It is increasingly clear to people both within and outside the
Geelong community that our city has shifted gears. Attitudes
in Geelong are increasingly positive and commentary around an
emerging technology community is not hearsay or rumour - it is
real, vibrant and it is growing. There are many established
software business and IT organisations in Geelong with impressive
track records, and there are also some very exciting initiatives
about to emerge.
Runway: the Geelong start-up program is a fantastic
example of this. Aimed at creating an innovation hub in our region,
Runway is focussed on cultivating and growing emerging
start-ups. The business name comes from the amount of time a
start-up has to launch, based on their financial burn rate.
The Runway vision originally started as the Silicon Bay Project,
and the concept has now been refined and focussed into a business
plan by a dedicated team with a common vision of transforming our
region into a thriving ecosystem, supporting start-up entrepreneurs
and their commercial ideas. These ideas could be from fields
such as education, medical, technology or biotech to name a
few. Runway's philosophy centres on innovation and launching
start-ups with ideas that will create scalable and commercially
Runway will help identify, resource, support and launch high
potential start-ups via an entire ecosystem designed to maximise
success for the start-up. Over 10 years, the initiative aims to
generate more than 500 direct and 2,500 indirect jobs, create up to
70 new enterprises, more than $150 million in annual GDP and $500
million plus in cumulative asset value.
Each year, Runway will select between 10 - 15 high potential
local, national and international start-ups and provide them with
funding, co-working space, mentoring, training and business support
programs. This will enable each start-up to create a proof of
concept and prepare them for operating an ongoing commercial
business, as well as pitching for future funding to support their
The Runway initiative enjoys support across our community,
including the City of Greater Geelong, the Committee for Geelong
and the Geelong Chamber of Commerce.
Runway will be set up as a not-for-profit organisation and,
while Federal and State Government funding is required to cover
operational costs for the first four years of operation, only
private investment will be used to fund the start-ups. Runway
will become a self-sustaining business by the fifth year, with
revenues coming from the exit values of successful start-ups that
are in turn reinvested into the next round of start-ups.
Australia needs to innovate and create new industries and Runway
is on the cusp of making that happen in our region. Through
its Smart Cities Plan, the Federal Government has outlined its
vision for 'supporting productive, accessible, liveable cities that
attract talent, encourage innovation and create jobs and growth'.
The Runway initiative ticks all of those boxes. The
Government also says it is committed to 'smart investment, smart
policy and smart technology'. The Runway project, based in
Victoria's second city, has the potential to deliver all three.
Rebecca Casson is the Committee for Geelong Chief Executive
Officer. Follow the Committee for Geelong on Twitter