2 November, 2017
StartupAUS announces board refresh, establishing
one of Australia’s most influential leadership teams
Elaine Stead, Rachael Neumann, Attila Brungs and Aaron Birkby sign up to help
advance Australian startup industry agenda
Australia, 2 November 2017: StartupAUS, Australia’s peak advocacy group for startups, today announced four new board members: Managing Director of Blue Sky Venture Capital, Elaine Stead; Investment advisor and strategist, Rachael Neumann; Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Attila Brungs; and CEO of Startup Catalyst, Aaron Birkby.
They will join current board members: Company Director & Investor Teresa Engelhard; Engineering Director for Google Australia and New Zealand, Alan Noble; Serial Entrepreneur and Co-Founder & CEO of The Beanstalk Factory, Peter Bradd; General Partner of CSIRO’s venture fund, Main Sequence Ventures, Bill Bartee; StartupAUS Chief Executive, Alex McCauley; and Company Director, Investor and recently appointed Chair of the Board, Topaz Conway.
StartupAUS CEO, Alex McCauley said the new members represent a cross-section of business and academic leaders who, combined with existing StartupAUS Directors, comprise one of the most diverse and influential boards in the country.
“We are excited to welcome our new board members to help us build a world-class startup sector here in Australia. Each member brings complementary expertise, knowledge and credentials. We’ve got representation from leading founders, investors, multinationals and universities. We’ve got a wealth of experience from around the country and overseas, and from an array of different backgrounds. That breadth of experience is really important to us, because what we are driving this agenda for the economic benefit of the country as a whole.
“We think startups deserve world-class representation, so we’ve put together a world-class board. The talent sitting at our board table represents one of the strongest leadership teams in the country,” he said.
Mr McCauley called on corporate Australia to follow the lead of the newly-appointed board members in supporting Australian startups.
“Of course, we’d still love to find an iconic Australian corporate that is prepared to step up and take on a leadership role in helping to build Australia’s new digital economy. That’s the only piece of the puzzle that’s still missing,” said Mr McCauley.
Each of the new members brings a unique vantage point to the organisation:
Elaine Stead is a venture capitalist who has spent the last decade focused on the innovation investment spectrum. In 2012, she established the Blue Sky Venture Capital Fund, which has expanded to include over $200 million in assets under her management. Elaine is a member of AVCAL’s venture capital stakeholder committee, the investment committee of ANUConnect, and the Australian National University’s (ANU) venture capital fund.
Rachael Neumann is a prominent contributor to the startup ecosystem in Melbourne and Silicon Valley. Rachael is an investor in Startmate, where she is also a mentor, and was a founding board member of LaunchVIC, a $60 million venture that seeks to solidify Victoria as a global destination of choice for entrepreneurs. She is a mentor, advisor, and board director to early-stage startup founders. Rachael was previously Managing Director of Eventbrite Australia.
Professor Attila Brungs is a key figure supporting the next generation of Australia’s startup leaders. Currently Vice-Chancellor and President of UTS, Professor Brungs has held many distinguished senior positions, board appointments and committee memberships throughout his career, spanning not-for-profit, federal government, and institutional organisations, including the CSIRO. He is a Rhodes Scholar, and a passionate and thoughtful advocate for innovation policy.
Aaron Birkby is a serial tech entrepreneur. He learned to code at eight years old and has started more than 10 businesses. As CEO of Startup Catalyst, Aaron leads missions to Silicon Valley, Europe, Israel and Asia for youths, founders, investors and innovators. He is a member of the Queensland Government Startup Working Group, a Director of the River City Labs Accelerator, and has served as entrepreneur in-residence at River City Labs. In 2016 Aaron was awarded the national Benson Award for Entrepreneurship, and the Pearcey Award for Queensland.
Professor Brungs, Vice-Chancellor and President of UTS said, “UTS is fortunate to be located in Ultimo – one of Australia’s largest start-up precincts and among the most vibrant digital and creative practice ecosystems in the world. Additionally, 40 per cent of UTS students plan to start their own business or have already done so. For these reasons we’re keen to support StartupAUS, whose success will have many flow-on benefits to the Australian economy. “
Chair of the Board, Topaz Conway added, “This board refresh has come at a really important time. On the 1st of December we’ll be launching our 2017 Crossroads Report, looking at the state of play of the startup sector across the country. We know from the work we’ve done to put that report together that this is a critical time for Australia’s emerging tech industry. The most pressing issue facing Australian startups is access to a global pool of talent, and it’s something that needs urgent attention. We’ve brought high-quality people onto the team who understand how important it is to think globally, while at the same time building a world-class talent pool here at home.”
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StartupAUS is a not-for-profit entity with a mission to transform Australia through technology entrepreneurship. StartupAUS believes a strong home-grown tech sector is vital to future Australian jobs and wealth. But getting there will require a national imperative to create the right environment, with a supportive culture and more entrepreneurs with the right skills. www.startupaus.org