Venture Cafe Sydney Launches 21 Feb 2019

Global Venture Cafe network expands to first Australian location

New member organisation joins Venture Cafe network, focused on strengthening the local ecosystem and connecting Sydney, Australia to a global innovation community.


Venture Café Sydney has officially launched operations, the CIC Venture Café Global Institute announced today. The organization is the newest member of a global network of organisations that seek to build and connect local entrepreneurial communities and accelerate the innovation process.

Venture Café Sydney will offer high-impact local initiatives, weekly collaboration gatherings and educational events, and support for entrepreneurs, investors, students, and educational organisations. Venture Café Sydney represents the network’s second expansion to the Asia-Pacific region, and its first community in Australia, following expansion to Tokyo in late 2017.

The organization will formally launch programming on 21 February 2019, beginning with its flagship weekly Thursday Gathering event that will attract the innovation community for informal collaboration and conversation, high-impact educational sessions and themed keynotes.

Travis Sheridan - President - Venture Café Global Institute

“We are excited to officially launch in Australia and welcome Venture Café Sydney into our growing network as the eighth Venture Café location,” said Travis Sheridan, President of the CIC Venture Café Global Institute, the organization that supports the global network of Venture Cafés. “In 2018 Australia continued to soar up the Global Innovation Index and is now ranked 20 internationally due to strengths in its human capital and research capabilities. Sydney has positioned itself as a strong innovation gateway city within Australia and this is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to grow locally and scale globally.“

Travis Sheridan - President - Venture Café Global Institute

Travis Sheridan - President - Venture Café Global Institute

“Zara Crichton has been appointed as Venture Cafe Sydney’s Executive Director. Zara is a creator and is passionate about transforming local entrepreneurs’ ideas into reality. Zara’s vision is to grow Sydney’s innovation ecosystem with particular focus on NSW’s second largest business district, Macquarie Park. She is highly regarded in the area for her previous role as General Manager of Connect Macquarie Park collaborating with Top ASX 200 companies, entrepreneurs, the community and premier academic institutions including Macquarie University.”

Under Zara’s leadership, Venture Café Sydney has forward momentum. It’s already drawing back the curtain on organisations – large and small – to discover the bright minds that will inspire the beginnings of this global movement in Australia. “With Zara in this role, we also add another strong leader to our roster of Venture Café executive directors,” Sheridan said.  “We know her background, leadership and passion will be critical as Venture Café launches in Sydney’s Macquarie Park Innovation District.”

Zara Crichton - Executive Director - Venture Cafe Sydney

ZC headshot.jpeg

“I am thrilled to begin my role with Venture Café,” says Crichton. “Macquarie Park is the obvious place to deepen an already thriving Sydney innovation ecosystem: more than 80 percent of the 65,000 employees in the area identify as working in high-tech roles, it is on the doorstep of one of Australia’s top 10 universities – Macquarie University – and will be connected by Australia’s first driverless high frequency metro train system in the first half of 2019. Venture Café Sydney will delight the local community as we come together to make cool stuff happen and connect to a global network of entrepreneurs,” said Crichton.

Professor David Wilkinson - Deputy Vice-Chancellor - Engagement - Macquarie University

“Our aspiration is to be a world-class innovation district. Macquarie Park is headquarters to a plethora of Australian and global companies attracted by the opportunity to foster open collaboration together with the broader community,”  said Professor David Wilkinson. “Venture Café Sydney is an important initiative – championed by Macquarie University, its partner organisations and all tiers of government – designed to accelerate Macquarie Park’s transformation into a successful innovation district attracting entrepreneurs from far and wide. It is wonderful that CIC Venture Café Global Institute has chosen Sydney to be the first Australian site in its global network.”

About Venture Cafe Sydney

Championed by Macquarie University and Venture Cafe Sydney founding partners; City of Ryde, EY, Konica Minolta, NAB, NSW Department of Industry, Orix, Stockland and Visionary Group.

In most locations, Venture Café partners with CIC, a global developer of innovation hubs and premium shared office space, to work together to create thriving local innovation ecosystems. While CIC is not yet in Sydney, Venture Café Sydney is connected to the broad network that also includes existing CIC’s markets.  

Venture Café Sydney will build on the success of the growing Venture Cafe Global Network, which began in Massachusetts when its founding member,  Venture Café Foundation (focused on the Boston/Cambridge community), began operations in 2010. The Venture Café Global Network is now seven members strong, with over 100,000 attendees a year attending weekly gatherings globally and hundreds of educational sessions.

About Venture Cafe and the Venture Cafe Global Institute (VCGI)

Venture Café’s mission is to connect innovators to make things happen. Founded in 2009 at the Cambridge Innovation Centre (CIC), Venture Café is now a global movement of local nonprofits working to build stronger and more inclusive innovation ecosystems and accelerate and enhance the innovation process, in cities around the world. It does this through its use of programming, physical spaces, storytelling, and broad innovation engagement.  There are currently six Venture Cafe members, comprising the Venture Cafe Global Network.

The CIC Venture Café Global Institute is a public benefit corporation, born out of CIC, that operates as a nonprofit organization to support the Global Network of independent Venture Cafés. VCGI provides support in key areas including staff training, knowledge sharing, fundraising, shared systems and services, intellectual property, and guides expansion to new sites. It also deploys our flagship corporate-startup connections program, Captains of Innovation, around the world.


For statements on behalf of Venture Café Sydney:

For statements on behalf of the CIC Venture Café Global Institute