SA expat takes good marketing to global stage

With a global CV that rivals her passport for stamps, Helen Ahrens, is a “geotransient” businesswoman and marketer who has worked and studied in Korea, America, New Zealand, Singapore, England, Spain and most recently, Canada. Although, it’s her string of hybrid marketing-business positions that have forged Helen’s ties to Adelaide.

Best known in the mentoring and guest lecturing space, for her presence at Hub Australia, the University of Adelaide’s ThincLab, RMIT University, and Flinders University – she’s become a Global Academic Judge in Business for the Undergraduate Awards.

Helen found synergy between the corporate and education world though entrepreneurship. Driven by curiosity and a “love for the unknown”, Helen is passionate about leading teams in delivering bold results for her clients and support for emerging talent.

After years working in strategic and hands-on marketing teams, the calibre of the SANFL, and the South Australian Government as well as two Adelaide-based international tech firms, Helen broke ground, launching her own agency, Good Things Marketing – a company she’s taken to the global stage, working with some of the world’s biggest brands.

Former Adelaidean Helen Ahrens is senior customer access manager at Hootsuite in Toronto, Canada.

Through her dual strategy-leadership approach, Helen has gone on to successfully develop and launch four businesses across industries.

Helen’s agency was SA’s first Hootsuite Partner Agency, which became the ‘in’ for her next North American stint. This time, in the fastest growing start-up hub in the continent, Toronto in Canada. So, it’s come as no surprise that Helen has since proclaimed Toronto as her new home for now.

Helen is the global senior customer success manager at the world’s most widely adopted social relationship platform, Hootsuite. Since starting in June 2018, she has won a slew of awards including: Road Warrior Award in 2018 for Customer Success, Build A Better Way Award in 2018 for Customer Success and was a top performing global Customer Success Manager in Q3 2018.

“I work across Canada, the United States of America, Europe and beyond with Hootsuite’s global, strategic and complex enterprise clients. I love all of my clients and am surrounded by my dream team of colleagues,” Helen says.

She has been able to continue her interest in academia, guest lecturing at both the University of Toronto’s Rotman Business School and Ryerson University.

Helen Ahrens, third from left, with Good Things Marketing team members.

Helen is currently the ‘token Aussie’ in the East Coast office, where she best explains Adelaide as “the Niagara on the Lake or the Napa Valley of Australia”.

“It’s all about great wine, farm to table food and gorgeous countrysides,” she says. It has an added bonus of the best beaches, too” – a luxury that Torontonians need to travel a day to enjoy.

Helen proudly touches on the evolution of Adelaide, even since she left in March 2018. “…particularly in the tech and startup spaces – it has matured by leaps and bounds”.

“I do love Adelaide. My partner and I left for Toronto to broaden not only our career, but also our cultural aptitude and life experiences,” she shares.

Helen touches on an important point in that there is often a mix of motivators for those who choose to uproot themselves and leave home. The adventure is more often a journey of self-expansion and seeking to understand, than it is of wanting to leave what’s behind.

But Helen certainly did her research, rather than just hopping between countries on a whim.

“I very much had a laser focus on joining a large tech company to work with global companies and knew Toronto was where the Northern American tech scene was thriving,” she says.

The Riverland-born entrepreneur plans to return to SA later this year for a visit. When asked if she feels emotionally connected to Adelaide, Helen aptly responds, “Yes, but home is always where you want it to be”.

“I do miss those small town city vibes, the easy lifestyle and low cost of scenic living, though,’ she says. “I’d move back to Adelaide if the right opportunity arose.”

However, Helen is also honest with herself and knows she thrives just outside her comfort zone… both, where she wants to be and what she likes to do. It’s her intuition combined with a ‘trust the journey’ philosophy that have helped her smoothly transition from CEO back to employee. One thing’s for sure… we haven’t seen or heard the last of Helen in Adelaide.

The Hello From SA network is sharing the stories of SA expats from around the world. Do you know a South Aussie living, working or learning abroad? Get in touch via the Hello From SA Facebook or LinkedIn pages.

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

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SA’s food waste solutions set to drive a new economy

Food waste is global scourge of alarming enormity – worth an estimated $1.6 trillion annually – but South Australia is placed at the forefront of finding new ecological and economic solutions.

In July 2018, the Federal Government announced the allocation of $30 million in funds to establish the Fight Food Waste Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) in Adelaide, a commitment by industry and government worth a combined $121 million over 10 years to combat Australia’s estimated $20 billion annual food waste bill.

Having completed contracts between all parties making contributions to the CRC – being a unique combination of 43 industry partners, eight universities and five state government partners – the program’s first six research and development projects were approved two weeks ago.

