No growing pains for local SMEs as global accelerator announces Adelaide plans

Source: The Advertiser, 10th January 2017

CPIE Pharmacy Services is among a handful of South Australian companies which have created a combined 16 new fulltime jobs during a nine-month program that they graduated from last month.

The Growing SA Companies course, run by UniSA’s Centre for Business Growth, recently celebrated the success of inaugural participants Kain Lawyers, KOJO, Fennell Forestry, CPIE Pharmacy Services, and the UrbanVirons Group.

In addition to the job creation, program director Jana Matthews said existing revenue and profit forecasts were exceeded.

The reason for this, she said, was that executives learned how to lead and manage growth — and, importantly, how to execute a growth strategy.

“Given their predictions for 2017, we expect to see substantial growth in revenue, profits, jobs and exports in the year ahead,” Professor Matthews said.

“The companies are becoming more efficient and will be reinvesting those profits in developing new products, entering new markets, buying new equipment, ramping marketing, and hiring more people.”

KOJO chief executive Dale Roberts said when a business is confident of long-term growth, it will employ people fulltime, rather than on a contract.

“During the course, we increased our workforce by 10 people (to 85), including 3-4 positions in Adelaide,” he said.

“We’re firmly focused on positioning ourselves as a national business, so jobs created interstate will see millions of dollars of work sent back to our base in Adelaide.”

The program, which consists of three three-day modules, is valued at $30,000 per company. Courtesy of $4.2 million in funding over four years, the State Government picks up the majority of that cost.

Targeted at the state’s SMEs, companies with revenue between $2 million and $50 million and up to 200 employees are eligible. During the funding period, 240 companies are expected to undertake the course.

UrbanVirons chief executive Belinda Seddon said the strategic allocation of human resources was just one of many lessons that will help unlock future growth for her company.

“We expect that we’ll better existing forecasts for this financial year by around 15-20 per cent,” she said.

“For the last 10 or so years our revenue had essentially been stagnant.”

The impressive numbers come as US accelerator program Techstars announced its intention to launch its first Asia-Pacific operation in Adelaide in the second half of this year.

With a focus on the defence industry, 10 companies will go through a three-month program under the eye of a yet-to-be-named managing director.

Manufacturing and Innovation Minister Kyam Maher said the program would provide an opportunity for local entrepreneurs to showcase their wares on a global level.

“On the back of our Gig City and commercialisation funding initiatives, it shows we are succeeding in our mission to position SA as the default place for smart new businesses to start and grow,” he said.

Techstars founders Brad Feld and David Cohen will speak at UniSA’s Innovation and Collaboration Centre on January 25.


Group 1 (completed December 2016)

  • CPIE Pharmacy Services
  • Kain Lawyers
  • KOJO
  • Fennell Forestry
  • UrbanVirons Group