights of his extensive career so far, including how he created and produced the first user-generated reality TV series, Facebook Diaries, which lead to the launch of the Facebook ‘share’ button.

He shared an insight into what it’s really like to become an entrepreneur from the ground up.

“If you are going to fail, fail spectacularly. Fail as quickly as you can but make it part of your story,” he says.

“Someday you’ll look back when you tell your story at whatever point in your life, and that failure will be like the hero’s journey, a challenge, something on the curve in which you found yourself, an incident that changed your path.”

Chris also believes that to reach success you must lay the groundwork.

“Every time we build a company or join a company, we’re looking at the $20m house with marble floors. We look at the interior design and the lighting, the taps in the bathroom,” he says.

“Planning – it’s the boring stuff and the stuff we don’t see that supports what we do see. So put your dreams in the $20m house, in the beautiful taps and the Mercedes, but put your work into the slab.”

Entrepreneurs Week keynote speaker Chris Adams at the opening event.

Entrepreneurs come from all walks of life and abilities

Social entrepreneur Dr Guy Turnbull, who was named UK Entrepreneur of the Year, is in SA to inspire budding innovators and business founders on what it takes to make it in the game.

The Entrepreneurs Week keynote speaker was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was two, and has exercised his entrepreneurial skills his whole life.

“When I make myself a cup of tea … although it takes a bit longer I haven’t burnt myself in 52 years. So it’s about ingenuity and that again is another entrepreneurial trait,” says the former managing director of Care And Share Associates (CASA).

“Entrepreneurs come from many different sectors, and many different walks of life, and from many different abilities.”

We’re kicking goals when it comes to female entrepreneurship

SA is home to a community of female entrepreneurs with global ambitions.

Look at Italian rocket scientist Flavia Tata Nardini, who came to Adelaide for love after meeting her engineering husband who is from SA.

She now runs Fleet Space Technologies and is one of the people behind the push for SA to become Australia’s space technology hub.

Flavia, along with a number of other local female entrepreneurs, shared their insights at the Entrepreneurs Week Celebrating SA’s Female Founders session.

Did you overhear something worth sharing? Let us know on Twitter #EWeekSA2018

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Is Adelaide poised to become the mecca of start-ups?

Adelaide’s talent pool of thinkers, its world-class universities and gigabit speed internet networks make it the ultimate breeding ground for start-up business and budding entrepreneurs, says TechInSA’s Dr Judy Halliday.

The director of industry development and Hybrid World Adelaide LAB mentor says the city’s small-town environment also works in favour of entrepreneurs wanting to connect with the right people.

“I think there are a number of advantages in South Australia,” says Dr Halliday who has been with start-up support agency TechInSA, born from the former State Government’s bioscience agency, since 2016.

“There is high quality talent here as well as world-class universities, and there’s a lot of defence related work going on.

“Adelaide has that small enough but big enough thing going on … in the bigger cities it’s a bit more competitive.”

TechInSA’s Dr Judy Halliday.

Dr Halliday has more than 25 years’ experience working in technology commercialisation and innovation and has helped raise millions of dollars for start-up businesses.

She says the gigabit speed internet networks – GigCity and Ten Gigabit Adelaide – are a huge advantage over other cities, particularly in the gaming and virtual reality (VR) sector.

“GigCity is really important for supporting start-ups and technology development in VR, AR (augmented reality) and the creative and gaming space,” Dr Halliday says.

“But also our universities are world-class and the biomedical precinct on North Terrace is a great aggregation of a lot of intensive, useful and really cutting-edge health sector related opportunities.

“There are many real strengths.”

Born overseas and moving to Australia in the 1980s, Dr Halliday built her career as an inventor, founder, investor, academic and industry professional in Brisbane.

Before moving to SA she was non-executive director of a company in the US state of Georgia, Que Oncology, which ended up raising $16m in a Series A round.

Dr Halliday says she was lured to SA by its burgeoning innovation ecosystem.

“I could see that there was a deliberate intention to support the innovation ecosystem in SA, and I thought that was a terrific opportunity,” she says.

“I was really attracted to the opportunity to be here and get involved very early on in the ecosystem in SA, which is world class.”

Thebarton-based TechInSA works with start-up companies and entrepreneurs to bring their innovations to global markets.

The agency provides grants, programs, business and marketing assistance, lab and office spaces and access to international networks.

Since late 2016, TechInSA has assisted more than 150 start-ups in business advice, networking, and marketing.

“TechInSA’s broad aim is to provide support for early stage commercialisation of technologies developed in SA,” Dr Halliday says.

