Business & invest
Global business capital attracted by Australia’s lifestyle capital
Nick Nichols | December 21, 2021
The Gold Coast is a city on the move and businesses are responding with their feet by exploring the benefits of relocating to Australia’s lifestyle capital which is also fast becoming a drawcard for business capital.
The influx is occurring in tandem with a new wave of interstate migration to the city, building on the strength and diversity of the local economy.
Companies in diverse fields ranging from sustainable manufacturing and blockchain technology to logistics services have made the move recently, including one from the US that has chosen the Gold Coast for its first expansion into international markets.
Many companies have capitalised on the appeal of the Gold Coast as a place to live, work and play. Not only are some companies finding the city’s lifestyle as incentive for existing employees to make the move with them, it also helps them attract new employees to drive their expansion plans.
Businesses can benefit from many incentives provided through City of Gold Coast’s business attraction program. These include up to $2.5 million in cash rebates for capital investments, up to 10 per cent reimbursement of operating expenditure, and up to $10,000 per eligible employee or job created, plus a range of non-financial assistance packages.
We Are Gold Coast caught up with some of the newest companies to the Gold Coast to find out what our city offers to prime them for growth.
Image credit: Zonos
Image credit: City of Gold Coast
Image credit: Tymlez Group
Zonos is a US company with ambitious expansion plans, and it has chosen the Gold Coast to spearhead its international growth strategy.
The company was established in 2009 by Clint Reid, a former international account manager for a major shipping carrier, who has grown Zonos to become the industry leader in helping businesses navigate the complexities of selling goods internationally.
“We help simplify cross-border trade – everything from duty and tax calculations, item HS code classification, to navigating complex tax schemes like the EU and UK have recently put in place,” says Zonos APAC general manager Travis Robinson, who leads the team on the Gold Coast.
“We’ve had significant growth over the last year and half with our US team expanding from 36 employees to over 100, and we look to have that type of exciting growth here.”
Mr Robinson arrived on the Gold Coast in June 2021, his first time in Australia, and established the Zonos APAC office at Varsity Lakes. The company hired seven employees on the Gold Coast and plans triple that number to more than 20 this time next year.
“I’ve been super impressed with the talent we’ve brought on so far,” said Mr Robinson. “It’s an exceptional group of people, like top notch, and we’re excited about what we can do to help retailers in Australia with their international growth and expansion.”
“Australian commerce is seeing some incredible growth and we’re excited to be a part of that. It’s a global market more than ever and we are working with some great partners and we’re excited about building a great team here in the Gold Coast to help more businesses with their global expansion and cross-border needs.”
Zonos began looking for an international office in January 2020, initially in Europe.
“Then the idea of Australia came up, which was much more appealing to me for a place to move the family,” said Mr Robinson.
“We looked at the usual suspects like Sydney and Melbourne, and other places throughout Australia. However, Zonos is based in southern Utah, in the small community of St George. It’s a regional destination that has worked well for us, so with the support of Austrade, Queensland Investment and Trade, and the City of Gold Coast, the GC felt like the right place.”
Mr Robinson said Zonos ‘definitely’ made the right choice.
“As far as a place to work and live, I think you’d have a hard time finding a better spot than the Gold Coast. The outdoor recreation, the people, the tech buzz that seems to be growing, it all aligns really well with Zonos and our culture.”
TYMLEZ Group, a software developer that is applying blockchain technology to help companies reduce their carbon footprint, relocated its global headquarters from The Netherlands to the heart of the Gold Coast’s expanding Health and Knowledge Precinct.
The company, which was established in 2016 and is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, was attracted to make the move by the rapid rise of remote working opportunities, a trend that CEO Daniel O’Halloran says gives his company a competitive advantage on the Gold Coast.
“A lot of developers of blockchain want work-life balance and that’s essentially why we chose the Gold Coast,” says Mr O’Halloran. “It’s an employees’ markets at the moment, and if we were in Sydney or Melbourne we’d be up against a lot of other big companies for staff. By coming to the Gold Coast, we really have a competitive edge.”
TYMLEZ Group, which also has operations in Melbourne and Amsterdam, has set up its new global headquarters at the Cohort Innovation Space at Southport which has a growing community of start-ups in various fields of emerging technologies.
Blockchain is the basis of cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, but TYMLEZ Group uses the encrypted distributed ledger technology to ingest carbon-sensitive data to assist industry and government entities to get trusted transparency of their carbon footprint and eliminate any opportunities for greenwashing or data manipulation.
“TYMLEZ captures all carbon relevant data on a fully trusted blockchain platform and generates reports to align with industries ESG reporting targets,” says Mr O’Halloran. “We gather all the data from smart metering devices and load it on our platform where we can calculate their carbon footprint on a very granular basis. From there, we create reports for clients that, because of blockchain, entirely eliminate the risk of greenwashing.”
TYMLEZ Group’s move to the Coast aligns with Griffith University introducing blockchain study programs for students.
“Griffith is doing a lot of work in that area, and we hope to select some of their top interns to build our workforce,” says Mr O’Halloran. “That allows us to grow from the inside and it is that partnership with Griffith that is very attractive to us. In fact, we’ve had incredible support here on the Gold Cost, especially in the Health and Knowledge Precinct. There is a willingness to innovate and grow.”
TYMLEZ Group is eyeing a number of opportunities globally that target the green energy sector.
