Adelaide wins the race to host the Australian Space Agency

South Australia has won the bid to host the Australian Space Agency, which will oversee the nation’s burgeoning space industry.

The agency will be established at the old Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) site, now known as Lot 14, by mid-2019 and will initially employ 20 full-time equivalent staff.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the announcement in Adelaide today (Wednesday, December 12) and says SA is a key hub for innovation and the technology industry, making it an ideal home for the new agency.

“Australia’s space industry is set to hit new heights,” he says.

“This agency is going to open doors for local businesses and Australian access to the US$345 billion global space industry.

“Our government’s $41 million investment into the agency will act as a launching pad to triple Australia’s space economy to $12 billion and create up to 20,000 jobs by 2030.

“This agency is part of our plan for a stronger economy for SA and the country which is about delivering long-term, high-wage, high-skills jobs.”

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SA Premier Steven Marshall says long-term investment in Adelaide and its space sector will drive entrepreneurship and innovation, and enhance the city’s liveability.

“SA is the ideal location for the Australian Space Agency with a range of local space industry businesses already established here as well as a rapidly growing defence industry sector,” he says.

“Establishing the headquarters of the Australian Space Agency in SA will launch our space and defence sectors to the next level.”

SA was up against strong competition from other states, with Adelaide astronaut Andy Thomas throwing his support behind SA’s bid to host the national space headquarters.

Italian aerospace engineer Flavia Tata Nardini runs Fleet Space Technologies from SA.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews says Adelaide put forward the strongest case and is already home to more than 60 organisations and 800 employees in the space sector.

A number of space start-ups including Fleet Space Technologies and nano-satellites startup, Myriota, are based in SA.

The southern state also has a longstanding contribution to the nation’s space journey, with Australia’s first satellite launching from Woomera in the Far North in 1967.

The Australian Space Agency will be key to the new Adelaide City Deal, a scheme that aims to turbo charge the city’s economy and drive long-term investment.

Aside from the space agency, Lot 14 is also expected to include a start-up precinct and growth hub, an international centre for tourism, hospitality and food services, and a national Aboriginal art gallery.

The old RAH closed in September 2017 and has since undergone progressive demolition. The new $2.4 billion hospital is located further west along North Terrace.

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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No place like home for hugely successful Pocket Casts pair

Adelaide app developers Philip Simpson and Russell Ivanovic’s climb to the top of the tech game is the stuff of entrepreneurial dreams.

In 2008 the two work mates built their first app, Pocket Weather, as a side gig to their full-time day jobs.

A decade later and their Adelaide-based company Shifty Jelly and its hugely popular podcast app Pocket Casts has been snapped up by four of the biggest radio and podcast creators in the United States.

But despite the recent international investment in the South Australian tech company, the humble pair say they have no plans to move from Adelaide.

All development will stay in the city, with the Pocket Casts team based in a small office on Ebenezer Place in the Adelaide’s East End.

Their space is modest and shows no obvious signs of flashy success, although the duo joke that a Silicon Valley-style ping pong table would probably fit nicely in the corner and be welcomed by their small but soon-to-expand team.

“They were talking about wanting us to go to New York, but from the early days we said we wanted to stay in Adelaide,” Russell says.

“They could see that we’d make a successful product and they could have a level of trust in us so that even though they can’t be here all the time, they know our team will still deliver.”

Pocket Casts app developers and I Choose SA ambassadors Philip Simpson, left, and Russell Ivanovic. Photo by James Knowler/JKTP.

Since the acquisition earlier this year by the Americans – NPR, WNYC Studios, WBEZ Chicago and This American Life – Pocket Casts is knuckling down on its ambitions for the future.

I Choose SA ambassadors Philip and Russell say they hope to hire at least another six staff members before the end of the year, adding to their small team of five.

Weekly they Skype their new CEO, former iHeartRadio senior vice president and general manager, Owen Grover, who is based in New York.

Pocket Casts is a premium podcast listening app allowing users to access and manage more than 300,000 podcasts on Android, iOS or web devices.

It was launched a few years after Philip and Russell had quit their day job and started their own venture, Shifty Jelly, a two-man operation which grew to include a designer and support and admin staff.

Pocket Casts has been downloaded more than 100,000 times in Google’s Play Store and in 2015 the design was recognised by the internet giant at the annual San Francisco developers conference.

A recent ABC survey shows that almost 90% of Australians aged 18–75 claim to be aware of podcasts which allow users to download and listen to episodic audio files on electronic devices.

Pocket Casts was one of the first of its kind on the market and even came before Apple’s own podcast app.

Philip says having the backing of the US consortium means the team now has more flexibility and financial security to grow Pocket Casts’ features.

“We can be more flexible now … before we were always profitable but were restricted with money,” he says.

“Now we can expand more and put on more developers to help with the features we’ve been wanting to do for years, it’s very exciting.”

The popularity of Pocket Casts wasn’t Philip and Russell’s first brush with success.

Before launching Shifty Jelly in 2010 the pair’s first app, Pocket Weather, was released in 2008 and was an immediate hit.

Within one day of its release the weather app, showcasing live weather data from Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, shot to number one in the Australian Apple App Store.

“It was amazing because we didn’t expect that, but we didn’t really know what it meant either,” Philip says.

“We were earning more money outside of work than we were at work, so we decided to take the jump with Shifty Jelly, and it was definitely worth it.”