“Recently we were involved in taking four SA founders to London Tech Week to help expose them to global markets.

“We’re there to support companies and founders that have a global intention … it’s about building sustainable businesses for SA’s future.”

TechInSA’s success stories include Adelaide space start-up business Myriota, which recently raised US$15m through a number of venture funds.

Dr Halliday says the support and services TechInSA provides helps fast track a business’ success.

“It’s really about getting more quickly to a point whether that be getting a product to a customer, getting an investor or supply chain partner, or in some cases it’s about knowing whether this idea, product or service is going to succeed or fail,” she says.

Hybrid World Adelaide creative director Robert Tercek on stage at the HWA conference.

Later this month, Dr Halliday will be involved in Hybrid World Adelaide (HWA), a digital entertainment and technology event that celebrates tech culture in the state.

As a HWA LAB mentor, Judy will assist 15 finalists in developing their projects, pitches and ideas.

The finalists, to be revealed next week, will come together over two days.

“It’s a fairly intensive opportunity to meet with many mentors who have experience in a number of different industries, to pressure test their idea, business plan or go to market strategy,” Dr Halliday says.

“It’s an opportunity to ask lots of questions and hear what is often confronting feedback from mentors to help them really make their business leaner and meaner.

“It’s not often that you have access to many high-quality mentors in a short amount of time.”

HWA runs from July 20-24. Click here to check out the program.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Behind the success of South Australia’s female founders

From life-changing IVF technology to rocket science – South Australia is home to a community of female entrepreneurs with global ambitions.

The spotlight will be on a handful of the state’s brightest and boldest female founders at this year’s Entrepreneurs Week, which kicks off on Monday, July 9.

The Celebrating SA’s Female Founders session – part of the opening event – will bring together some of the state’s most inspiring female entrepreneurs to share their stories and encourage other women to take similar pathways.

In Australia women represent only 34% of entrepreneurs, but the number of female entrepreneurs is growing at a faster rate than men.

Facilitated by Chooks SA founder and director Moira Deslandes, the female founders panel includes internationally renowned health expert Dr Michelle Perugini, rocket scientist Flavia Tata Nardini, Sarah Gun of GOGO Events and GOGO Labour Hire and Louise Nobes of KIK Innovation.

Brand SA News caught up with some of the panellists to discover their secrets to success.

Fleet Space Technologies CEO and I Choose SA ambassador Flavia Tata Nardini.

Female Founder #1
Flavia Tata Nardini, co-founder and CEO of Fleet Space Technologies

Flavia Tata Nardini is an Italian rocket scientist who came to Adelaide for love after meeting her engineer husband Stefani Landi, who is from SA. She is one of the faces behind the push for the state to become the nation’s space technology hub. Flavia founded Fleet Space Technologies alongside space entrepreneur Matthew Pearson in 2015.

1. How did you get to where you are?
“The world is becoming more connected by the day. I noticed this back in 2015, and along with my co-founders, I saw there was an opportunity to create an industry to help connect the billions of devices that are set to come online.

“Together, we saw the value that a nanosatellite-based network could change the way that businesses in major industries operate. So we set off.

“In 2018, Fleet Space Technologies began selling The Portal — our flagship product that enables businesses to connect hundreds of devices to private, secure and Low Power Wide Area Networks anywhere around the world, at a fraction of the cost of traditional satellite systems, making it far more efficient and worthwhile for remote enterprises to run IoT networks.

“The Portal is set to transform billion-dollar industries, from precision agriculture on isolated rural farms in Africa, lone worker safety applications in remote Canada, to maritime monitoring in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

“Later this year, the first of Fleet Space Technologies’ nanosatellites will be launched aboard Indian Space Agency and SpaceX rockets.”

2. Why is it important to showcase the success of SA’s female founders and to encourage other entrepreneurial women to follow similar pathways?

“South Australia is making positive movements toward creating a STEM industry that is conducive to women’s success.

“It is so important to spark young women’s imaginations and interest in STEM at an early age, and I’ve been really pleased with the increase in STEM programs for females in schools in our state.

“The government recognises that increasing opportunities for women STEM is essential for the economy, for gender equality and for maximising innovation, creativity, and competitiveness in the workforce.”

Life Whisperer co-founder and I Choose SA ambassador Dr Michelle Perugini.

Female Founder #2
Dr Michelle Perugini, co-founder of Life Whisperer

Dr Michelle Perugini is a stem cell biologist-turned-entrepreneur whose Adelaide-based start-up has helped develop cutting edge technology that will improve IVF couples’ chances at having children.

Life Whisperer was launched in February 2017 by Dr Perugini, her husband Dr Don Perugini and business partner Dr Jonathan Hall.

