ACS, the association for Australia’s technology profession, is set to become a company limited by guarantee, in the wake of a special general meeting held last Friday.

The change, approved by 75.1 percent of eligible voting members, will see the ACS change its name to the Australian Computer Society Limited and replace the existing Rules and Objects of the Society with a new constitution under the Corporations Act.

ACS president Yohan Ramasundara said, “Today’s meeting is a strong mandate that we are heading in the right direction. I am truly humbled by the support ACS members have shown throughout this process. 

“It is a real privilege to lead ACS at this historical moment in time. I want to assure all members that our DNA won’t change as a result of this decision,” Mr Ramasundara said.

“ACS remains a not for profit membership based professional body, our core focus is on professional standards setting through the development and maintenance of core bodies of knowledge, certification and accreditation programs, and professional education. 

“Professionalism is enshrined into the new constitution by ensuring only members of the ACS Professional Group are eligible for consideration on the future board of directors, and that our membership in the governance model is limited to individuals only rather than companies.”

Since being founded in 1967, the ACS has been an incorporated association in the Australian Capital Territory. In 2017 the ACS laid out its five-year strategic plan focusing on boosting the profession’s capacity and capability while positioning ACS as a catalyst for innovation.

Following the release of the strategic plan, the ACS consulted with almost 200 elected members on the suitability and limitations of its existing association-based governance model.

After the review, the ACS National Congress unanimously recommended at its December 2018 meeting for the society to migrate to a company limited by guarantee while maintaining its not for profit status.

The October 25 special general meeting was scheduled to consider that recommendation.

Mr Ramasundara said ACS strives for technology professionals to be recognised as drivers of innovation in Australian society, relevant across all sectors, and to promote the formulation of effective policies on technology and related matters.


ACS HAS LAUNCHED one of Melbourne’s most innovative and collaborative workspaces, located in the Docklands area.

ACS president Yohan Ramasundara, launched the hub at 839 Collins St with Victoria’s Parliamentary Secretary for Jobs, Jane Garrett on July 25.

Covering more than 2,000sqm of digitally enabled floorspace, the new technology and innovation hub was developed by ACS, the professional association for Australia’s technology sector.

Mr Ramasundara said the Melbourne hub was an important milestone towards delivering on the ACS strategy. 

“We’re delighted to be able to contribute to Victoria’s vibrant technology scene,” Mr Ramasundara said. “The opening of our Melbourne hub is also part of ACS’ commitment of being a catalyst for human capital development while helping the creation and adoption of emerging technologies.

“Our strategic plan focuses on three Cs – capacity, capability and catalyst – where capacity and capability are about ensuring our nation has sufficient and necessary tech skills to achieve an economy higher up the value chain, and one which affords higher paying jobs.”

The Docklands hub has been purpose-built to drive the development of digital communities and features private workspaces, high-tech meeting rooms, large screens and an interactive media wall, with the facilities available to ACS members along with industry and government partners.

Equipped with the latest technology, the collaborative workspace was designed to create a venue where tech professionals and businesses can come together and tackle some of the nation’s pressing technology challenges, such as cyber security, personal privacy and artificial intelligence.

ACS CEO Andrew Johnson said, “We believe Australia can be a world leader in technology talent, and the Docklands hub is part of realising this vision.

“The hub creates a meeting place for Victoria’s technology community and gives entrepreneurs a venue to demonstrate their products to a broad audience, gain important insights and iterate throughout the development process.” 

The hub will house over 150 tech professionals, and along with over 50 trades employed during the fit out, brings 200 jobs for Victoria, Ms Garrett said.


THE RiverPitch Live event series took place for the first time in Sydney on June 27 at the Sydney Startup Hub, giving 10 innovative early-stage companies a platform to attract vital investment in Australia.

After a successful RiverPitch series in Brisbane, powered by River City Labs and followed by a television series, RiverPitch Live Sydney welcomed a guest list of investors, startup industry professionals and the technology startup community.

