With the tech sector being one of the economy’s key job drivers coming years, the Australian Computer Society has completed an east coast network of hubs to help industries and entrepreneurs leverage opportunities presented by the technology sector that is touching every industry.

Last week, I was delighted to open ACS’ Melbourne-based innovation hub. Located in the new Denton Corker Marshall building at 839 Collins Street Docklands, the Bay City Hub occupies an entire floor.

The investment fosters the growth of tech start-ups and provides collaboration space, services and opportunities beyond the capacity of most small businesses. Melbourne also produces more ICT graduates than any other city in Australia. ACS’ Melbourne-based innovation hub provides them an aspirational destination as they create ideas to solve tomorrow’s big problems.

The new Melbourne hub is part of ACS’ vision for Australia to be a world leader in technology talent and a nation that fosters innovation. The hub is part of the five-year 2017 strategy based around three pillars – Capacity, Capability and Catalyst. Innovation hubs has been a core part of ACS’ commitment to serving as a catalyst for the growth of the ICT industry in Australia.

Following that strategy launch, ACS officially opened the Sydney technology and innovation hub in April 2018 and in September last year acquired River City Labs in Brisbane. River City Labs is best known by its founder Steve Baxter, the tech entrepreneur featured in the TV series Shark Tank. Operating since 2012, the Brisbane initiative has helped over 700 start-up founders.

In opening the Sydney hub, ACS leveraged RCL’s experience, programs, services and events. As Sydney is the nation’s commercial centre and primary international destination, the Lab is very well positioned for success.

The three hubs provide the eastern seaboard with first-class facilities to nurture and grow tech talent. The hubs allow start-ups to expand beyond state boundaries cost-effectively and leverage the ACS’s horsepower, national coverage and international connections. We are also looking to the West for opportunities.

Among ACS’ 45,000 members, some have created, or seek to launch, their own tech start-ups. Some run tech businesses or are subject matter experts, others are chief information officers, board members or members of international bodies. ACS is a major national and international hub in its own right and source for mentors.

The investment in tech start-ups is critical to our nation’s continuing prosperity. As the global economy races into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, tech skills are paramount. The problems we face tomorrow will require more tech entrepreneurs to solve them.

Amazon was started by one technologist, Jeff Bezos, operating from his garage in a rented house. Apple, Google and Microsoft have similar humble beginnings. Elon Musk co-led the development of PayPal and created Tesla Motors and SpaceX and is Chair of Solar City Corporation. However, for every success story, there are far too many failures.

The reality is, with a little help, clever tech-people can create unimaginable magic, trillion-dollar companies, millions of jobs and highly-profitable products and services. Australia needs to elevate our tech heroes to the status of our sporting greats. We need to inspire the next generation, invest in those having a go now and spend more on R&D. With a clear national vision, there is no reason why our prosperity cannot be sustained.

The tech-industry – a powerhouse itself and a productivity driver for all industries – is critical to our nation’s future.