Both Philip and Russell agree Adelaide’s creative industries and technology scene holds real job prosperity for graduates and job seekers.

“There’s plenty of work coming out of Adelaide if you want it, there’s the defence sector and the start-up thing is also happening,” Russell says.

“There’s almost no reason to move to Sydney or Melbourne, you’ll be paying five times more for housing, transport and everything else.

“If I was coming fresh out of uni, I’d definitely be getting a job in Adelaide.”

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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Tired? Hungry? Don’t worry, a SA graduate entrepreneur has you covered

Forget the frustration of lugging groceries home from the supermarket only to discover you’ve forgotten the key ingredients you set out for in the first place.

Budding South Australian entrepreneur Nicole Henderson is set to launch a platform that will make shopping for recipe ingredients simpler with the touch of a button.

Playt (pronounced plate) converts online recipes into a digital shopping list.

Woolworths collects the ingredients, before the Playt user either picks up the ready-to-go groceries from the store or has them delivered to their door.

Playt allows users to convert recipes into a digital shopping list and have the ingredients delivered to their door.

Playt allows users to convert recipes into a digital shopping list and have the ingredients delivered to their door.

It’s set to launch exclusively in SA in November before expanding into Melbourne and Sydney.

Aside from attracting the attention of the supermarket giant, Playt received $50,000 in backing through the University of South Australia’s Venture Catalyst program.

Nicole, who graduated from the UniSA’s innovation and entrepreneurship degree earlier this year, says the funding allowed her to speed up the development cycle.

She says it also gave her validation that Playt was a viable business idea.

“Validation is a massive thing for any entrepreneur … there’s a very supportive community in SA.”

While Playt will initially only convert online recipes into shopping orders, Nicole says she aims to soon develop the technology so it can process recipes from printed cook books.

It also allows users to order other groceries and household items unrelated to their selected recipe – such as toilet paper!

A $50,000 grant makes all the difference to emerging start-ups who need an extra push to lift their idea off the ground.

A $50,000 grant makes all the difference to emerging start-ups who need an extra push to lift their idea off the ground.

The idea for Playt came when Nicole was living in Sydney and working as a bank manager.

One day she became frustrated when carrying groceries home from the supermarket and realising she had forgotten to buy some items.

“That was my ‘ah ha!’ moment,” she says.

“There was nothing out there that allowed me to take a picture of a book, push a button and have the ingredients arrive at my door.

“I became obsessed with the idea.”

Nicole moved to Adelaide two years ago and was drawn to UniSA’s innovation and entrepreneurship degree, which she graduated from in July 2017.

“Before studying I had never heard of the word ‘start-up’,” she says.

“I used the degree as a platform for my research and marketing.”

Nicole partnered with the Moonshine Laboratory and together with Christian Ullmark and Jason Neave the trio co-founded Playt.

It’s located at the WOTSO WorkSpace in Adelaide’s CBD.

The Playt co-founding team.

The Playt co-founding team.

Moonshine supports emerging start-ups that need expertise in technical aspects of their business and helped connect Playt with Woolworths.

Nicole says the team plans to have well-known chefs share their recipes on the platform.

She says life as a budding entrepreneur can be a hard slog, but SA’s affordable lifestyle it an attractive place to start a business.

Fellow Venture Catalyst funding recipients are Sally Skewes ($50,000) for Secure Nest and James Walsh ($35,000 + $15,000 worth of incubation space) for Studio Buddy.

Willunga wedding guru among Pitchfest finalists

By Melissa Keogh

Taking the stress out of a bride and groom’s big day is no easy feat, but one Fleurieu woman is hoping to ease the process before it begins.

Willunga’s Melissa Little is launching an online event planning tool, VENYU, which will help brides carry out the most expensive part of wedding planning – selecting a venue.

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The online decision-making tool, which allows loved up couples to search for available wedding venues across the Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island, has received the nod from the 2017 Australia Post Regional Pitchfest.

Regional Pitchfest seeks the country’s top innovators and entrepreneurs and will award the winners with cash prizes to help launch their ventures.

Melissa is one of five South Australian finalists who will head to the State finals in McLaren Vale on July 28.

If successful, she will head to the nationals in Wagga Wagga in August.

The expert event planner says she is “really proud” to be recognised among the cohort of regional thinkers and innovators.

Willunga's Melissa Little is a Regional Pitchfest finalist.

Willunga’s Melissa Little is a Regional Pitchfest finalist.

The idea of VENYU sparked two years ago when Melissa’s sister was forced to find an alternate wedding venue after being double booked three weeks before the big day.

“We rang 90-odd venues … nothing was suitable,” Melissa says.

“It highlighted to me that it would be so simple to just jump online.”

From the dilemma sprouted the start-up venture, which Melissa says will allow users to shortlist suitable venues using search refinements “not currently offered by any other site”.

The VENYU concept is similar to property and accommodation sites realestate.com and Airbnb and will officially launch by the end of July.

“Usually 50% of a wedding budget is spent on the venue – it’s the most expensive component and the first decision made,” Melissa says.

“Some venues are booked out two years in advance (and) small venues don’t often market themselves.

“There are some beautiful small venues out there.”

South Australian landscapes offer the best wedding spaces.

South Australian landscapes offer the best wedding spaces.

Melissa’s advice for the bride-to-be is to look for unique and unsuspecting locations.

“It’s all about having it somewhere that your friends haven’t seen before,” she says.

Check out the other Regional Pitchfest South Australian finalists here.

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