Ten teams were selected to pitch on the night to an audience of more than 100, including pre-screened investors.

“It was our first time presenting RiverPitch Live in Sydney, we had high expectations of the Sydney market,” ACS Labs CEO Peta Ellis said. ACS Labs operates Brisbane’s River City Labs, Sydney’s Harbour City Labs and Melbourne’s Bay City Labs.

“The goal was to deliver the same value as our previous Brisbane RiverPitch events for startups and investors and to provide a strategic and direct approach to capital raising" Ms Ellis said. 

“It was great to see the Sydney community of startups and investors come out to support us in our first official event powered by Harbour City Labs. We look forward to delivering RiverPitch events in Sydney as our commitment to facilitate greater levels of investment in Australian startups.”

Teams presenting on the night included Robert Bate’s Swarm Farm Robotics. A farmer from Emerald and founder of Swarm Farm, Mr Bate impressed the audience with his robotics technology farming machinery, designed to create a new farming system using lightweight, autonomous robots.

Staybil presented their team’s award-winning AI-powered software-as-a-service (SaaS) that allows organisations to reduce costs, time, workforce turnover and environmental impacts while simplifying their operations not complicating them.

Founder of Power Ledger, Gemma Green pitched the company’s technology in helping to transact energy, trade investment commodities and invest in renewables.

The evening concluded with networking and teams showcasing their products and services to potential investors..

RiverPitch Live Sydney 10 final teams were Monarc Global, Squizify, Staybil, Conpago, Superdraft, Inndox, Benchvote, Power Led, Swarm Farm Robotics and Vapar.

RiverPitch is an investment series run by River City Labs that provides a platform for entrepreneurs to present their business opportunities to a group of registered investors in order to help raise capital for the company.

“RiverPitch aims to provide a different approach to capital funding and de-formalise the search for the next investment,” Ms Ellis said.

“We are committed to fostering innovation, putting founders first and creating outcomes to ensure tech sector growth impacts our economy to produce world stage tech brands.”

River City Labs was founded by television’s Shark Tank judge, Steve Baxter, in 2012 and the not-for-profit organisation was bought by Australian technology professional association, ACS last year, in order to expand its national reach.

ACS Labs was formed, headed by serving RCL CEO Peta Ellis, and the RiverCity Labs method has since been extended to both Melbourne and Sydney as Bay City Labs and Harbour City Labs.


AFTER A SERIES of successful RiverPitch events in Queensland – with up to 15 business start-ups and scale-ups participating at each event and pitching to an audience of over 100 – the renowned RiverPitch Live event will launch in Sydney on June 27 at the Sydney Startup Hub.

RiverPitch Live-Sydney 2019 will replicate its RiverPitch Brisbane Live event series, where screened start-ups and screened high-profile investors come together in a social evening where investor-ready projects can be pitched. The event will aim to foster both the start-up and investment community in Sydney, where investor-ready start-ups and teams are connected with experienced investors.

Last year RiverPitch Brisbane 2018 helped at least eight teams – over two RiverPitch Live Brisbane events – to secure funding to progress their businesses. 

RiverPitch aims to provide a different approach to capital funding and de-formalise the search for the next important investment – and there have been 16 public events since 2012 run by the Labs Group, producing 61 alumni companies. About a third of those raised capital within a 12 month period after RiverPitch. In 2018 RiverPitch also produced an eight-part television series in partnership with the ACS, the Australian association for the ICT industries, and YourMoney, the now wound-down joint venture TV and digital channel of Nine Entertainment and News Corp’s Australian News Channel.  

City Labs Group CEO Peta Ellis said there were high expectations that the RiverPitch events which had been so successful in Brisbane would go to a whole new level in Sydney.

“The Sydney start-up scene is developing each year and events like RiverPitch will fast-track progress even further,” Ms Ellis said. “With the recent launch of Harbour City Labs in Sydney (River City Labs’ sister brand), it is a great time for us to introduce to the start-up scene in Sydney, our popular RiverPitch Live event that we launched seven years ago in Brisbane and continues to showcase start-ups raising capital.

