Green tech plans to restart economy

Australian tech startups should embrace clean energy as the economy slowly recovers, says the Chair of Tesla Inc, who will address Sydney entrepreneurs next month.

Robyn Denholm, the Australian successor to Elon Musk as chair of the electric cars, solar panels and clean energy storage giant is among three business leaders who will take part in the City of Sydney visiting entrepreneur program.

Ms Denholm said after almost three decades of prosperous economic growth with heavy reliance on fossil fuels, a post-Covid-19 landscape is the ideal time to steer Australia towards clean energy.

“I think rebuilding the economy post bushfires and Covid, it’s a unique point in time when the business leaders, consumers and political leaders can really change the fabric as we go forward,” Ms Denholm said.

“We’ve had 29 years of good growth as a country. I think we should be using this pause that’s happened in the economy to really change the trajectory and the vector of the economy towards more sustainable energy solutions and electric vehicles. We should be planting the seeds now for the next 30 years of growth.”

Since its 2017 inception, the program has brought high-profile international entrepreneurs to Sydney to share their expertise and knowledge with our local tech startup community.

Through talks, mentoring sessions and workshops, the program has delivered 66 curated events for over 5,400 people involved in local tech startups.

Due to the unprecedented global crisis, this year’s event will be run online, with speakers presenting their thoughts and ideas through webinars.

The talks will focus on clean energy and sustainability and feature talks from Tesla Inc chair, Robyn Denholm; CEO of New Energy Nexus, Danny Kennedy and founder and CEO at Sunfed, Shama Sukul Lee.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the City’s series of online talks from international business leaders will help local startups grow and adapt to an evolving post-Covid-19 global business world.

“As businesses all around the world grapple with the idea of recovery after Covid-19, we have a critical opportunity to reimagine our future and ensure a green-led recovery,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Sydney is the startup capital of Australia, and we want to ensure our ecosystem is as green and sustainable as possible.

“The City of Sydney has a long record of taking bold and evidence-based climate action, and from July 1 our operations will be powered by 100 per cent renewable electricity, sourced from renewable energy farms in rural NSW.

“I look forward to seeing what our local tech startup community can deliver in the fields of clean energy and sustainability during the visiting entrepreneur program.”

Danny Kennedy said even though clean energy startups faced an uphill battle against the status quo of Australia’s fossil fuelled economy, the financial benefits are worth the hardships.

“I think energy is the commanding heights of the economy. It’s very valuable to society,” Mr Kennedy said.

“Australia has a great history. We’re pioneers in solar and not just the deployment of it over the last decade.”

Ms Denholm said the City’s push for green technology bolstered by a swathe of local tech industries created an ideal starting pad for startups.

“I think Sydney really does have the potential and also has got some very good tech innovation bones, if you like. I came out of the tech industry here in Sydney. From my perspective, we’ve got a really good education system,” Ms Denholm said.

“The universities in and around Sydney are world class. We have a great multicultural population and the smartest minds focused on different technology challenges.”

The visiting entrepreneur program will take place from Wednesday 10 June to Wednesday 24 June.

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