Capitalising on Skills and Experiences: The Power of ACT Start-ups

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Nestled in an inconspicuous location, just beyond Canberra’s bustling Central Business District, lies Gymaware – a ten-person sports tech company tucked away behind a real estate agency and Ampol service station.

Despite its anonymity, the company’s international prestige is evident because its esteemed clients include Manchester United, Boston Red Sox and Golden State Warriors.

This sector has been rapidly expanding in a city most widely recognised for its public servants, making this concept especially noteworthy.

Boasting the most significant number of start-ups and small businesses out of any other Australian state or territory, The ACT is a hub for entrepreneurs.

From providing services to sports giants such as Gymaware to cyber security companies and Altina Drinks–a new business that innovatively combined a biology degree with local plants for producing non-alcoholic wine—these organisations have demonstrated their commitment to excellence.

In 2002, two Australian Institute of Sport technicians — Evan Lawton (with his background in sport and electronics) and Rob Schugg (an engineer by trade) — joined forces to create Gymaware from a humble garage in the north Canberra suburb of Giralang. Since then, they have dedicated their effort to providing innovative products that help athletes reach peak performance levels.

Heather Lawton, Evan’s wife and managing director of Gymaware noticed an opportunity to use the highest level research for athletes’ regular training regimes.

“Through their engineering prowess, they developed an innovative product that would enable trainers to take the advice of researchers and properly enhance the performance of athletes,” Ms Lawton said.

Gymaware’s success story has become a model for other ACT start-ups. With the right combination of skills and knowledge, anyone can turn their passion into a successful business venture.

The ACT’s unique offer to entrepreneurs is its ability to provide access to Australia’s best innovation networks and research institutions. The region also benefits from a highly-skilled and educated workforce, with its high number of tertiary graduates.

The ACT government has also put in place a range of support initiatives to help start-ups get off the ground, such as access to grants, business mentoring programs, free legal advice and tax incentives.

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