“We are looking for start-ups and scale-ups who have a strong ambition to grow fast, and scaling and seeking investment to become nationally and globally relevant companies. RiverPitch Live Sydney 2019 will assist founders to connect and develop relationships with an elite high-profile community of investors that have had an ongoing and reputable tie with our organisation.”

RiverPitch Live Sydney 2019 applications will close on May 19, 2019, at midnight.

“Part of the application process includes providing a 90-second video pitch highlighting what your product or service is and why you would like the opportunity to pitch at RiverPitch Live Sydney 2019,” Ms Ellis said.

She said all submissions were carefully vetted by a committee of RiverPitch judges. The successful teams are then invited to pitch in front of a room full of investors on the June 27 at the Sydney Startup Hub.

Apply for RiverPitch Live Sydney 2019 at


THE DIGITAL arm of global professional services group GHD is backing River City Labs (RCL) with 100 hours of voluntary service.

GHD’s support was announced at the Australian Computer Society (ACS) Reimagination Conference on November 1, just as ACS was settling in to its new ownership of River City Labs from innovator Steve Baxter, who founded and guided the business incubator from 2012.

GHD Digital was formed by the professional services group GHD to help clients embrace rapidly emerging digital advancements to future-proof their businesses.

GHD global digital leader Kumar Parakala announced the pledge during an interview by River City Labs CEO Peta Ellis. 

“Our objective is to create value for our clients in the disruptive world,” Mr Parakala said. “GHD has more than 10,000 people, including 500 digital professionals, in 200 offices delivering services to more than 135 countries around the world.

“This pledge is part of our commitment to engage, co-create, educate and invest in the technology and innovation sector. We are committed to supporting RCL with its coaching and mentoring needs and providing startups in RCL with exposure to our industry and clients in areas of mutual interest.

“We look forward to learning more about the innovations the startups are working on, and are excited about the opportunity for GHD Digital to partner with RCL to better serve our clients and support the RCL start-up ecosystem.”

Ms Ellis said GHD’s commitment created a rare opportunity for RCL startups and scaleups.

“One of the big barriers for growth for young companies, or those in the scale up phase, is not having connections into large organisations,” Ms Ellis said. “Being supported by and aligning with corporates like GHD will enable us to propel our start-ups further and faster.

“We continue to build valuable relationships with organisations that help foster the growth of our start-up companies. We are looking forward to working together and seeing where this relationship will take us in the future.”


BRISBANE tech startup hub River City Labs will support the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Brisbane Chapter as a sponsor of the Accelerator Program in 2019.

River City Labs CEO Peta Ellis said, “River City Labs has been in the business of supporting founders and startups since 2012 through our Accelerator programs and events. It seems only natural for both organisations to work together in supporting Brisbane’s Entrepreneurs journey. 

“I look forward to sharing River City Labs’ facilities and network with the Entrepreneur’s Organisation in providing support to its Accelerator participants and EO Brisbane members. EO Members (US$1m+) and EO Accelerators (US$250k-$1m) are later stage entrepreneurs no longer in the startup phase, with thriving businesses. The partnership aligns with our vision to support founders from all stages of their journey.

“The benefit for our members is that via this partnership our connections and talent pool for mentors, advisors and industry experts and veterans has increased in size and quality significantly”.

The Entrepreneurs’ Organisation (EO) is a global, peer-to-peer network of more than 13,000 influential business owners with 181 chapters in 57 countries. Founded in 1987, EO is the catalyst that enables leading entrepreneurs to learn and grow, leading to greater success in business and beyond. 

“We are thrilled to welcome River City Labs to the EO Brisbane community and in particular to our Accelerator program,” EO Australiamarketing and communications chair Annika Launay said.