1. How did you get to where you are?

“Blood, sweat, and tears. I started off as a stem cell biologist for 10 years and then founded my first AI business with my husband Don.

“This business, ISD Analytics, was in predictive analytics and behavioural modelling and we developed a global AI product that was sold into six industry sectors in multiple international markets including the US and Europe.

“ISD Analytics was acquired by Ernst and Young in 2015 and we remained there following the acquisition for just over a year.

“After the acquisition we wanted to give back to the start up community and started mentoring in accelerators and commercialisation programs including the Adelaide University eChallenge.

“That’s where I met Dr Jonathan Hall, a physics PhD who was working with the fertility group at the uni and conceived the idea of being able to non-invasively image IVF embryos to help pick the most viable ones to transfer to patients, with the intent of improving IVF success rates and helping infertile couples have children.

“I was immediately drawn to the idea and it was very well matched with our respective skill sets and technical and commercial experience so we founded Life Whisperer to solve this problem.

“We conducted a clinical study with Monash IVF to test the concept and showed a 30% accuracy improvement of our approach when compared to world-leading experts.

“We are now conducting trials in USA, Malaysia, and soon in UK, UAE, and Canada. The product is expected to be out to market later this year.”

2. Why is it important to showcase the success of SA’s female founders and to encourage other entrepreneurial women to follow similar pathways?

“There are many outstanding entrepreneurs in SA female and male alike who deserve recognition and support.

“There are however, a significant number of female entrepreneurs coming to the fore that bring a different dimensionality and value proposition to the start up ecosystem.”

Sarah Gun of GOGO Events and GOGO Labour Hire.

Female Founder #3
Sarah Gun, founder and social enterprise director of GOGO Events and GOGO Labour Hire

Sarah built her career in SA, becoming a much sought after event stylist for corporate, government and non-profit organisations.

Her business GOGO Events allows people experiencing homelessness to access paid work by producing decor items, and event materials, providing hospitality and packing down events.

The social enterprise has worked with a range of high profile clients including the South Australian Museum, Toyota Australia, Australian Hotels Association, CARA and Food SA.

In 2016 Sarah and GOGO won an award in Austin, Texas, for the Most Innovative Social Enterprise at the South by South West Interactive Festival.

1. How did you get to where you are?

GOGO Events started in 2000 as a normal for-profit business which I turned into a purpose-driven business in 2012. This meant that I made a conscious decision to value the business’ social impact over its profit making capability.

I think business can be a way to reach equality in society. In the last five-and-a-half years we have created 650 client experiences for our staff.

It’s not just about the work, but it’s about allowing our team to re-identify with something other than homelessness. It lifts their self esteem and the feedback we get is that it makes them feel worthwhile. We all want play a part in the world in which we live.

2. Why is it important to showcase the success of SA’s female founders and to encourage other entrepreneurial women to follow similar pathways?

I think that overwhelmingly, female-led businesses here are still somewhat invisible. I think individual women are celebrated but businesses as a whole, not so much.

We have to have a strong ecosystem but there aren’t enough women in that space yet, particularly in investment areas. However, we are very good at collaborating.

We need to celebrate and recognise the success, and build a community of women. Also, many women have social enterprises – opposed to mainstream enterprises – and that’s something that needs to shift.

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PixelForce is one Fast Mover

It’s a classic success story: the university assignment that turns into a start-up business run from a garage.

That’s how it went for web developer Hinney Lo, whose classroom venture became one of South Australia’s fastest growing businesses, PixelForce.

The Adelaide-based studio is now one of the city’s most trusted web designer and app developers, with a client list that includes South Australian fitness guru Kayla Itsines.

PixelForce’s rapid climb to success in a relatively short space of time – seven years – has now seen the business become a finalist in BDO and Brand South Australia’s Fast Movers South Australia 2018 program.

The program recognises the fastest growing and most innovative small to medium enterprises in the state, and winners will be announced this Friday.

To qualify, businesses must have a registered head office in SA and achieve a minimum turnover of $200,000 a year for the past three years, among other criteria.

“We are genuine and just try to be ourselves,” Hinney says.

“When we first meet our clients, we don’t promise them anything we’re not confident we can deliver, and we give genuine, honest feedback on the idea and concept.”

Hinney Lo is PixelForce’s managing director.

PixelForce’s 26 employees, ranging from high level designers to software engineers and project managers, work out of a Glen Osmond Road studio, designing and developing websites and mobile phone apps.

The business sprouted from humble beginnings when Hinney and a university classmate created a mock business as part of a final year project.

