Five Years On, Australia-US Free Trade Agreement Results

January 29, 2010

Australia and the US signed a free trade agreement (FTA) in January 2005. While many Australians have been critical of the agreement, and many Americans unaware that such an agreement even exists, according to The Australian, the agreement is working — for both sides; specifically the Australian workforce and the US investment community.

A key provision of the agreement was the relaxation of the threshold requirements for US investors to seek Foreign Investment Review Board approval before investing in Australia.

The results are clear.

According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data, total US investment in 2005 was just shy of $334bn and has increased by an average of $20bn a year, reaching $418bn by the end of 2008.

US investment into Australia has “helped foster industries of the future” — and create jobs for Australians as well as help Australia ride out the global financial crisis. (Americans may find this last point interesting, to say the least.)

Meanwhile, the FTA has brought tens of thousands of Australians into the US on the two-year, indefinitely renewable E-3 work visa, one of the most preferential work visas on the block.

America continues to rely on foreign workers to fill gaps in its workforce, particularly in the high-tech sector. The H1-B visa cap is often cited as problematic by the tech industry in how it limits the number of skilled workers that can enter the US each year. The E-3 gives Australians a leg up on this competition.

And, again, while some Australians complain that the E-3 will lead to a “brain drain”, the idea is that the experience Australians gain while working in the US will be put to good use when these skilled workers return home and apply their knowledge to existing Australian companies, or start up new businesses. Doubters need to look no further than how the H1-B cap and economic downturn in the US has forced many Chinese and Indian workers from Silicon Valley to return home in the past year and the upturn in those economies and local industries.

To read the rest of the results of the Australia-US FTA, “Free Trade Brings Heaps of Benefits”, click here. To learn more about other US free trade agreements, click here.

Australian Association of Angel Investors (AAAI) National Angels Conference, Feb 17-19, Adelaide

January 28, 2010

It’s the Year of the Angel according to AAAI, and it’s good to see a full-on, three-day gathering of Australian, New Zealand and North American angel investors and those who work closely with them in Adelaide, February 17-19. Angel investors, or those who are considering such a role investing in Australian or New Zealand companies are invited to attend.

ANZA CEO Viki Forrest will speak on Australian Trends in Corporate Investment and Innovation. Other speakers include ANZA board member Andy Hamilton (Angel Association of New Zealand), Larry Lopez (former ANZA board member and CEO, RedDog Capital from WA), Bob Christiansen (Southern Cross Venture Partners), Alan Noble (Google Australia) and many more.

Click here for details and registration information.

ANZA TechNet CEO Viki Forrest Meets “The Scobleizer”

January 22, 2010

Robert Scoble, "the Scobleizer" meets ANZA TechNet CEO Viki Forrest after the G'Day USA Australian Innovation Shoot Out this week. Photo courtesy of KazzaDrask Media. All rights reserved.

It wouldn’t be Friday if we didn’t toot our own horn. Thanks to Innovation Shoot Out PR company Nyhus Communications, ANZA accompanied Shoot Out winner Khimji Vaghjiani of Solar-Gem to his interview with Robert Scoble (see post below). ANZA is featured around the 9-minute mark talking about how we worked with the Innovation Shoot Out companies to prepare them for their presentations in Silicon Valley. It was a great opportunity to support these top 7 Australian entrepreneurs as chosen by the states of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia. Click here to watch the Scoble interview with Solar-Gem.

Australian Startup Solar-Gem Brings Light to the World’s Poor

January 21, 2010

Solar-Gem CEO Khimji Vaghjiani won the 2010 G'Day USA Australia Innovation Shoot Out for New South Wales, and was interviewed by Robert Scoble. Photo courtesy of KazzaDrask Media. All rights reserved.

Part of the prize package Khimji Vaghjiani and Solar-Gem receive for winning this year’s G’Day USA Australia Innovation Shoot Out at Microsoft in Mountain View, CA the other day is a public relations package from the Shoot Out PR provider, Nyhus Communications. First stop for Solar-Gem after the competition was a visit with Robert Scoble, who blogs and tweets about technology innovators and how they run their businesses under the well-known moniker,  “Scobleizer”.

Click on the photo above — or here — to watch the Scoble interview with Solar-Gem, and to learn more about their modular solar-powered off-grid lighting and electricity systems, pre-pay tariffing systems, and high-efficiency LED lighting modules targeting the 1.6 billion people without access to power. The need for this technology around the world was made increasingly apparent this week with the devastation caused in Haiti by recent earthquakes, and the struggle Haiti will have to bring clean — and safe — power to its people as the country recovers.

Solar-Gem Wins 2010 Australian Innovation Shoot Out

January 20, 2010

Mark Anderson, CEO of Strategic News Services (right) presents the 2010 Australian Entrepreneur of the Year award to Khimji Vaghjiani, CEO of Solar-Gem from New South Wales. Photo courtesy of KazzaDrask Media. All rights reserved.

G’Day USA: Australia Week 2010 today announced that Solar-Gem, a company from New South Wales, won the 2010 Australian Innovation Shoot Out, a competition to promote Australian innovation by showcasing the country’s most pioneering technology companies. The 4th annual Innovation Shoot Out was hosted at Microsoft’s Mountain View, Calif. campus.

Solar-Gem provides modular solar-powered off-grid lighting and electricity systems, pre-pay tariffing systems, and high-efficiency LED lighting modules targeting the 1.6 billion people without access to power.

ANZA Technology Network was an in-kind sponsor of the event and provided 100 hours of coaching to the seven state finalists to get their presentations ready for a US audience. One of the prizes Solar-Gem will receive as the winner of the Shoot Out is a slot in this year’s Gateway to the US program, or credit toward participation the Fast Track to the US program.

“Participating in the Innovation Shoot Out was an extremely valuable opportunity. The advice, feedback and guidance we received from everyone involved gives us the building blocks we need to work towards our goal of breaking into the US market,” said CEO and co-founder, Khimji Vaghjiani, Solar-Gem. “We look forward to putting this advice into action and continuing to build on the success we’ve already experienced.” (Read more)

See more photos of the event here.

Leading Tech Influencer Mark Anderson on Australian Innovation

January 19, 2010

Mark Anderson, who will chair the judging panel and speak at tomorrow’s G’Day USA Australian Innovation Shoot Out at the Microsoft Campus in Silicon Valley, has written a blog post on his take on Australian innovation — and what the US might be able to learn from Australia’s pro-innovation environment, where government and industry work closely in tandem to position themselves globally.

You can read Mark’s post on his blog, “A Bright Fire” here.

ANZA TechNet is a partner in the Shoot Out, having coached the seven Australian state finalists competing for the Australian Innovator of the Year award at this sold out event.

Watch this space for more coverage of the event and follow it in real-time tomorrow, January 20, starting at 8 am on Twitter at @AUS_Innovation (#ISO_2010).

The Richter Scales: “In the Valley”

January 15, 2010

A little fun for Friday — The Richter Scales poke fun at Silicon Valley at last week’s TechCrunch Crunchies Awards, to the tune of “At the Copa Cabana”.