5 Australian Companies to Watch in 2011
Alkane Resources: It’s fair to say that defense, consumer electronics and nanotechnology are all important industries, correct? They share something else in common, too— each relies on rare earths, or obscure metals, for specialized applications. These rare earths are becoming highly lucrative, and Alkane Resources is on the receiving end of their fast rise.
The mining company is positioning itself to ramp up production of zirconia, dysprosium and terbium at its Dubbo Zirconia Project (DZP) outside of Sydney. Thanks to recent developments by China, the world’s largest producer of rare earths, there is restricted availability of rare earth products and escalating prices for them outside of China.
These developments emphasize the strategic significance of the DZP as a supplier of yttrium and rare earths, as well as increasing sales revenues for these products to over 40 percent of total DZP revenues. In an interview with Forbes, Alkane Managing Director Ian Chalmers said he wants to raise his target for zirconia production from 6,000 tons annually to 15,000 tons to compete with Chinese output.
Windlab: Based in Canberra, Windlab has developed technology that can locate economically, socially and environmentally acceptable sites for wind farms in Australia and overseas. This unique technology has made Windlab one of Australia’s fastest growing businesses and a world expert in measuring wind.
The technology, called Windscape, is a wind resource mapping model that allows Windlab to find locations with a viable wind resource and use other data, such as power line and landuse maps, to determine the feasibility. Currently, Windlab is developing wind energy projects in Australia, including Kennedy Wind Farm, which has the potential of generating enough green energy to power more than 240,000 homes or easily enough electricity for the annual supply to houses of Townsville and Mt Isa combined.
After winning Canberra Business Council’s business achievement award for 2010, chief operating officer Luke Osborne said company turnover was growing by 100 percent annually.
Rubik Financial Limited: Rubik is responsible for introducing the “Bank-In- A-Box” technology platform to financial institutions in Australia. Through delivering all-encompassing, low-cost and flexible banking services, Rubik is now positioned to leverage the investment it made in developing the product.
Maleny and District Community Credit Union (MCU) was the first customer to go live with the system in January 2010, utilizing mobile banking, internet banking, customer relationship management and card management, as well as the core banking system. This dynamic and flexible technology allows banks to deliver even better products and services to its members in a much shorter amount of time.
According to partner Temenos, Bank-In-A-Box is expected to become the leading core banking application in Australia over the next five years and will allow Rubik to extend our services to more than 200 financial institutions there.
Ozsale: Ozsale is Australia’s first and exclusive online shopping website that conducts private sales of luxury brands to its members at discounts of up to 80 percent—the rub is that the deals are only offered for a few days only. Members build and shape the community by inviting new members via an invitation program – earning themselves a $10 voucher when each new friend places their first order.
Founded in January 2007 by Jamie Jackson, the website now boasts over 700,000 subscribers and claims to be growing at 2,000 members a day. In 2010, Ozsale received a A$14.5 million investment from New York-based Insight Ventures, an entrepreneur, software and internet investor who also dumped US$100 million into Twitter in 2009.
The $14.5 million in new funding will be used for increasing OzSale’s customer base, investing in infrastructure such as warehousing, distribution and talent, and expanding into Asia.
Spirit Telecom: This telecommunications company has made a niche in the Australian marketplace by providing a unique, alternative business model. With access to the same systems and infrastructure as the major telco providers, Spirit selects supplying partners, which allows it to deliver a ‘Best of Breed’ platform. Customers can then manage their services through bill online, making administration easier and saving unnecessary paper printing and mailing.
Whether customers are looking for fixed line, mobiles, Internet, data, private networks or cloud solutions, Spirit offers a choice of networks, a choice of service levels and a choice of monitoring and managed services.
Business Chief Legend: Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek
Ask Singaporeans who Ho Ching is, and the majority will answer the ‘wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’. And that’s certainly true. However, she’s also the CEO of Temasek Holdings, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, and one of the world’s largest investment companies.
Well, she is until October 1, 2021, as she recently announced she would be retiring following 16 years as CEO of the investment giant.
Since taking the reins in 2004, two years after joining Temasek as Executive Director, Ho has gradually transformed what was an investment firm wholly owned by Singapore’s Government into an active investor worldwide, splashing out on sectors like life sciences and tech, expanding its physical footprint with 11 offices worldwide (from London to Mumbai to San Francisco) and delivering growth of US$120 billion between 2010-2020.
Described by Temasek chairman Lim Boon Heng as having taken “bold steps to open new pathways in finding the character of the organisations”, Ho is credited with building Temasek’s international portfolio, with China recently surpassing Singapore for the first time.
As global a footprint as Ho may have however, she has her feet firmly planted on Singapore soil and is committed to this tiny city-state where she was not only educated (excluding a year at Stanford) but has remained throughout her long and illustrious career – first as an engineer at the Ministry of Defence in 1976, where she met her husband, and most notably as CEO of Singapore Technologies, where she spent a decade, and where she is credited with repositioning and growing the group into the largest listed defence engineering company in Asia.
It’s little wonder Ho has featured on Forbes’ annual World’s Most Powerful Women list for the past 16 years, in 2007 as the third most powerful woman in business outside the US, and in 2020 at #30 worldwide.
But it’s not all business. Ho has a strong track record in Singapore public service, serving as chairman of the Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research and as deputy chairman of the Economic Development Board; and is a committed philanthropist with a focus on learning difficulties and healthcare.
As the pandemic kicked off, she not only led active investments in technology and life sciences, with German COVID-19 vaccine developer BioNTech among the most recent additions to Temasek’s portfolio, but through the Temasek Foundation – the firm’s philanthropic arm which supports vulnerable groups close to Ho’s heart, handed out hand sanitiser and face masks.
So, you would be forgiven for thinking that at age 68, Ho might simply relax. But in March 2021, just as she announced her retirement from Temasek, Ho joined the Board of Directors of Wellcome Leap, a US-based non-profit organisation that’s dedicated to accelerating innovations in global health. Not ready to put her firmly grounded feet up yet it seems.