The WA Innovator of the Year Awards is undoubtedly one of the best events on the innovation calendar and has a long history of supporting tech startups, however the results of this years awards indicate a significant step up for the local tech scene. It was extremely encouraging to see three of the top awards heading to tech startups, namely Track’em, Newton Labs and Scancam (developed by Dapper Apps).

I first became involved in the WA Innovator of the Year awards after the tech startup I was involved in had two products reach the finals of the 2011 awards. I had an excellent experience going through the judging process and along the way gained a lot of contacts and publicity that really accelerated that product. I believe that being involved in the awards was the catalyst for that business going on to receive just under $2M in funding and government grants, so since that time I have kept a keen eye on the awards and the winners.

One of Dapper’s clients, Scancam, was the winner of the Growth Category in this years event which made the outcome a lot more significant and exciting. While I was extremely proud to see Scancam walk away with a much deserved award it was also great to see that two other major winners were also tech startups, which represents a significant change from previous years.

My experience with the WA Innovator of the Year Awards has been that while there have definitely been a number of tech startups recognised, the overall winning spots tend to go to large institutions, such as universities and mining companies. These innovations have largely been in the areas of medicine and mining, so for three tech startups to take out the major awards is a huge step forward. It not only signifies a change in people’s perceptions but is also an indicator that the quality of tech companies in WA is improving. While two of the tech startups service the mining industry that is to be expected and not something WA innovators should shy away from, mining is still a big part of the WA economy and will remain so for a long time to come.

You only have to look at the number of accelerator programs, incubators and co-working spaces popping up around Perth to see that times certainly have changed. In recent years Amcom, RAC and KPMG (amongst others) have all launched various programs focused at startups; Business News continues to highlight tech companies and WA-developed apps; Innovation Bay has started to connect investors looking to move their cash out of mining to technology; there is an abundance of full co-working spaces; and Atomic Sky are doing some great work assisting tech startups to validate and then execute on their big new ideas.

Personally having worked closely with a number of startups over the past 5 years there is a definite advancement in both the number and sophistication of Perth tech startups. With a growing ecosystem to support these innovators there is a lot to like about the future for tech startups in Perth.

Click here to read more about Scancam.

– Jesse Hill

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