Dr Steven Lapidge, CEO of the Fight Food Waste CRC, based in the Wine Innovation Building at Urrbrae, says that while work on many projects will occur around the nation and have a national impact, SA was the natural home for the centre.

Split and damaged citrus bound for waste.

“From container recycling to banning plastic bags, SA has been a leader in sustainability for a long time. We also have the lowest food waste per capita,” says Steven.

“Now we take it to the next level. Driving large-scale change through innovation represents a huge opportunity in this state. Australia was lagging 10 years behind Europe, and now this CRC is the largest enterprise committed to research and development of food waste solutions in the world.

“We are in a position to play a critical leading role. We need to, because the global statistics are staggering. It’s estimated that 33% of all food produced is wasted – and 50% of all fruit and vegetables grown end up as waste, most of it becoming land fill.”

Research and development initiatives are an increasing focus of international attention. Steven spoke with Brand SA News on Stop Food Waste Day (April 24), a US-based online initiative driven by major food industry bodies, calling for people to become food waste warriors, by taking a pledge to raise community awareness about the issue.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Tim Whetsone, speaks at the CRC launch.

“What is happening in industry to combat food waste is going hand-in-hand with a zealous public awareness campaign, all designed to give the smart initiatives maximum traction,” says Steven. “They not only make environmental sense. Businesses make profits from turning their own waste products into something of value that can be sold.”

One of the CRC’s first projects will be exploring new packaging initiatives for food, which Steven says is of critical importance.

“Public sentiment is distorting the argument around food packaging. There needs to be a more balanced understanding about what can be done with smarter and more efficient packaging to help eradicate food waste through prolonging food shelf life and reducing spoilage.”

Food waste transformation projects are already in motion, led by the local potato industry. SA has the four largest producers in the country, producing about 80% of Australia’s premium potatoes.

Currently 45% go to waste, but the University of Adelaide is working with Potatoes SA to turn discarded fresh potatoes into puree, dairy-free ice cream and vodka. With potatoes being the third largest commodity in the world, these waste transformation ideas are set to have significant international traction.

Two more of the initial food waste transformation projects are with the SA-based abalone and national prawn fisheries, to prevent waste of expensive ingredients when they are being processed, to ensure greater profitability in fisheries.

Already, the SA Research and Development Institute has helped to transfer lobster processing by-products into lobster oil and dehydrated powder.

“These are the sorts of changes that turn around farming profitability,” says Steven. “It has repercussions across so many industries throughout this state, and elsewhere.”

Steven is also confident the CRC outcomes will influence widespread behavioural change to reduce food waste, especially through the CRC’s industry connection hub that extends the centre’s influence.

“Between all of the partners involved in the CRC, we have a reach of 10 million people. It’s unheard of to have an extension network this big,” says Steven. “The outcomes from this CRC will have enormous influence and pass positive messages all along the supply chain.”

The Fight Food Waste CRC team and representatives from other bodies including SARDI and PIRSA.

Steven says the Fight Food Waste CRC expects to have about half its initial research portfolio in place by the middle of this year, representing about 20 projects. This includes such bright ideas as efficient processes to convert grape marc (waste grape pulp and stalks) into grape seed extract.

None is currently produced in Australia, despite the abundance of marc produced by the local wine industry. CRC participant Swisse Wellness is encouraging this project, as it currently needs to import large quantities of grape seed extract from France for use in its products.

Other ingredients used in nutraceuticals are derived from such horticultural products as carrots, broccoli, tomatoes – which are all high-waste crops in Australia.

Successful CRC research will inspire further initiatives, and have far-reaching effect. “Reports that have focused on the Circular Economy are promising new jobs – 25,000 are possible in SA, if it all comes to fruition,” says Steven.

“The solutions and new ideas that will be implemented through the Fight Food Waste CRC will be a big step towards heading in this direction.”

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

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Meet the civil engineer helping build one of the world’s most challenging tunnelling projects in Himalayas

Bineshian Hoss’ career as a civil engineer has taken him to the four corners of the globe. One city, however, captured his heart. Adelaide became Bineshian’s adopted home nearly a decade ago… and the place he returns to in between his overseas engineer postings.

After more than 20 years working in design and construction roles, his latest position would challenge even the most experienced engineer – constructing a 300km length of tunnels in India’s Himalayan range.

Rumoured to be the highest railway bridge in the world, the J&K Railway Project is also the largest project ever recorded in India, connecting the Jammu and Kashmir regions across the mysterious, untouched majesty of the Himalayas.

