Report highlights need for South Australia to go from “rust belt” to “brain belt”: Weatherill

A budget boost for South Australia’s tech sector is expected, following the release of a report for the state government yesterday on increasing innovation.

The Advertiser reports that premier Jay Weatherill said the state needed to emulate parts of the United States – where Wetherill had just visited – which had successfully shifted from “rust belt” to “brain belt” regions.

Among the recommendations of the report was a state venture capital fund worth $50 million focused on emerging high-tech firms.

“The smart ideas being developed by our researchers and students need to be matched with entrepreneurs and the venture capital to commercialise them, so we can create the high-tech jobs of the future,” said Weatherill in a statement.

“This report highlights the fact we can improve the way we support start-ups by being more coordinated, and pooling the talents across our business, government and tertiary sectors.”

If followed, the report – according to its authors, Redfire Consulting – would support 350 start-ups and create 1,200 new jobs.

SA has the country’s highest unemployment, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released last week, at 7.7 per cent (compared to Australia’s 5.8 per cent).

Employment has suffered from the decline in traditional industries, with the Elizabeth Holden plant to shut next year and the future of the Arrium steelworks currently in doubt.