“We feel there are strong synergies between the two organisations particularly through our passion and commitment to supporting entrepreneurs. With such a strong network of business founders and dedicated professionals, we look forward to growing together towards a successful and rewarding 2019.”

The Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Brisbane Chapter was founded in 1997. The organisation represents a diverse range of industries, including but not limited to

accounting, agriculture, architecture/design, information technology, construction services, education/training, environmental, financial services, health/medical, hospitality services, import/export/trade, legal services, manufacturing, marketing, mining industry, real estate, retail, sports/fitness services, telecommunication services, television/film, travel.

River City Labs’s 12-month EO Brisbane sponsor’s support runs throughout 2019.


ACS, the professional association for Australia’s ICT sector, has acquired the River City Labs Group – including the operations of the RCL Accelerator and Startup Catalyst – with immediate effect and a determination to accelerate the iconic Brisbane-based business incubator.

ACS has committed to invest $7.5 million over the next three years in ramping up its mission to support tech entrepreneurs, according to River City Labs founder Steve Baxter.

From its creation by Mr Baxter in 2012, the River City Labs Group has led the way in fostering the growth of tech startups and scale-ups in Queensland and is focused on building the platform solutions for the world of tomorrow. 

On May 9, Mr Baxter – who made his early fortune from the astute development and sale to TPG of PIPE Networks, but is probably best known as a ‘shark’ on Ten’s Shark Tank startups TV program – circulated a call seeking expressions of interest from corporates, community groups or individuals with the vision, the capability and the passion to take control of
future operations and ownership of River City Labs Pty Ltd. 

More than 20 EOIs were received, which were then short listed first as a group of six, and then again down to a list of four. 

“We’re tremendously excited by being afforded the opportunity to grow River City Labs,” ACS president Yohan Ramasundara said. “ACS’ vision is for Australia to be a world leader in technology talent, that fosters innovation and creates new forms of value.

“We understand that new jobs growth in a digital economy comes from tech startups, and we are pleased to be in a situation where we can contribute to growing the tech ecosystem both in Queensland and more broadly across the country” Mr Ramasundara said.

For existing tenants and partners of the RCL Group, services will continue unchanged. The team will remain the same with Mr Baxter still involved as an advisor and continuing to be a major influence.

“After six amazing years, I’m truly excited to see RCL evolve,” Mr Baxter said. “When we launched this process it was about finding the right custodian for RCL, not just to maintain business as usual but to take it to the next level.

“The ACS came to the table with fresh new ideas, a compelling vision for supporting tech 
entrepreneurship in Queensland and beyond, and a willingness to invest. There are so many people who’ve
contributed so much to this journey, thanks to all of you.

“But don’t go anywhere – the job has only 
just begun,” he said. 

Since its launch, more than 700 startup founders have set up office at River City Labs. Just under 29,000 people have passed through the doors, attending more than 1,000 startup and community events. 

RCL has run programs in partnership with some of Australia’s biggest companies, including BOQ, CUA, Suncorp and Telstra. RCL is a leading provider of startup-related programs in Australia, including River Pitch, a quarterly event bringing together pre-screened startups and investors; the RCL Accelerator and Startup Catalyst.

The RCL Accelerator, powered by muru-D has graduated 28 Queensland startups including
 Travello, Maxwell MRI and Punta. Startup Catalyst takes startups, investors, corporates, tech-savvy
youth, and innovation leaders to international startup hotspots including Silicon Valley, London, Berlin, Israel, and Asia.

The ACS acquisition of RCL takes effect immediately and all team members have been asked to remain in their current roles, with ACS is committed to stability and continuing RCL’s and Startup Catalyst’s growth and ensuring a thriving tech ecosystem both in Queensland and across the country. 

ACS is the professional association for Australia’s information and communication technology (ICT) sector. More than 42,000 ACS members work in business, education, government and the community. ACS was originally known as the Australian Computer Society and now prefers its acronym because of the vast expansion of its membership and the sectors it covers.


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