The early stages of the project, which includes 103 tunnels and 62 bridges, have an estimated 15-year completion date – four of which, Bineshian has been central part of as head of consultancy and engineering with Swiss company, Amberg Engineering.

“Most areas don’t even have road access, so the evolution of the project is slow. It has to be. India is new to tunneling, both in knowledge and infrastructure. It’s maturing as the years go on, thankfully,” Bineshian says.

Tunneling is now considered as much science as it is art, and within the “young fold Himalayan Mountains”, there’s a high degree of rock strata through which the tunnel is being bored.

“Road accessibility, geology of the Himalayas, potential landslides, and insurgency constantly plague our momentum,” Bineshian says.

He is part of a revolving team of dozens of engineers working on the J&K Railway Project. As it stands, the completion date is loosely set for 2024 and is “certainly not a project for the faint of heart”.

Bineshian doesn’t fall into this category, always embracing the next journey his career takes him.

Originally Iranian-Australian, Bineshian admitted at The University of Western Australia to complete a Masters and Doctorate in Civil-Geotechnical Engineering.

An invitation to keynote at an industry lecture in Hahndorf introduced him to life in Adelaide. This spurred an immersive research period where he explored Adelaide’s key industries, economy and easy travel to countries he’d frequented.

“I liked how central it was. And given I have a young son, its safety and friendliness was important, too,” he explains. “It needed to fulfil all those lifestyle perks, while still being easy for me to travel in and out of.”

Shortly after this, Adelaide became Bineshian’s new home.

“I believe it’s the best city in Australia. The weather is perfect, the people are friendly and respectful of their community. It’s like no other city I’ve been to before,” he says.

Civil engineer Bineshian Hoss, right, is now working on the USBRL project – one of the most challenging railway projects in the Himalayas.

Bineshian has lived in Aberfoyle Park. Nowadays, he returns every quarter, given the demanding nature of the J&K Railway Project.

“I have to be on the ground in India a lot, especially over the past four years. But, Adelaide is still my base,” he says.

Bineshian’s long-term plans are to return to Adelaide full-time.

“There’s a lot of movement in the city and I believe the transportation sector will be next, particularly with infrastructure,” he says. “Every time I return home, there’s a new building in development. I’d love to be one of the local engineers they turn to when we need bridges, highways and tunnels.”

Bineshian is one of the growing number of expats who keep Adelaide within reach. The lifestyle is the shared consensus regarding the gravitational pull of Adelaide.

He believes developments in South Australia’s transport industry could position Adelaide as “the world’s best city” – an optimistic title, he acknowledges, but one he truly believes.

And we know who will put up his hand to pioneer a project with such vision and to fulfil his dream, of course… to live and work in Adelaide.

The Hello From SA network is sharing the stories of SA expats from around the world. Do you know a South Aussie living, working or learning abroad? Get in touch via the Hello From SA Facebook or LinkedIn pages.

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

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After 12 years away, I chose to move back to SA – here’s why

In the winter of 2016, I started thinking a lot about moving back to Adelaide, the city where I’d been born and raised. I’d left in 2007 at the age of 21 and moved to Sydney, swapping my shared workers’ cottage that was spitting distance from the Adelaide Central Market for a two-storey terrace in Darlinghurst with walls so mouldy that they quickly consumed all the pictures I naively hung on the walls.

I wanted to work in the media, and Sydney was the place to do it. I lasted in the Darlinghurst sharehouse for another six months, and then lived on my own and loved it. At holidays, I’d come home, always visiting the same places: Amalfi, the Wheaty, Lucia’s, Coriole, Henley Beach. The city felt comfortable and safe, like an old friend who didn’t really change that much but it was okay, because they were always there for you.

Vanessa Keys, pictured in Milan, moved back to SA recently after more than a decade living away from home.

In 2012, I started plotting my next move: London, a city that my sister had moved to a year prior. I’d never been but that was okay, because everyone spoke English, right? Plus, I told myself, I’d be perfectly happy just working in a pub. (Reader, she was not perfectly happy working in a pub.) It was not love at first sight: I struggled to find a permanent job, a decent flat, functional flatmates. Simple tasks were a constant battle.

But with each year came better work, and with better work came better money, and with money came travel and restaurants and proper winter shoes and share houses with just one mouse instead of the whole measly family. Our friends were our family, and we all worked very hard but we played very hard too, and sometimes it felt like we’d tricked the system, like we’d found a way to be young and have fun forever. If someone had told me they’d invented a way to freeze time, I would have gladly cashed out my life savings.

