5 Brisbane scale-ups doing big things in science and tech
Brisbane’s startup ecosystem is becoming big business.
Data from the most recent Startup Muster report shows that Brisbane has surpassed Melbourne to become the second-largest city for startup founders to base their business. For the past two years, Brisbane has only been behind Sydney for the size of its startup ecosystem.
And there are no signs of slowing down. But what’s next? For a startup to succeed, scale must be achieved - and this is particularly true in the science and technology realm.
Here’s a glimpse at five Brisbane businesses in scale-up mode bringing big ideas out of the lab and into the public sphere.
Edtech startup GO1 has recently made headlines, having raised a whopping $30 million in Series B funding just seven months after a $10 million series A raise - led by Microsoft’s venture fund M12, as well as SEEK and Y Combinator. The multinational, multimillion-dollar Brisbane-headquartered business launched their online learning portal in 2015 after “identifying a big gap in the corporate training market”.
Now, GO1 has more than 400,000 users and offers more than 500,000 different courses, including 50,000 for subscription customers. They are the new go-to for dynamic cloud-based online learning for everything from workplace health and safety compliance to coding, leadership and marketing.
GO1 has doubled in size in the past year alone, opened global offices, and launched to a great reception in the US and UK markets, with continued growth in Australia. Their current list of clients includes Google, Foxtel, Seek, National Australia Bank, Telstra and the Queensland and Malaysian governments.
To add to their long list of achievements, GO1 was also recently nominated in the Brisbane Young Entrepreneur Awards 2018 and named by LinkedIn as one of Australia's top 25 most sought-after startups.
Over the next 12 months, the GO1 team plans to expand their growth into the US and UK markets while continuing to add further high quality and engaging learning materials to the Australian and global subscription packages.
Microba is tackling the 'new frontiers of medicine': microbial genomics. And their world leading technology in the analysis of the gut microbiome was developed right here in Brisbane. Recently named Emerging Company of the Year at the AusBiotech 2018 national conference, the past 12 months has seen the healthtech startup close a $7 million funding round and receive backing from high profile scientist Professor Ian Frazer.
Microba Insight™ is the only test of its kind in Australia. Unlike other tests, it sequences all the genes from the microorganisms within a patient sample, making it far superior.
Ultimately, Microba’s vision is to improve lives through a deeper understanding of the gut microbiome and “create a community of greater health”. And considering the growing body of global research that indicates the vital role of the gut microbiome in health and disease, it’s clear Microba is in the perfect position to play an integral role.
Microba CEO Blake Wills says Microba is quickly progressing towards its mission of creating life-enhancing health care products. “Using our proprietary data analysis, we’re working alongside leading health care professionals to enable microbiome testing to become a part of routine clinical care,” he says. “Through machine learning & AI, we’ve yielded some ground-breaking insights to establish new diagnostic signatures in the microbiome. Our goal is to evaluate an individual’s specific microbiome to tailor dietary recommendations, diagnose disease states, design new therapies and predict response to therapeutic interventions.”
What started as a small pilot project to solve Queensland civic-related problems has emerged as one of Australia’s great export success stories. Gruntify - GIS People’s flagship product - offers a blend of real-time data collection, location intelligence, collaboration, artificial intelligence and machine learning to transform unwieldy business processes into logical, organised actions.
And it’s proving a hit. Since its inception in 2015, Gruntify has rapidly scaled and won multiple awards, several grants and multiple projects in international Startup in Residence programs. With many large government agencies and commercial enterprises as clients, their reach is global. Two of Gruntify’s international clients include the City of San Jose and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in San Francisco, but they’re also working with many major clients on home soil, including the Department of Transport and Main Roads.
Sometimes referred to as "the Swiss army knife of data management and field work", a key part of Gruntify’s rise to success is the sheer versatility it offers. It’s widely applicable across industries - driving digital transformation in insurance, transport, public safety, aviation, mining and energy, tenancy and rental, national security and many more sectors ripe for disruption and in need of smarter business processes.
Following its initial focus and international success at the ‘top-end’ of the market, the Brisbane-born startup has recently turned its attention to incorporate innovative solutions for global small-to-medium businesses with its Gruntify SaaS offering.
“The number of mobile workers around the world is estimated to be in the order of 1.5 billion people,” says GIS People founder and CEO Igor Stjepanovic. “Most of them work for small-to-medium organisations and are still using pen and paper, but with mobile devices and internet connectivity becoming widely available this new wave of modern technology is enabling increased workforce productivity and reduced costs.”
Gruntify also recently formed a technical advisory board, counting top level executives from Oracle, Panasonic and Cubic Transportation.
Another hugely successful Brisbane born and bred company making waves in the artificial intelligence space is TrademarkVision, which was acquired by Clarivate Analytics in October 2018.
The deal followed seven years of impressive growth for the local startup, and a year-long partnership between TrademarkVision and Clarivate Analytics subsidiary CompuMark, which provides trademark research and brand protection solutions, which saw TradeMarkVision’s technology embedded into CompuMark search engines.
Using machine learning and image recognition technology, Trademark Vision offers an incredibly accurate reverse image search function that allows users to visually search image trademarks, designs and brands. Not only does this make it easier for entrepreneurs and creators to ensure their designs are 100 per cent original, and don’t already exist anywhere across the globe, but it also offers extra protection for existing brands’ intellectual property rights. And it’s a welcome solution to what can otherwise be a long and convoluted process.
Now, TrademarkVision has contracts with patent and trademark offices around the world. This includes a multimillion-dollar deal with IP Australia and the European Union Intellectual Property Office, plus other government clients such as in Chile and Georgia, as well as many global law firms and corporates.
TrademarkVision founder Sandra Mau says the recent acquisition is a “real validation” of their vision. “As part of CompuMark, the leader in trademark research and protection, TrademarkVision will have access to a global network and the largest set of trademark data in the world, which will ensure our next generation solutions reach and support trademark professionals everywhere,” she says.
TrademarkVision was one of the first recipients of funding from the Queensland University of Technology’s Creative Enterprise Australia (CEA).
Imagine an intelligent flood alert solution that offers real-time flood mapping, with real-time rainfall and river height updates, plus intelligent flood alerts offering more warning time and personalised messaging. Floodmapp is a local startup doing just that.
Created in a bid to improve safety and reduce flood-related damage, Floodmapp started out as a hobby project in late 2016. But in January 2018, the startup’s two co-founders went full time with it and since then, it’s been all systems go, including a stint as part of the River City Labs accelerator program.
“Natural disasters are costing the Australian economy $18.2 billion a year - that’s projected to increase to $39 billion a year - and of this, flooding accounted for about 50 per cent,” says Floodmapp CEO and founder Juliette Murphy.
As a water resources engineer, specialising in hydrology and water modelling, the idea for Floodmapp came to her after experiencing the Brisbane 2011 floods and then, two years later, flooding of a similar magnitude in Calgary, Canada, when five of her friends took refuge at her house.
“In both floods, people didn’t have enough understanding of where the impacted areas were going to be or enough warning time to properly prepare and save their valuables,” says Murphy. “So the gap that Floodmapp is filling is going that extra step to offer real time hydraulic modelling to produce an inundation map of where the affected areas are, in a way that is interactive. Users can zoom in and query whether their specific property will be affected.”
This means insurers can understand where their portfolio might be affected and reach out to affected policy holders; mining and energy companies can stay informed to prevent lost production; and farmers and business owners can prepare with more time and the right information to protect their safety, save livestock, machinery and other valuables.
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