“We see incredible growth potential in these markets and especially here on the Gold Coast where we’d like to be involved, including an opportunity to help deliver the first carbon neutral Olympic Games.”
Image credit: Autex Global
Image credit: Precise Light Surgical
Image credit: BiVACORV
Autex Acoustics is a New Zealand born-and-bred company that manufactures sustainable building materials in locations around the world.
Executive chairman Mark Robinson leads the fast-growing group which was founded by his father David more than 50 years ago and remains a family-run company today.
Over the past 20 years, Autex has expanded its acoustics materials business into the US and UK, as well as Australia where it now has manufacturing facilities in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane.
Mr Robinson recently relocated the company’s Australian headquarters from Melbourne to the Gold Coast after securing a new factory at Yatala to supply the Australian and international markets. The company designs and produces a range of high-performance acoustic building products from recycled plastic that realistically imitate timber.
“All of our products are produced from recycled soft drink bottles,” says Mr Robinson. “The plastic waste is processed in Taiwan and comes back to us in a fibre form, and our factories here turn this into an acoustically efficient high-density polyester board that is exported around the world. These products look like timber, offer innovative acoustic solutions and can be recycled again and again.”
Autex Acoustics has an extensive client list in government and private enterprise, including majors such as Google, Facebook and Amazon in the US where the company has developed solutions to reduce internal noise for their offices and warehouses.
Mr Robinson, who owns the Auckland Warriors NRL team, has also personally made the move to live on the Gold Coast after recognising the many opportunities the city offers for his family and his business.
“Because of the volume of work we have around the world and in Australia, we needed to establish a new factory on the Gold Coast to help support our supplies into America and the UK, as well as the local market,” says Mr Robinson.
Autex has an 8,000sqm factory at Yatala where the company plans to grow its team to as many as 200 over time. The company has a strong track record of employee retention, with as many as three generations from a single family currently working for the company.
“We like to look after our staff,” says Mr Robinson. “It’s not only the weather that attracts people to the Gold Coast, but it’s also a place where our employees can afford to buy a home. It’s a hard place to beat.”
Precise Light Surgical is a Silicon Valley company with global ambitions, and that led the company to locate its international headquarters on the Gold Coast in the heart of the city’s Health and Knowledge Precinct.
Established in 2008 by Gerald Mitchell and Ken Arnold, Precise Light Surgical aims to revolutionise surgical laser technology with its core product, the O-PelTM system – a device that is effectively an optical scalpel.
Through O-PelTM, Precise Light Surgical has developed a novel way to safely remove human tissue in surgery by utilising a patented flash vaporisation mechanism that it says results in less injury to healthy tissues, when compared to conventional cutting methods.
“O-PelTM offers a unique and more efficient way of cutting tissue, versus commercially available alternatives,” says CEO Richard Nash, who is now based in Australia at the company’s headquarters on the Griffith University campus in Southport. “The technology has also demonstrated the capability to spare vital structures, such as nerves.”
Mr Nash says the move to the Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct (GCHKP) was a perfect fit for the company’s international headquarters.
“The Gold Coast has great resources, particularly within the GCHKP,” says Mr Nash. “When you combine this with access to other reputable institutions and partners in south-east Queensland, you really have all the resources necessary to build and commercialise technology.”
Within the next five years, Mr Nash hopes to have developed a thriving Asia-Pacific base for Precise Light Surgical that will further boost the local economy.
BiVACOR is a private company founded in 2008 by Daniel Timms, a then Brisbane-based biomedical engineering Ph.D. who was developing a revolutionary design for an artificial heart.
The company, now headquartered in Houston, Texas, is now tapping into the extensive resources found by research companies in the Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct after relocating its Australian office from Brisbane.
Dr Timms, who completed his post-doctoral training at The Prince Charles Hospital’s cardiac transplant centre, has been working on the BiVACOR artificial heart since 2001. That’s when his father was diagnosed with a condition that would gradually weaken his heart of its ability to pump blood throughout his body.
Dr Timms enlisted his father in the effort, and the two began tinkering with prototypes in the backyard shed. With pipes and valves from a local hardware store, they built a simple model of the human cardiovascular system so that they could hook up prototype heart pumps for testing.
Today, the company is progressing its research and development of the medical technology with Dr Timms acknowledging the Gold Coast’s Health and Knowledge Precinct as playing an important role on the road to commercialising the technology.
“A precinct like this is rare anywhere in the world where you have a university, a hospital and an innovation space within walking distance of each other,” he says. “We already have strong links to Griffith University where we do part of our verification testing.”
The BiVACOR Total Artificial Heart, the first long-term therapy for patients with severe heart failure, is an implantable rotary biventricular blood pump that uses magnetic levitation technology to replace both ventricles of a failing heart.
The device is intended to replace the diseased heart and restore quality of life in patients suffering from heart failure to bridge the time to heart transplant or serve as a long-term alternative to heart transplant. It is small enough to be implanted in women and children, but capable of providing sufficient cardiac output to an adult male undergoing light exercise.
“Our plans for the Gold Coast are to maintain and expand the research links with the local and national universities and leverage the advanced manufacturing experience in Australia for future device generations,” says Dr Timms.
BiVACOR also plans to build a clinical team locally to conduct its Australian clinical studies with the device.
Keep up to date with all things Gold Coast and subscribe here.