I’d been spending Christmas in Adelaide since I’d moved but when I went back in 2015 the city felt different, or maybe I’d just been too in love with London to notice. Side streets I’d not known existed had born cosy bars and everywhere I looked there were new cafés and restaurants. I noticed First Fridays, innovation hubs, underground radio stations. I bumped into people I knew and didn’t hate it, and not one person asked me what school I went to. The wineries felt closer, the beaches sandier. How was wine this cheap?

Vanessa and her partner Aaron at The Bluff, Encounter Bay.

When I returned to London, missing the sun, I realised that what I’d come to love about London wasn’t the allure of the big city but the community of the small neighbourhood that I’d come to call home. Age changes what you need from a city, and as much as I would have loved to stay 30 and live in Hackney forever, I knew London had an expiry date. I thought briefly about returning to Sydney but the enormity of the city no longer appealed.

Over the next year, things started to fall into place: my friend and I decided to start a business together, and we decided that business would be in Adelaide, and I met my partner, who Googled ‘living in Adelaide’ many months before I asked how he felt about leaving the city that he’d been born and raised in. (He said yes.)

If I make it sound easy, it wasn’t. I was nervous about what a life in Adelaide would look like, and knew my partner would be homesick, just as I was. Working for yourself is hard, and even harder in a city where you don’t know anyone. I worried about being bored, about my partner being bored, and not being able to fly to Europe for a long weekend (I know, I know).

Vanessa, right, and her business partner Lizzie at Shaw and Smith in the Adelaide Hills.

We’ve been back for five months now, and what our life looks like is this: we pay half as much rent than we did in London for an apartment on the city fringe with views of the Adelaide Hills. The noises that I hear at night are not mice, and we don’t have to worry about our boiler breaking. Boredom hasn’t even crossed our minds. We enjoy Adelaide Fringe shows, new restaurants, wine bars, beaches, wineries and galleries. I still can’t believe it only takes 40 minutes to get to a sandy beach. Europe is no longer on our doorstep but that’s okay, because Hobart, New Zealand and Asia are.

Curiosity abounds: people want to know what we’re doing, why we’re here, how they can help. We’ve both fallen hard for the community that Adelaide fosters and the drive and energy that small business owners have. There’s so much pride that comes from living in a state that supports local trade. And, unlike London, you don’t need as much money to have a good life. Everything feels a little easier.

I’ll be forever grateful to everyone that stayed, to those people that banged on the table for change, and even more so to the people that made that change happen. I can’t wait to be a part of what happens next.

Read Vanessa’s Brand SA News stories here.

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

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New York tales of a South Australian expat

‘Producer’ on paper, but self-proclaimed “Jill of all trades”, South Australian expat Rebecca Gill lives, loves and learns in New York City… where hustling is a religion and apartments are smaller than most Adelaide kitchens.

It’s a small price to pay when chasing your dream – and New York has “always been it” for Rebecca. Her journey began in 2010, when she left Adelaide to fulfil her dream of working and living abroad. Bali was the first stop on her one-way ticket, having accepted a position as media manager for an NGO that had set-up there, during a recent rabies outbreak on the island.

While worlds apart from her previous roles a journalist at The Advertiser, working for an NGO in Asia set her up for the string of non-profits she’d go on to manage in New York, including Unicef and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Aside from her tiny Manhattan studio, Rebecca is “living the dream”, in every sense of the phrase. She runs a production company, ReAgency, with her BFF Jayde Lovell. Initially, the pair launched as a science-leaning PR agency but, given the administration’s anti-science agenda, they’ve unintentionally morphed into a late-night-style political talk-show, with a comedic undertone.

SA expat and NYC producer Rebecca Gill on set.

Rebecca creates branded content for universities and environmental organisations, and has just wrapped up post-production on her first documentary. She spends most of her time overseeing video production, rubbing shoulders with other content creators in Manhattan’s YouTube space.

“I feel like I’ve done a hundred different jobs and I’m a million years old. Even in New York City, I call myself a producer but I juggle lots of roles,” Rebecca laughs. The New York way, perhaps.

Adelaide remains a calm, grounding yearly refuge for a much-needed change of energy. Rebecca admits her perception of Adelaide being “mortgage, kids and bathroom renovations” has changed over the years.

“Adelaide isn’t just the suburbs,” she says. “It’s a cool city with a thriving arts scene and a great quality of life. There’s a bazillion other things going for it, too. I really just needed to look harder.

“You can live the creative life anywhere… you just have to find your people. I thought I had to get to a big city to try and be the person I wanted to be.”

Rebecca sees Adelaide as a diverse and bustling small city, similar to what her New York friends perceive it to be – “beaches, wine, cool little eateries, diverse people and the Adelaide Fringe, of course”.

