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Tech titans converge on Perth for the next big thing

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Australia’s longest running tech and innovation festival, West Tech Fest (WTF), returns to Perth from Monday 4 December to Friday 8 December, bringing together startup founders, business owners and prospective investors from across the country and beyond, to inspire the next generation of startup superstars.

Now in its 12th year, the five-day ‘Founder First’ festival will be held across Perth and Fremantle and will host headline speakers including SVB Capital co-founder Aaron Gershenberg, SafetyCulture founder Luke Anear, Co Ventures general partner Maxine Minter and Goterra founder Olympia Yarger.

The program is expected to be bigger than ever with the annual conference, West Tech Main, taking place across two stages for the first time this year. Nexus will explore connections between global industries, experts, and ecosystem whilst Horizon will look at the next wave of tech.

Minister for Innovation and the Digital Economy, the Hon Stephen Dawson said the festival is a fantastic platform for Western Australia’s rapidly growing start-up scene to shine and make ideas happen.

“West Tech Fest presents a unique opportunity to showcase Western Australian innovation and innovators as we look to further diversify our local economy,” Minister Dawson said.

“The Cook Government, through its New Industries Fund, has supported this important networking event as Premium Partner of West Tech Fest with a $500,000 sponsorship over the past two years.

“If you’re interested in innovation – get along to West Tech Fest and hear from an exciting array of speakers from the 4-8 December, right here in Perth.”

Seasoned U.S. venture capitalist Aaron Gershenberg said he’s excited to return to Perth for the festival that gets innovators and investors talking.

“I was at West Tech Fest 10 years ago when I met Canva co-founders Melanie Perkins and Cliff Obrecht. I loved the energy, entrepreneurial spirit, and potential, all while being surrounded by the unparalleled beauty of Perth. I’ve seen it, I’ve watched it, and I’m so excited to be coming back,” Mr Gershenberg said.

In addition to world class speakers sharing their triumphs and challenges, new to WTF in 2023 are:

  • West Tech Coast – an immersive beachside conference at Port Beach showcasing how corporates and startups can leverage technology to achieve sustainable development goals; and
  • West Tech Youth – a free, publicly accessible dedicated Youth program featuring the Young Entrepreneurs Showcase to be held during West Tech Fest’s Innovation Showcase to inspire the next generation of startup founders.

WTF favourites West Tech Women, West Tech Main and Freo Startup Fest will also return.

Initiated by Curtin University, Executive Director of Commercialisation and co-founder of West Tech Fest Rohan McDougall said WTF 2023 is a celebration of the spirit of innovation.

“Together with our partners, West Tech Fest delivers something for anyone who has ever dreamed of entrepreneurship while nurturing an ecosystem of like-minded people and a culture of collaboration. We are all driven by the same goal – a diversified, vibrant WA economy that celebrates innovation, investment and entrepreneurship,” Mr McDougall said. 

This year West Tech Fest is set to grow even more with the City of Perth committed to an expanded and extended three-year partnership, having sponsored the event since 2017, positioning Perth as the home for Western Australia’s rapidly evolving technology, innovation and start-up ecosystem.

West Tech Fest is proudly supported by the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation’s New Industries Fund, the City of Perth, Think and Act Differently (TAD) powered by BHP, and a number of other organisations committed to supporting WA’s innovation driven ecosystem.

Key speakers announced today:

Aaron Gershenberg: as a seasoned venture capitalist and technology entrepreneur, Aaron has a wealth of experience identifying and investing in innovative startups. For the past 23 years, Aaron has built a global fund of funds for SVB Capital, owned by Silicon Valley Bank’s SVB Financial Group. During that time, he has raised more than $10B focused on synergies with SVB and highly differentiated products. His expertise is evaluating venture capital funds and growth funds globally.

Luke Anear: started with a garage and an idea in North Queensland, and now runs a global billion-dollar business. SafetyCulture is an international technology company that helps frontline teams find better ways of working. The SafetyCulture platform powers over 1 billion checks a year, approximately 75,000 lessons per day, and informs millions of corrective actions. Luke has turned SafetyCulture into a tech unicorn that’s attracted 70,000 businesses onto its platform and more importantly, helped transform workplaces worldwide.

Olympia Yarger: is an Australian climate action warrior, a maggot farmer, and founder of Goterra, a company that focuses on sustainable food production by using cutting-edge technology to turn food waste into protein-rich animal feed and fertilizer. Olympia’s entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to sustainability have earned her numerous awards and recognition, including being named Australian of the Year for the Australian Capital Territory. She even has a species of fly named after her.

Maxine Minter: has always been fascinated by two critical aspects of business; the fuel of early investment and the steering wheel of executive coaching. She is the founder and General Partner (GP) of Co Ventures, the first venture fund in Australia led by a solo female GP and the country’s first dedicated pre-seed fund. Maxine also founded Co Lab, a platform that pairs fast-growth startup founders and CEOs with top-tier executive coaches. These coaches have guided leadership teams at global giants such as Notion, Linktree, Segment, and Plaid.

Bill Tai: as a venture capitalist, Bill’s early-stage funding of startups has led to over 20 of his companies becoming listed companies via initial public offerings (IPO’s) primarily on NASDAQ. Beyond his role as an investor/board director in projects he has backed, he is an entrepreneur, having served as co-founding Chair of Treasure Data and MetaGood Inc, founding Chair of IPinfusion and iAsiaWorks, and currently serves as Chair of Hut8Mining. He co-founded West Tech Fest with Rohan McDougall, Larry Lopez and Paula Taylor after discovering the vast opportunities in Western Australia on a kite surfing trip in 2011.

West Tech Fest 2023 Program Highlights:

What Lies Ahead: 2024 Trends for Australia’s Investment Scene

Westward Bound: Scaling Startup Companies from Western Australia

Tech for Good

  • Horizon Stage at West Tech Main on Wednesday 6 December
    Steve King (Atlassian Foundation)

Fireside Chat with Bill Tai and special guest

  • West Tech Coast on Tuesday 5 December

Unleashing Your Entrepreneur Potential Panel

Clean Tech Panel

Tickets to West Tech Fest 2023 are now on sale at

Find out more about West Tech Fest here.

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