Climate tech startups and scaleups to benefit from new Sydney business innovation hub

A new, affordable innovation space in the heart of Sydney is set to boost the city’s startup ecosystem and economy, create more jobs, strengthen global connections and support action on climate change.

The George Street hub will focus on climate tech startups and scaleups in particular, offering cost-effective office space that enables emerging companies to prosper and expand into global markets.

Named ‘Greenhouse’, the hub will occupy 3,800sqm across the first three floors of Lendlease’s new 56-storey tower at 180 George Street and is due to open in 2022.

The innovation hub is the result of planning negotiation between the City and Lendlease. LendLease and the City entered into a voluntary planning agreement to provide a range of public benefits including open space, community spaces and the business innovation space. The City has now awarded an accommodation grant to Innovillage Pty Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of seed investment company, Investible, to sub-lease and operate the hub to startups.

City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said creating affordable startup space would help support an important sector of the economy and contribute to the CBD’s post-pandemic recovery.

“Greenhouse is a wonderful opportunity for tech entrepreneurs and the scaleup economy to be located in one of the most advantageous and desirable locations in Australia, and for the City to showcase Sydney’s tech startup ecosystem to the world,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Technology businesses are pivotal to Sydney’s future. They create high-quality jobs, boost the local economy, strengthen our connections around the world and make Sydney a more desirable place to live, work and visit.

“By supporting our fastest-growing, sustainability-focused businesses with affordable, premium office space and access to expert-run services and globally competitive talent, we hope to reaffirm Sydney’s reputation as a vibrant and sustainable city and the home of smart, inclusive and green innovation.

“Greenhouse will help to drive the kind of economy our city needs, and I’m delighted that we are one of the key investors.”

Greenhouse will support scaleup businesses making a positive impact on the environment and helping reduce Australia’s carbon emissions. It aims to directly support more than 100 high-performing businesses in creating more than 1,500 new jobs over 10 years. It will also engage the wider tech ecosystem, create pathways for early-stage startups as well as corporate and university talent and help position Sydney as a global leader in climate tech.

Investible Co-Founder and Greenhouse CEO, Creel Price, said Greenhouse businesses will have access to a range of talent and growth services as well as investment opportunities, including the Investible Climate Tech Fund – a new venture capital fund to be launched by Investible this year.

“Emerging technology companies will play a critical role in enabling a net-zero carbon future, but they face increasingly complex challenges and require different levels of support as they scale,” said Mr Price.

“We’re designing a space that’s optimised for growth; bringing together a diverse group of investors, experts, partners and advisors to provide climate tech businesses with the nutrient capital, talent, programs and community to grow to their fullest potential.”

Neil Arckless, Lendlease’s Executive Development Director said: “The creation of this cutting-edge tech hub at Salesforce Tower is a natural fit, where sustainability and precision design are key to delivering a workplace of the future,” said Mr Arckless.

“As a company committed to eliminating carbon – on both a net and absolute basis by 2025 and 2040 respectively – we know the value in fostering the next generation of thinking to meet the climate challenge head on.”

In late 2019, the City began a call for expressions of interest followed by a request for proposals for an operator to lease the business innovation space with a set target of seven goals:

  • support the commercialisation of innovation in Australia
  • increase the success rates of tech startups with Australian based IP
  • assist tech startups in reaching overseas markets and attracting investment
  • provide a suite of programs relevant to the needs of scaleups
  • complement other existing tech startup hubs and to provide a key networking hub for the ecosystem
  • encourage economic inclusion within the business innovation space (women, First Nations People, culturally and linguistically diverse communities and people with disability)
  • for the operational expenses of the business innovation space to the City to be cost neutral.

The City will sublease the business innovation space to Innovillage Pty Ltd for 10 years and offer a rental subsidy through its Accommodation Grant Program, providing they demonstrate an ongoing community benefit to the tech startup ecosystem.

Innovillage Pty Ltd will manage and operate Greenhouse, including the running of associated programs supporting tech startups under a co-working model with support from Investible and its partners.

The City has previously supported Investible on its Retail Innovation Program – a 12-week accelerator program for retail and hospitality businesses wanting to future proof their business models and grow.

Greenhouse is expected to open in late 2022 and will be part of the new community infrastructure created by the City of Sydney and Lendlease at 180 George Street. The precinct also includes a public plaza, retail laneways, bicycle hub, public art and a new hospitality venue on the site of the former Jacksons on George.

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