Stone & Chalk expands to Adelaide with an eye on ‘future industries’ of SA economy
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Startup accelerator Stone & Chalk has expanded to Adelaide, where it plans foster startup opportunities adjacent to the city’s space and defence industries.
S&C’s innovation hub will be set up in Lot 14, the centrally located precinct which will also house the new Australian Space Agency.
Speaking with Stockhead late yesterday from the launch, Stone & Chalk cofounder and new Adelaide manager Chris Kirk said the city was a good fit for its first innovation hub outside of Sydney and Melbourne.
“We’ve been looking at expansion, and assessing what are the opportunities across Australia and what are the strengths of those markets,” Kirk said.
Prior to the launch, Kirk said Stone & Chalk had been in talks with the Marshall state government for around six months.
He cited government support for defence and space tech as one of the key factors in the Adelaide market, as well as a strong local tertiary network of three universities. Kirk also flagged potential opportunities in agricultural and fintech.
“We’ve been very interested in Adelaide, because while it’s an early stage startup city it’s definitely one that’s attracted a lot of momentum in the last 12-18 months.”
The new hub will officially open in October, and Kirk said Stone & Chalk is looking at a “five year commitment” to the Adelaide market.
S&C is hoping to replicate its success in Sydney (fintech) and Melbourne (agriculture & medical tech) over the past four years.
In those two markets, companies based within Stone & Chalk have gone on to raise around $330m of investment capital and created more than 700 direct jobs.
Along with the ASA headquarters, Adelaide is also the home of some of Australia’s more well-known space tech startups such as Myriota and Fleet Space Technologies.
Both companies expressed optimism last December that the local establishment of a space agency will help boost international awareness for their products.
While Stone & Chalk will be based in the same precinct, Kirk said it won’t be solely focused on spacetech startups.
“There’s big change happening across a bunch of areas. Space is very exciting, but it’s also quite small — there’s 60 companies with 400 people in SA, so that will be one of many verticals that we’ll be looking to support.”
“The story is more around the entrepreneurship community in SA, which is broader than just space.”
“From now to open we’ll try and sit with key players in each of those verticals, work out what their challenges and needs and how to connect the existing marketplace with customers, capital and talent,” Kirk said.
On a broader scale, the presence of an innovation hub on the ground in Adelaide will provide opportunities to engage directly with SA’s shift away from the decline in traditional manufacturing sectors.
“It’s all about transitioning to future industries, ultimately that’s what I’m most excited about,” Kirk said.
“With SA coming from manufacturing and the car industry, now this is around; what does the next 10-20 years look like?”