As a result, PixelForce Digital was born in 2011, with the uni pair offering web design services to the public.

Client demand soon grew and the business moved from the garage to an office along the popular nightspot Hindley Street.

“It was chaos to be honest,” Hinney laughs.

“But we landed a great client – Wokinabox – which had an office on West Terrace.

“Their marketing manager was walking along Hindley Street and saw us, walked in and we had a chat.”

Undertaking website and app development for the fast food eatery, PixelForce continued to build relationships with various SA businesses.

Hinney’s friend and now technical director Ben Zhang came on board and PixelForce Digital amended its name to PixelForce Systems.

By 2015 the business, now known simply as PixelForce, had build a core team of senior app developers.

The team secured a high profile client – Instagram fitness guru Kayla Itsines and delivered the workout and meal planning app, Sweat with Kayla.

The fitness star and her fiancé Tobi Pearce, who have built a global health empire worth $63m, placed at number 40 on the 2017 Young Rich List.

In 2016 PixelForce launched Kayla’s newest app, SWEAT.

“When we first met Kayla and Tobi, they were already really successful,” says Hinney.

“But they came to us because they wanted to build their app.

“We were chosen as a supplier and we’ve been a part of their success, so we’re really proud of that.”

Most of PixelForce’s clients are start-ups and entrepreneurs but it has also worked with larger entities such as Angove Family Winemakers, the South Australian Liberal Party and Adelaide City Council.

Hinney says 90% of PixelForce’s employees are recruited through an internship program.

“A lot of graduates come to us to work as interns and that’s a great way to pick our employees,” Hinney says.

“We train them from the beginning.”

Hinney is originally from Hong Kong and came to Australia at the age of 15.

He studied at the University of Adelaide initially achieving a bachelor’s degree in design studies before taking on a Master of Design in digital media.

Hinney says he chose Adelaide to be the home of PixelForce because of the city’s relaxed lifestyle and its support of emerging businesses.

“We really like the environment and vibe here,” he says.

“Melbourne and Sydney are too big, and Hong Kong is like that as well.

“That was one reason why I came to SA, it’s a bit more relaxed and there are a lot more opportunities here for start-up businesses.

“South Australia gives start-ups a try.”

PixelForce is among the 25 nominees for the Fast Movers SA 2018 awards, announced on Friday, May 25 at a gourmet breakfast at Adelaide Oval.

Tickets are available now, click here to purchase.

Header photo is Hinney Lo, left, and PixelForce technical director Ben Zhang.

Barossa Fine Foods rolls out big plans for 2018

Smallgoods producer Barossa Fine Foods is facing big changes in 2018, taking on another renowned SA business, undergoing a packaging rebrand and celebrating its 100-year-old family history.

Barossa Fine Foods, which has a long-standing retail presence across SA, announced today it has acquired 58-year-old seafood brand Angelakis Bros.

The company says it has acquired an agreement with Angelakis, officially taking over on May 4 and continuing with no disruptions.

The announcement comes a week after Barossa Fine Foods revealed plans to overhaul its branding and packaging to celebrate the Knoll family history and prepare the name for “rapid national expansion”.

Fourth generation family member and Barossa Fine Foods development manager, Alex Knoll, says the company is looking to have a larger presence in the eastern states.

“We’re approaching 100 years since my great uncle, Andreas Knoll, first ventured into the area of smallgoods and started a dynasty that, through various iterations both in Germany and SA, is now Barossa Fine Foods,” he says.

“With this milestone looming – and with us looking to gain a stronger foothold in the eastern seaboard states of NSW, QLD and VIC – we thought it timely to refresh our branding, and at the same time, have a bit of fun by sharing our history in a series of light-hearted back stories featured on our packaged goods.”

The company says the rebranding will also drive a large push into the burgeoning markets of Asia, while stimulating the local economy, creating new jobs and offering current workers greater opportunities.

It is understood the new packaging will hit the shelves from May.

The new packaging will be on shelves in May.

It will have a “consistent look and feel” across its 100g sliced range of more than 20 products, its 300g cooked sausages, 500g fresh sausages, pâté, kabana and ambient products.

Alex says that while the family prides itself on being progressive, innovative and forward-thinking, upholding tradition was paramount.

“So, while the brand identity has evolved to more accurately reflect a thriving 21st Century business with strong family traditions, we remain true to our high-quality award-winning products and artisan production standards as well as sourcing as many local ingredients as we can,” he says.

Barossa Fine Foods’ origins date back to post WW1 Germany when 15-year-old apprentice Andreas Knoll mixed his first leberwurst at a small goods factory in Munich in 1924.

