Serial entrepreneur Bevan Slattery is at it again, announcing a new company called Soda which will act as his launchpad for investments in Australian companies pushing for digital and sustainable solutions.
The launch of Soda formalises Slattery’s vision to focus on innovation and investment in three core pillars he believes are critical for Australia’s future: digital infrastructure, startups and sustainability.
It also grows Slattery’s portfolio of companies further, with Soda joining some of Australia’s most successful digital infrastructure companies including NEXTDC (ASX: NXT), Megaport (ASX: MP1), Superloop (ASX: SLC), Asia Pacific Data Centre Trust and PIPE Networks.
In total the entrepreneur has five companies listed on the ASX, collectively representing over $10 billion in market capitalisation, as well as a key stake in 3D AI company Pointerra (ASX: 3DP).
The first pillar of Slattery’s plans is Soda Infrastructure, which is focused on the development and investment in digital infrastructure that is strategic to Australia’s prosperity and resilience at home and in the Indo-Pacific region.
Soda Infrastructure has already made three key investments including:
- Indigo - 9,000km Sydney to Singapore undersea cable Indigo with Google, Telstra, Singtel, Superloop and AARNET
- Oman Australia Cable - 10,000km undersea cable connecting Perth to Muscat, Oman creating Australia’s first direct undersea connection to EMEA
- HyperOne - Australia’s new $1.5B 20,000km digital fibre backbone right across Australia connecting all major digital hubs as well as having over 2,000 local onramps in regional and remote Australia
“I’ve always been drawn to solving some of the big problems in Australia’s digital infrastructure, having built data centres, submarine cables, competitive fibre networks, cloud interconnection platforms, and what I can see is that demand for these assets continues to grow exponentially,” Slattery said.
“In fact, COVID-19 has accelerated demand even further.
“We don’t just need to catch up, we need to get ahead of the curve to make sure we are ready for this continued growth.”
The second pillar is called Soda Ventures, which is where Slattery and his team will leverage their startup expertise to develop a global network in order to invest and support Australian entrepreneurs and high-growth businesses looking to execute an international strategy.
This strategy includes a significant stake in FiberSense, an Australian based company which has developed vibration detection and ranging sensor technology with global applications, and a variety of other public and private investments.
“Having built a series of startups over the past few decades, we are fortunate to have plenty of experience in funding, building and scaling technology businesses,” Slattery said.
“Soda Ventures is a platform in which we can help fuel the growth for some of Australia’s amazing entrepreneurs.”
Finally, the third pillar will be focused on sustainability, and will enable Slattery to work on projects that will create a better future for the planet using technology.
The first project for the sustainability arm is certainly ambitious, and will see the team establish one million square metres of environmentally tolerant reef.
The entrepreneur says this is a project he has been working on quietly with universities, and he hopes to have the research and development completed within the next five years.
Some of this work has already been done by Slattery-founded Biopixel, which has been building an online high-resolution digital video library of the Great Barrier Reef.
“One of the most valuable things about Biopixel is that we are providing some of the most extraordinary imagery to story-tellers who can help share what is happening on the Great Barrier Reef,” Slattery said.
“However, what is less well understood is that Bipixel documents natural history over time and as a result we are able see and study first-hand the effects of climate change on the reef through our vast library over the years which helps us better understand what areas are more or less impacted and why.
“It’s vital that we do everything we can to secure a future for the Great Barrier Reef, from both an environmental and economic perspective. We also need to use science, innovation and green industrialisation on a scale not seen before.”
Ultimately, Slattery said he was aiming to be carbon-neutral across the entire group by the end of 2023, through direct investment in renewable infrastructure with an initial megawatt solar array planned in the second half of 2022.
“I believe if you talk-the-talk, you need to walk-the-walk rather than greenwash through some dubious “carbon credits”,” Slattery said.
“I want to make sure we are directly investing in renewable energy infrastructure to reach zero net emissions in the next two years.”
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