South Australia has a number of industries well positioned for rapid growth, but three are particularly exciting from an investment perspective, says Alexandra Grigg, a senior portfolio analyst with the $50m SA Venture Capital Fund.
“Cyber security, digital health and photonics demonstrate strong market dynamics with broad applications across a range of other key industries,” Ms Grigg said.
“The growth of these three industries is being driven by the global shift towards a digital, data-driven economy and the technology, capabilities and infrastructure required to support this increasing digital transformation and dependency.”
South Australian businesses are already leading the charge in these three industries, for instance, Fivecast uses cutting edge digital intelligence to reduce threats to cyber safety and enhance cyber security.
“Fivecast delivers the world’s most important public and private organisations with the capability to explore masses of digital data, gaining insights which are critical in protecting our communities,” Ms Grigg said.
The SAVCF, managed by Artesian Venture Partners, invested in Fivecast in 2019.
Digital health-focused business Lumaryraised $17m in March from investors, including global tech giant Salesforce and SAVCF.
Tech entrepreneurs Joseph Mercorella and Matthew English established Lumary in 2017 after identifying a need for new software to manage the complex relationships between providers, consumers and others participating in the NDIS.
The company’s platform enables healthcare providers to manage their patients’ NDIS plans, access patient information and manage regulatory compliance obligations, in real time.
Photonics specialist Cryoclock has developed ultra-high precision time and frequency solutions, which is attractive particularly for the defence industry.
Cryoclock’s flagship product, Sapphire Clock, has already attracted the attention and major funding of national partners in the defence industry, seeking greater precision in radar.
In partnership with BAE Systems and the Department of Defence, Cryoclock is integrating the clock into Australia’s leading surveillance system, the Jindalee Operational Radar Network.
Based in the NT, Queensland and WA, JORN provides 24-hour military surveillance of Australia’s northern approaches at ranges of up to 3000 km and the integration of the Sapphire Clock will underpin future enhancements and enable detection of much smaller objects with greatly increased sensitivity.
A collaborative innovation ecosystem in SA would help to capitalise on emerging global demand, which would enable rapid growth for businesses.
Cyber Security innovation, for instance, has widespread application across markets and underpins the development of other cyber sectors operating within the digital economy, she said.
Since 2015, the number of smartphones and connected devices has increased from 15bn to 27bn worldwide and is expected to grow to 75bn by 2025.
“As the number of connected devices grows across the world, so does the information and digital data produced.”
This has created a need for tools that explore, collect, consolidate and analyse unprecedented amounts of digital data quickly for valuable and useful insights, not to mention the technology, infrastructure and capabilities and protection against cyber “vulnerabilities” that underpin all the information flow, she said.
“Innovations in digital health are helping solve healthcare challenges and improving patient and outcomes through efficient, personalised treatment,” Ms Grigg said.
“As with cyber security, the growth of the digital health industry is being driven by the global transition towards a digital economy.
“Personalisation and convenience will drive consumer demand for digital health innovation.”
She described photonics as “a key enabling technology and strategic industry” that has a broad range of applications across many different sectors and products.
There are examples of photonics-enabled devices all around us – in lighting systems through energy-efficient LEDs; in manufacturing, with high power fibre lasers; in telecommunications, with optical fibres and networking equipment; in medicine and life sciences, with sensors, lasers and imaging systems; and in
defence, with remote sensing and intrusion detection technologies, etc.
“The widespread application of photonics makes it an attractive industry for rapid growth.”
Ms Grigg says investors have a crucial role in driving innovation and growth of future industries and the group is also collaborating with universities, incubators and other stakeholders.
“Funding disruptors also generates positive outcomes for society more broadly.
“As an example, the SAVCF has invested in five SA-based companies since it was established.
“These companies have launched their technology into space on SpaceX rockets, hired NASA astronauts, worked with national security and law enforcements to counter terrorism and organised crime, helped children suffering with developmental difficulties, and are developing technologies for improved cancer detection.
Corporates play an important part in an innovation ecosystem.
“Building collaborative partnerships between ecosystem participants can deliver benefits to all stakeholders.
“Corporate engagement in the start-up ecosystem can help solve innovation challenges, provide growth opportunities for start-ups and the state.”
Building this engagement and future ecosystem is Chris Kirk, general manager of co-working hub Stone & Chalk at Lot Fourteen in Adelaide.
“We are the innovation infrastructure that paves the way to growth,” Mr Kirk says.
“We connect founders and corporates, providing the capital, customers, talent, mentorship and advocacy that emerging and critical technologies need to fulfil their promise.”
Technology was already enabling future industries in the state, with capabilities in cleantech and energy scaling at a breathtaking pace.
Mr Kirk highlighted IO Energy, which is helping customers use energy when it’s cleanest and cheapest, acoustic monitoring technology business Ping Services and satellite connectivity provider Myriota as local businesses leading future innovation.
“Reask are another at the intersection of emerging technologies, building climate risk models for the global insurance industry using machine learning and high-performance computing to forecast, monitor and respond to extreme weather events in real time.”
Not-for-profit organisation KIK Innovation’s founder Louise Nobes says new-age education models have a role to play in the state’s plan for a globally recognised hi-tech sector.
Ms Nobes is bringing the revolutionary 42 school, built around collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, communication and agency, to Adelaide.
“No teachers and no classes, means the peer-to-peer methodology results in a super-set of soft and technical skills, which is the future of education,” she said.
“42 solves 2 problems, the lack of coding talent and the inequality of who has access to the best schools and higher education.
“42 offers the best coding education for free and we do not care about your background, just your will to learn.
“This future of education approach will play a crucial role in responding to the needs of future industries.”