Hen House was thrilled to one of the community partners for SouthStart 2021 – a set of experiences that will go down in history and conversations will be had where those days in May will be a reference point for legacy moments in the start-up ecosystem in Australia. I was so grateful for the opportunity to be involved in so many ways. In the development of the program, providing advice feedback and referrals for content. As the program emerged, I was pleased to promote, share, and generally encourage participation in all kinds of ways – volunteering, presenters, ticket holders and influencers. My own contributions in the program as presenter, participant, co-producer, listener, and learner were all valuable and invited me to stretch my thinking, networks, and capability. And post the event I am getting pings, photos and ideas bubbling up all around me. I am sure my reflections will continue for some time to come! We all start from where we are and that is perhaps what I appreciated about SouthStart the most, the ability to find voice and thought that I could meet and then taken a step or two further.

The theme of SouthStart was Emergent, a perfect theme to reflect what is rising in the ecosystem, which is emerging still and not yet fully formed. There are some pieces missing in the ecosystem in my view. There is yet to be a place-based impact investment fund which has SA at its centre. I also think we need a social enterprise strategy to advance that part of the puzzle to support social entrepreneurs and like a fund drive impact and jobs; especially jobs for those who are not being taken up fully by the existing economy. There is still not enough of a pipeline of female founders and founders from diverse backgrounds and in turn not enough investing into their businesses. The ecosystem is full of buzz about collaboration and while this is a practice and a discipline, it is not an outcome. The role of research and development by our publicly funded institutions and privately invested and philanthropically supported such as universities, CSIRO, SARDI, SAMHRI and the like need more respect and visibility in the role they play, in the key emerging industries such as agri-tech, space and defence.

In my “food for thought” session at SouthStart (between a glorious welcome from Karl Telfer to Kaurna country and Premier Steven Marshall to SouthStart and South Australia) I said that this is not a time to “build back better” or reform or review dysfunctional systems. Because these are the systems that exist on the backs of colonisation, not factoring in the free labour of women, and ignoring the value of other species and the intangibles of the commons. Without factoring in these variables and holding on to a growth at all costs expansionist, extractive world view, we will not be able to address and face honestly the existential crises of climate, race, and gender.

We need new systems, inclusive and diverse systems, new ways of working together and these are emerging. Innovators, entrepreneurs, inventors and investors in public, private and community spheres are collaborating and let us see what we can make together so we get to a future that is inclusive and equitable.

Thanks SouthStart 2021 for supporting us to be in the mix.

We are here to help with the gender bit and cannot wait to meet you in this messy middle as we find our way out of the chrysalis.Join the movement! Follow the buttons!

Find out more about _SouthStart21: SouthStart LinkedIn