As the years pass in New York, her affinity for simplicity grows – like hanging out with her folks in their backyard as relatives file through bringing different brands of sauvignon blanc. “A backyard is something I never get to enjoy in Manhattan,” Rebecca says.

Working out of NYC, Rebecca Gill rubs shoulders with other content creators in Manhattan’s YouTube space.

Regardless of how expensive it can be to fly home, Rebecca enjoys visiting home yearly. “It’s my physical release, coming home,” she says. “An undeniable surge of happiness, that goes something like, ‘oh God, thank you for this peace and space”.

Her family lives only a couple of streets (“blocks”, in Rebecca’s adopted language), from the city. Having attended Grange Primary School and Henley High School, the beach has always been symbolic of her childhood.

Rebecca says she is lucky enough to work with a tight group of Aussies.

“Jayde is constantly playing Crowded House, Matt Corby and Vance Joy, so that always triggers memories of the nearly 30 years I spent in Adelaide,” she says.

When posed the question that’s most common at family Christmas lunches for almost all SA expats, ‘will you ever return to Adelaide?’, she replies ‘hell, yeah!’ in true Aussie spirit.

Among her long list of reasons for one day returning home, a desire to raise future children in Australia is a big one.

“(In the US) Even those lucky enough to have insurance can get slapped with a $40,000 hospital bill, just for giving brith,” Rebecca says. “And who wants to raise a baby without their mum around?”

Home living space is another reason to one day make the journey home – she winces when thinking about what can get in Adelaide for the price of her monthly Manhattan rent.

“My toilet is basically on top of my kitchen,” Rebecca says. “One day, I’d love to live in those rambling old farmhouse-style homes in Adelaide, with a red brick exterior, giant old trees, a rosebush and hardwood floors.

“And of course, to be close to my parents. They’re both vegans, who kayak, cycle and are 7am joggers. And me? I’m a true New Yorker now. I eat out every night, my oven doubles as shoe storage, and ‘exercise’ is climbing subway stairs.”

The grass isn’t always greener. At least, not every season.

Today, though, Rebecca’s just enjoying the here and now… working on projects that ignite her. Like many others who leave Adelaide to embrace their opportunities, Rebecca has an important narrative to tell. Specifically, that life isn’t linear and more often than not, the real adventures are waiting for you in life’s zig-zags.

As part of Brand South Australia’s recently launched Hello From SA network, we’ll be sharing the stories of SA expats from around the world. Do you know a South Aussie living, working or learning abroad? Get in touch via the Hello From SA Facebook or LinkedIn pages.

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

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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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Hello From SA brings together expats interstate and abroad

South Australians living, working or learning interstate and abroad are set to be connected through a new network, launched by Brand South Australia this week.

Bringing together South Australian expats, the Hello From SA network is content-driven, creating an informed, engaged and positive network for South Australians all around the world.

This content will encourage expats to become advocates for SA by maintaining or deepening their connection with the state.

“No matter where you are in the world, you’ll find fellow South Australians, and wherever they end up they take with them a connection to the state,” says Brand South Australia executive chairman Peter Joy.

“There are so many talented and inspiring South Australians out there achieving great things and we want them to re-engage with our state. SA has a lot to offer in terms of business and investment opportunities, and we want our expats to be aware of this, and perhaps even consider SA as a place worth returning to for career and lifestyle opportunities.”

Central to the network is the Hello From SA website, LinkedIn page, (@Hello From SA) and Facebook page (@HelloFromSA).

Through these platforms, SA expats can stay up to date with the latest news, business opportunities and industry insights from around SA, read in-depth profiles of successful South Australians and find out about the latest cultural happenings in the state.

The network also gives expats the opportunity to interact and connect with fellow South Australians all around the globe.’

All South Australians are encouraged to share Hello From SA with their family and friends living interstate and overseas.

SA was once home to many notable faces, including Adelaide-born Gold Logie award-winning TV and radio presenter, Carrie Bickmore, most known for her role in hosting The Project.

Australia’s former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop grew up in the Adelaide Hills and studied law at the University of Adelaide. Now living in Perth, Julie was the country’s first ever female foreign minister.

University of South Australia graduate Tim Piper is the founding partner of award-winning New York creative agency Piro. Time Magazine named him one of the most influential people on the planet for his content work for brands.

Successful actor, musician and TV presenter Hugh Sheridan was born and raised in Adelaide and is well-known for playing Ben on popular Aussie family drama Packed to the Rafters. He now lives in Los Angeles.

Vogue Australia’s fashion director Christine Centenera was raised in Adelaide and now based in New York. In 2017 she co-founded WARDROBE.NYC with partner and Australian fashion designer Josh Goot.

