Why Adelaide?


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GUEST BLOGGER: Jenny Vandyke, Author of The Innovation Recipe – Key ingredients for world-class results in big business

When I tell people that I’ve moved from Melbourne to Adelaide, 99 percent of the time I get the same response.  It’s the same reaction from locals, and colleagues and friends on the East Coast.  There’s always a long pause, then they frown and say ‘Why?’.

Let me share a secret with you.  I wholeheartedly believe that Adelaide is Australia’s best kept secret.  Adelaide is Australia’s best kept secret from a lifestyle perspective, and also in terms of entrepreneurship and innovation. There is no doubt that South Australia is facing a pressure cooker of challenges right now, but there are also many ways in which Adelaide is punching above its weight.

I moved to Adelaide at the end of 2014 for family reasons.  I grew up in Sydney, spent 17 years in Melbourne, and over the last 10 years my entire family has moved from Sydney to Adelaide.  Even though I’ve been visiting Adelaide regularly for the last 10 years, it wasn’t until I moved here and dived head first into the entrepreneurial community that I realised the mountain of value this city is sitting on.

The first sign that something was in the air was the coworking explosion.  The coworking scene here is only two years old, but already there are a plethora of spaces with niches including service based businesses, tech and creative businesses.  Hub Adelaide has hit the ground running with a gorgeous space (the jewel in the Hub Australia crown, in my opinion), partnerships galore including Adelaide City Council and SA Government, and, most importantly, a thriving community of switched on entrepreneurs who are getting stuff done.

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The Hub Adelaide co-working space.

Then there’s Majoran, a business created as a pivot from a team from the first Startup Weekend.  Focussed on tech and creative businesses, Majoran is firmly positioned at the epicentre of the Adelaide entrepreneurial community.  Powerful partnerships include Newscorp and New Venture Institute, again with a thriving community of switched on entrepreneurs who are getting stuff done.

The team behind Majoran are also the founders of Southstart, which I was fortunate enough to speak at in February.  Southstart absolutely blew me away.  This entrepreneurship and innovation conference attracted 450 delegates, with more than 10 percent of delegates from corporates and government, and a who’s who of corporate and government partnerships.  The speaker line up was great, with highlights including Stephen Baxter from River City Labs and Shark Tank, Andre Eikmeier from Vinomofo, and Gen George from Oneshift Jobs.

The level of cross industry collaboration in Adelaide is head and shoulders above what I’m seeing on the East Coast.  The degree to which corporates and government are leaning in to the local entrepreneurial community is also beyond what I’m seeing on the East Coast.

The second sign that change is in the air is more visible – the new Health and Biomedical Precinct will over the next few years grow to be the largest health and biomedical precinct in the Southern Hemisphere.  The precinct will be home to the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, slated to be the most advanced hospital in the country with high tech and low tech innovations in every department.

The precinct is also home to SAHMRI, the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute.  SAHMRI has been around for a number of years, and South Australia has been a leading centre for biomedical research for even longer, but the new SAHMRI building is putting Adelaide on the map.  International researchers are flocking back home to Adelaide after years overseas to be part of what SAHRMI is creating.

SAHMRI is creating collaborations in multiple ways.  Facilities are shared between research groups, and the internal architecture of the building is designed to encourage corridor conversations.  There are already examples of cross pollination, with techniques being swapped between disciplines.  SAHMRI has also secured partnerships with all three local universities and the CSIRO, and planning is underway for SAHMRI 2.

The third sign that change is in the air is in the food and wine industry.  One of the things I’ve always loved about Adelaide is how proud everyone is of their amazing local produce.  It’s a foodies’ and vinophiles’ paradise.  Tastes are discerning – even the most casual of events will be sure to serve quality wine and cheese – party pies and sausage rolls are a rarity.

The explosion in the food truck scene and small bar scene has been quite phenomenal over the last 18 months, and Adelaide has developed a thriving laneway and rooftop bar scene.  There are a number of heavy hitting entrepreneurs who have launched multiple successful cafes and bars in the last few years, and the buzz on a balmy Friday evening along Peel Street is something I never would have expected a few years ago.

I am loving living in Adelaide.  It’s great to spend time with the family, but what really excites me about living here is the energy and enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and innovation.  While most of my consulting work this year has been in Adelaide, I’ve travelled regularly to the East Coast for speaking gigs and will happily fly in/fly out for the right projects, but I’m wholeheartedly committed to making Adelaide my home.  I’m making it my mission to help South Australia to pivot from the industrial age in to the entrepreneurial age.  I’ve got several exciting projects in the pipeline for 2016, and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.

Jenny Vandyke is an innovation consultant and the author of The Innovation Recipe – Key ingredients for world-class results in big business. This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

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