Newcastle compared to San Francisco, as tech sector gets innovative

Digital Disruptor: Josh Doolan, managing director of Newcastle company Mudbath Digital, believes Newcastle's tech sector has strong potential. He models his business on the style of tech companies in San Francisco. 
Picture: Simone De Peak

Digital Disruptor: Josh Doolan, managing director of Newcastle company Mudbath Digital, believes Newcastle's tech sector has strong potential. He models his business on the style of tech companies in San Francisco. Picture: Simone De Peak

NEWCASTLE’S promising tech sector has been likened to San Francisco –  home of the world-renowned Silicon Valley.

Josh Doolan, managing director of Mudbath Digital, said Newcastle was “a fledgling tech hub”.

“The beauty of Newcastle from a lifestyle perspective is it offers that San Francisco feel,” Mr Doolan said.

Mr Doolan, whose Hunter Street business develops apps and other digital products, said the Turnbull government’s innovation agenda was “a great announcement”.

Under the government’s reforms, early stage investors in start-up businesses will get a 20 per cent non-refundable tax offset and a capital gains tax exemption.

Mr Doolan said this approach had been established in San Francisco and its famous bay area, a place he was “besotted by”.

He said the government’s decision would create much greater opportunity for people to invest in start-ups.

“It’s like the Gen Y version of negative gearing,” he said.

The government’s innovation agenda coincided with Regional Development Hunter’s creation of a “smart specialisation” strategy.

The creative industries sector was considered a good prospect to generate future jobs in the region.

Tim Black, managing director of Newcastle company Creative Pipeline, believed the Hunter had the necessary creative skills but needed to entice the work.

Many university and TAFE graduates with design and programming skills would be capable of high-standard work, but Mr Black assumed many “do something else”.

“If the Hunter designs itself as a technical or creative hub, it will need loads of work to sustain it – probably flowing from out of the region,” he said.

Mr Doolan said Mudbath Digital was less than two years old and had “11 talented guys on the floor”.

The German health system had rolled out a health app that the company developed in Newcastle.

Mr Black said those with creative ability must “search for the work and bring it back to the Hunter”.

“With its infrastructure, lifestyle and living standard, the Hunter is in a solid position to reach out globally.”

Robotics and virtual reality were areas with strong prospects, he said.

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