Ken Wong is a successful game designer, director, and creative mind behind many popular apps. Growing up in Adelaide and graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from UniSA, Ken was the lead designer of award-winning game Monument Valley.

Bruna Papandrea is an SA-born now US-based film and TV producer and founder of production company Made Up Stories. Prior to this, Bruna co-founded Pacific Standard with Reese Witherspoon, a production company working on blockbusters Wild, Gone Girl and Big Little Lies.

So, do you know a South Australian expat, living, working or studying outside of SA? Share the Hello From SA network!

Feature image: Adelaide Oval, SATC.

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

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Adelaide BioMed City’s double Dutch research

Adelaide’s impressive new hospital, the striking South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and the legion of learning facilities nearby sealed the deal in attracting Dutch cardiologist Johan Verjans and Yvette van Eenennaam to the city.

It was two years ago when the talented couple was in the midst of exploring health research opportunities including in Sydney and Amsterdam, when Adelaide emerged the winner.

“Seeing the new hospital, it exemplified the ambition of a city to create change, and I think that is what helps attract people,” Johan says.

“Australia is a relatively well funded country but competitive and it’s hard to find that whole package like it is in Adelaide in other places, with liveability, ambition and world-class research.”

Both Johan and Yvette have stepped into leading health research roles for the city after arriving in Adelaide in 2017 with their two daughters aged seven and five.

Yvette Eenennaam and Johan Verjans chose SA over other states and cities to pursue their medical and health research careers.

Johan works as a cardiologist and heart health researcher at the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) and SAHMRI. Last year he was appointed deputy director of Medical Machine Learning at the recently established Australian Institute of Machine Learning (AIML) to apply artificial intelligence to biomedical research.

Yvette was made the first general manager of Adelaide BioMed City, one of the largest health and life sciences clusters in the southern hemisphere, after it was officially launched last year. Before joining Adelaide BioMed City, Yvette worked for large multinationals in leading roles and had a focus on organisation development, change management and expansion through partnerships.

Located on North Terrace, BioMed City is a partnership between the state’s independent, flagship health and medical research institute SAHMRI with its more than 600 medical researchers, the Central Adelaide Local Health Network and the state’s three universities.

Its mission is to be a globally recognised partnership leading the world in research, education, clinical care and population health.

“Our goal is to build impact, leverage investment and inform evidence-based healthcare and innovation in ways that could not be achieved separately,” its statement says.

Yvette saw the group’s strategic plan signed off in February and is working to make plans to further strengthen the collaboration and to jointly bid for infrastructure and research funding.

“We’re a decent sized city, but compared to the east coast it’s very competitive, we need to work together in specific domains if we want to leverage the huge potential and make a global impact in any way,” she says.

Yvette is already hosting delegations of potential investors from Singapore, Taiwan and Sweden keen to see the opportunities.

“Particularly with plans for SAHMRI 2 there is a dedicated floor space for industry and additional clinical trial space,” she says.

Inside SAHMRI.

This new building will have lab and office space for biomedical companies and educational institutions. It will also house Australia’s first proton therapy unit to provide the most technologically advanced precision radiation therapy ever seen in the southern hemisphere, delivering cancer destroying protons to the tumor site of otherwise inoperable cancers, without affecting healthy tissues.

Gaining the expertise of Johan and Yvette has been a coup for the city. Johan is also a senior lecturer at the University of Adelaide and an associate investigator of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Nanoscale Biophotonics. He is associate editor of the Netherlands Heart Journal, and author of Springer/Nature’s first book on AI in medical imaging – and recently was awarded the Ahrens Researcher Award by the Australian Heart Foundation.

Johan believes there is great interest and opportunity in using artificial intelligence (AI) to advance health care, and his push to grow this has led to the job as deputy director of Medical Machine Learning at AIML.

“We see opportunities in reducing congestion in emergency departments of hospitals, since 12% of admissions in the emergency department are for chest pain of some sort,” Johan says.

By using existing data from ECG, biomarkers and AI, it could potentially provide better feedback on the risk of that pain to an individual patient, and to see whether it is safe for them to be sent home or be admitted, he says.

“Research is exploding in the AI space and in Adelaide we have a clear advantage, with leading groups in AI at AIML and world class biomedical research at SAHMRI,” he says.

“Adelaide BioMed City has so much potential. I don’t think people in SA realise with AIML we have one of the best machine learning groups in the world on North Terrace, together with three highly ranked universities, and SAHMRI which recently made the top 40 of the world’s best research institutions. We can make a difference in one of the world’s most liveable cities.”