The Barossa Fine Foods family.

The brand we know today was born in the early 1990s when third-generation Franz and Barbra Knoll purchased an existing business of the same name in the Adelaide Central Market.

Barossa Fine Foods currently employs 250 people across nine retail outlets throughout the state and in Victoria and has almost 300 stockists nationwide.

With its factory based at Edinburgh North, the company has some 600 products from hams, bacon, sausages and other Bavarian treats.

Barossa Fine Foods also runs Standom Smallgoods and Schulz Butchers at Angaston.

Visit I Choose SA to find out how you can support our state by choosing South Australian businesses, products and services.

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Wallis Cinemas still making magic after all these years

Wallis Cinemas boss Lorna Wallis’ first date with the man who would later become her husband was sitting in the rows of the Capri Theatre, in Adelaide’s inner northern suburbs.

It was the late 1950s, a time when going to the movies was worth getting dressed up for, “gloves and all”.

Lorna, 79, can’t remember the name of the film they watched, but recalls the moment she dropped a box of chocolates Bob had bought her all over the floor.

“Buying a box of chocolates in those days was very expensive and I’d just opened them when I went to get one out and dropped the lot,” she says.

“Bob was very cross. I miss him terribly, it’s been 11 years.”

Wallis Theatres founder Hughie Wallis, second from left.

More than half a century later and Lorna is still walking the foyers of South Australian cinemas, carrying on the legacy of her late husband and the state’s movie man, Bob Wallis.

Bob was the son of Wallis Theatres founder Hughie Wallis, who opened the state’s first drive-in theatre, the Blue Line at West Beach, in 1954.

The opening of the Blue Line theatre sparked the explosion of drive-in culture in SA: teenagers piled into FJ Holdens, speakers hanging from car windows and kids munching on Chiko Rolls in the back seat.

In 1955, the Mainline Drive-In at Gepps Cross opened and is now the only one left in Adelaide.

Hughie died in 1994 aged 84, leaving Bob in charge. But when Bob himself fell ill and passed away in 2007, it was Lorna and their daughter Michelle’s turn to take over.

Lorna and her late husband Bob, son of Wallis Theatres founder, Hughie Wallis.

The cinema chain, now known as Wallis Cinemas, has been making South Australians laugh, cry and everything in between for almost 70 years.

“As long as people still come to the cinemas, that’s what we want,” Lorna says.

“There’s nothing like the big screen, I know there are big TVs now, but there’s nothing quite like a night out at the movies.”

Hughie Wallis had a fascination with photography and filmmaking and laid the foundations of his business when he began screening Hollywood films in community halls across Adelaide.

The opening of the Blue Line at West Beach in the ’50s sparked the establishment of a handful of other Wallis drive-ins and cinemas across metropolitan Adelaide and regional SA.

Its theatres included the Ozone at Glenelg, the Chelsea in Adelaide’s east, a cinema complex in Hindmarsh Square and of course, the Piccadilly in North Adelaide.

Lorna has fond memories of the old theatre, as she grew up around the corner on Childers Street, and would see a film there every Wednesday and Saturday night “with a group of young ones”.

The Piccadilly Cinema in its early days. PHOTO: Cinema Treasures, Brian Pearson. 

She says the Piccadilly Theatre was also Bob’s favourite.

“Bob loved going to the Piccadilly, his funeral was held there,” she says.

“They had on his seat, ‘reserved for Bob’, which was nice.”

Over the decades, the drive-in culture faded and the company closed many of its facilities.

Wallis now employs about 230 people across four cinemas at Mitcham, Piccadilly, Noarlunga, and Mt Barker, as well as the Gepps Cross drive-in. The business recently purchased the Deacons Cinema at Mildura.

Lorna says Wallis Cinemas’ success and longevity in SA as a small-to-medium enterprise is all down to its loyal employees.

“A lot of our staff have been with us for 40 years, so we have very loyal employees. You have to have good people around you. Bob always told me that you’re only as good as the people around you,” she says.

“The patron is number one and we believe in pleasant customer service and cleanliness in our cinemas.”

The Piccadilly Cinemas.

Lorna admits business is tough with competition from larger cinema chains and online streaming giants such as Netflix, causing Wallis to drop its ticket prices by almost 50% last year.

Nonetheless, she says Wallis Cinemas is proud of its SA heritage and its small-scale footprint.

“We’re family. We’re too small to go up against the big guys interstate,” Lorna says.

“I’m proud to be South Australian. I’ve grown up here, my family’s grown up here and I just think we’re a lovely little state.

“You get into these others that get a bit big, but I love it here.”

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