Building A Bridge Between Australia and Utah

This article was published in the Fall 2019 issue

by Jessica Richman, Director, Investment at Australian Trade Commission

When I touched-down in Salt Lake City one of my first thoughts was, where can I get a good cup of coffee? As an American working for the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (part of the Australian Federal Government) in San Francisco, I have become a bit of a coffee aficionado; Australians love their coffee. After a quick Internet search I came upon Alpha Coffee, a veteran and military-spouse owned café, nestled in the hills of Cottonwood Canyon. Sitting in that café, enjoying my delicious coffee and the gorgeous view, I reflected on some of the similarities between Utah and Australia.

To begin with, both have work-hard play-hard cultures which put a high value on quality of life. Whether you finish up the day in Lehi and go for a hike in the mountains because the sun is still out, or you wake up for a quick surf in Manly (a beach in Sydney) before heading to work, both locations place a high priority on enjoying life and working as efficiently as possible in order to do so.

Over the next few days in Utah, I noticed some other similarities. A large part of Utah’s economy is comprised of coal mining, cattle ranching and government services. Australia’s economy is also comprised of services, mining, and agriculture. The government services sector in Australia plays a particularly large role and is a key driver for software companies looking to expand into Australia in order to leverage government spending. Both Utah and Australia have traditionally been extraction-based economies, which are transforming quickly towards a focus on technology and knowledge-based growth.

Given the similarity, it is no surprise that Utah businesses have found growth and success in Australia and vice versa. Utah tech companies are flocking to Australia, and it doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. Podium's office is scaling quickly in Australia and according to LinkedIn, Domo has 51 employees and Qualtrics has 134. In 2018, InMoment expanded into Australia with the acquisition of brandXP in Melbourne. In 2019, Simplus acquired Salesforce's first partner in Australia, Sqware Peg.

Although Australian companies in the mining space have been around for decades in Utah, high-growth Australian companies are choosing to establish themselves in Utah. GO1, an Australian company funded by M12 (Microsoft Ventures), opened a Utah office earlier this year. Even Rio Tinto, the Australian mining company based in Utah, now has an innovation center. The influx of Australian tech companies into Utah is nascent but sure to scale quickly.

Utah and Australia each have thriving aerospace and defense industries, and clear capabilities in the advanced materials sector. Australia and the United States celebrated the 100th anniversary of our troops serving together on the 4th of July 2018. It was the first time our troops fought side by side in an offensive action, at the Battle of Hamel on France’s Western Front. American soldiers fought under the command of one of Australia’s most revered military leaders, General Sir John Monash. Our efforts helped turn the tide of the First World War. Today, the bonds our countries have built serving alongside one another in every major conflict, as well as strong capabilities that Australia and Utah have in these sectors, lay the foundation for deeper economic ties between our countries, which can continue to drive these industries.

Aside from strong and growing economic ties, what Utah and Australia share is a strong sense of community comprised of kind and humble people. When a company chooses to establish an office halfway across the word, kindness and community are two key ingredients that help make the process smoother and more enjoyable.

My last morning in Utah, I left my hotel in Draper and funnily enough passed by Rio Tinto Stadium on my way to get brekkie (breakfast in American lingo) at Campos coffee. Campos is an Australian coffee shop that first launched in Park City in 2016 and now has a second location in downtown Salt Lake City. Eating at Campos, I experienced a slice of Australia in the heart of Salt Lake City. I know that when Utahns come to Australia, we can also make them feel right at home.

At the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, my role is to help American tech companies expand to Australia whether you are looking to establish an R&D operation, sales office, APAC headquarters, or any and all of the above. My team and I will be thrilled to help! Please do not hesitate to email me at

Read the rest of the articles in the Fall 2019 issue of Silicon Slopes Magazine


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