Industry in focus: Health

Throughout the month of April, the state’s health industry will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia’s health sector is among the best in the world, renowned for developing new and advanced technologies and research outcomes. Our health industry infrastructure is world-class, providing new pathways and job opportunities, as well as a growing potential for health tourism.

Read more health 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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Technicolor’s Mill Film recruiting globally for Adelaide studio

Technicolor’s Mill Film Adelaide studio is drawing on local and international talent to build its workforce which is expected to grow to 300 employees by the end of 2019.

The visual effects studio, comprised today of 140 employees including management and operations, is working from a temporary space in Adelaide’s west, and is anticipating a move into its permanent home within the CBD Myer centre by mid-June.

In 2018, Technicolor and its brands – MPC, MR. X, Mikros and Mill Film – worked on 40-plus titles for major studios including A Wrinkle in Time, Predator, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, The New Mutants and 14 episodic projects from Mr. X including new seasons of American Gods, Carnival Rows, Narcos, A Series of Unfortunate Events and Vikings. This is in addition to its film credits related to Jungle Book, Wonder Woman and The Shape of Water.

Mill Film specifically, is focused on providing world-class visual effects for feature film and episodic production markets for major studios and streaming services. The Adelaide studio is expected to grow to 500 employees over five years.

Mill Film Adelaide’s managing director Mark Thorley says the studio is currently actively recruiting for a variety of positions in areas of animation, lighting and environment. The hiring will be a combination of established professionals in the market as well as emerging talent coming out of universities through Technicolor’s Academy.

Mill Film Adelaide’s managing director Mark Thorley.

Mark confirms that the academy has already taken on 40 graduate positions, with a second intake for the one-year paid learning and development program now under way.

“It’s pretty unique from an Australian perspective,” he says. “We pay these individuals from day one and then bring them on the floor once they’ve graduated.”

Mark moved to SA from Queensland to take up his position and says Adelaide’s lifestyle strengths played a part in the company choosing the southern state to expand the brand.

“It’s a great city, in an amazing part of the world, offering the combination of great talent and lifestyle,” he says. “Adelaide is Australia’s best kept secret. We’re thrilled to be here and business is off to a great start. I am incredibly proud of the great work we are doing and can’t wait for the final product to reach audiences everywhere.”

The announcement that Adelaide would welcome a Mill Film studio came in 2018 and was received as a game-changer by the state’s creative industries. The former Labor government also announced its backing of the project with $6 million from the Economic Investment Fund. More than a year later, Mill Film Adelaide has secured its first 12 months’ worth of work.

Mill Film is currently working on Dora The Explorer, an adaption of the popular animation series, and will announce further projects in late 2019, early 2020.

Dora The Explorer is in cinemas from August 2.

“Technicolor is always looking for locations that can offer a new talent pool of skilled VFX artists and therefore we started talking to several state governments before deciding to settle in SA,” Nathan says.

“In addition to (state and federal Post Production, Digital and Visual Effects) rebates, Adelaide offered an opportunity for expansion because of its pool of proven creative talent, access to universities to develop and nurture talent, and the infrastructure already in place for such high-end projects, inclusive of internet infrastructure to allow us to move large amounts of data around,” Nathan says.

“This combined with the lifestyle and quality of life in Adelaide makes it the perfect environment for fostering creativity.”

Nathan Wappet, Technicolor Production Services COO, says the industry is currently experiencing one of its biggest shifts, brought on by an unprecedented demand for content.

“The shift is so massive, it’s changed the definition of what a studio is, with new entrants Netflix, Hulu, Apple, and Amazon Studios setting the bar, and traditional studios announcing their own content distribution platforms,” he says.

“These changes are blurring the line between feature and episodic; short and long form, to the point where quality expectations and production values are the same for all content creators, regardless of distribution platform.

“In the midst of this shift, Technicolor, and its brands are in an unparalleled position to deliver on clients’ and project needs without compromising quality by optimising picture, sound, and visual effects services.”

A scene from ‘Gladiator’ for which Mill Film won an Oscar for visual effects.

Technicolor’s presence in SA is a boost to not only jobs in the state, but the overall local VFX industry, which already home to large VFX house Rising Sun Pictures as well as boutique studio Resin, both of which have an international reach.

Nathan says existing VFX businesses in Adelaide will benefit from Technicolor entering the market as the company often needs to outsource some of its VFX and animation work.

“These studios would be the most likely beneficiaries of any local outsourcing as well as the training and growth of a local artist and technology talent pool. It is a winning proposition for all players,” he says.

Mill Film is anticipating on being a VFX, animation and content production of excellence with hopes of mirroring the success of Technicolor’s MPC Film Montreal studio which grew to more than 1000 people in 2018.

Mill Film’s global managing director Lauren McCallum has a vision for Mill Film to be the most inclusive tier-1 studio in the world, putting talent first and embracing diversity in its work.

“Adelaide helps us achieve this by allowing us to tap in to a talent pool we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to – opening up new pathways in to the industry for even more diverse creatives,” she says.

“The demand for visual effects content has exploded in recent years and we don’t anticipate this will slow down.”

Industry in focus: Creative Industries

Throughout the month of March, the state’s creative industries will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is home to a thriving ecosystem of creative businesses and specialists who are delivering world-class works VFX, TV and film production, app development and the VR space. Read more creative industries 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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Local talent behind SA-made film Hotel Mumbai

South Australian-made film Hotel Mumbai has hit cinemas across Australia and overseas, based on incredible events that unfolded at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai during deadly terror attacks in 2008.

Hotel Mumbai is SA director Anthony Maras’ debut feature, filmed partially at Adelaide Studios within the SA Film Corporation, as well as on location in India, in 2016.

The film is based on the real-life events that unfolded at the five-star Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in November 2008, when gunmen stormed the building in a string of attacks carried out across the city over three days, killing 164 people.

Filming started in 2016, with Adelaide Studios transformed to replicate the opulent interior of the luxurious palace hotel, where heroic staff made sacrifices to save their guests.

On set at Adelaide Studios during the filming of Hotel Mumbai.

Anthony Maras, who is well-known for his 2011 short film The Palace, spent a year researching and interviewing survivors and co-wrote the film alongside John Collee. The film stars Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi, Jason Isaacs, and Adelaide actor Tilda Cobham-Hervey and received a standing ovation at its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last year before its Australian premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival.

Julie Ryan who heads Adelaide production company Cyan Films was one of six producers on Hotel Mumbai and says about 230 people were employed during filming and post production, with 66% of them from SA.

Although the Glenside film precinct is a world away from the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Julie says the set was adaptable in replicating the hotel’s interior.

Director Anthony Maras, centre, on set.

“Given the Adelaide Studios were built in the late 1800s – and the Taj was early 1900s – it meant that some of the architecture could match and we could build the sets and utilise things like the window frames and high ceilings,” she says.

“The studios and tenants were extremely adaptable and helpful, particularly the tenants on the second floor who allowed us to film in their corridors outside their offices.

“There are moments in the film where you come out of a corridor in Adelaide and literally walk into a set in Mumbai – and that’s the genius of (production designer) Steven Jones-Evans.”

Completing post-production and assisting in the execution of the seamless transitions between interior scenes in Adelaide and exterior scenes in India, was local company KOJO.

Dev Patel plays Arjun, a brave waiter at the hotel.

KOJO’s post production and VFX team was engaged in post-supervision, picture and sound services and VFX on the film, taking on additional staff to work on the project.

Executive director of KOJO’s post production/visual effects department, Marty Pepper, was Hotel Mumbai’s VFX supervisor and DI colourist.

Marty, whose portfolio of work includes Storm Boy, I Am Mother, and soon-to-be-released Top End Wedding met director Anthony Maras back in 2005 when working on Wolf Creek.

Actor Angus McLaren plays Eddie.

He describes Hotel Mumbai as an “all-consuming project” after being involved from pre-production stages and travelling to India three times during filming.

“It was a very holistic thing, I feel as if I almost lived it (the film) for those years,” he says. “There is an incredible sense of respect in the film (for victims and survivors) and that was led by Anthony.”

KOJO worked on 750 shots in the film, with the company’s entire post-production and VFX team involved “in some shape or form”.

“When we shot at Adelaide Studios the art department was quite incredible in turning the space into a luxurious hotel, and we played a part in how that was all integrated into the scenes in India. Part of the VFX was making sure the light and colour transitioned seamlessly,” Marty says.

Tilda Cobham-Hervey on set.

Hotel Mumbai is one of a string of films recently made in SA, a state which producer Julie Ryan and KOJO’s Marty Pepper both say punches above its weight in the film industry.

Julie notes the representation of SA films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, with four of the six Australian films screened at the event having a connection to SA – I Am Mother, Animals, The Nightingale and Top End Wedding.

“When you look at the recent Sundance Film Festival and add up how many of the Australian films had connections to SA it really does show that we are punching above our weight,” she adds.

Industry in focus: Creative Industries

Throughout the month of March, the state’s creative industries will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is home to a thriving ecosystem of creative businesses and specialists who are delivering world-class works VFX, TV and film production, app development and the VR space. Read more creative industries 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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