The Western Australian agency Landgate has established a spin-off technology company to profit from a new cloud-based land registry service it developed to replace its own ageing paper-based system.
Advara bills its product as “the world’s first — and only — cloud-based, multi-jurisdictional land registration platform” and also claims to be Australia’s first example of a business formed as a spin-off from a government agency.
The fledgling company explains a range of benefits other government land registry agencies can expect to derive from its cloud solution. At present, the WA agency where it was born offers the only testimonial:
“Land Registry as a Service (LRaaS) has brought huge benefits to Landgate and our customers. Processing documents electronically has enabled us to deliver faster turnaround times for customers and has streamlined our business processes.”
Landgate, which already turns a tidy profit for the state in the order of tens of millions a year, expects to save a further $52 million over five years from using the Advara platform it developed, while improving the “security, accuracy and consistency” of its data.
The government agency’s CEO Mike Bradford sits on the board of Advara, alongside Ger Doyle, the managing director of consultancy Ajilon, which has about a 20% stake in the start-up. They are joined by Claire Poll, who is also a non-executive director on the Landgate board.
Paul Wilkins, Ajilon’s general manager of innovation and strategy, told a recent public accounts committee inquiry into ICT procurement and contract management that Advara was already bidding for work with other governments.
“It was a co-investment situation where we put money into the company along with Landgate, which continues to hold the IP and we are currently chasing two major procurements on the basis of that,” he said. “One is the privatisation of New South Wales land and property information and one that has just come out in respect of New Zealand.”
Wilkins said that even in the worst-case scenario where the start-up fails to win any new customers beyond the agency that spawned it within five years, the company would “simply close down” but most of the investment would still be providing a return to taxpayers.
“In the worst case, what Landgate has got is a replacement for its ageing systems,” he said. “In the best case, it has on-sold this to other people and created new sources of revenue for government.”
He also told the committee that the idea had the strongest business case he had ever seen in a public sector context.
The Australian Financial Review reports today that several more commercial spin-offs will emerge from the public sector around the country over the next six months.
Advara’s marketing spiel suggests the unique online “land registration as a service” offering is as big a change as the development of the Torrens title system in South Australia in 1858:
“In 2014, land titling in Australia had changed very little since the Torrens system was first adopted in the 19th century. Everything was still paper based. Even the IT systems supporting the hardcopy system relied on manual processing.
“And Australia wasn’t alone. Land registry agencies worldwide were struggling with the growing costs associated with labour-intensive, paper-based legacy systems. And they were struggling even more to find a suitable alternative.
“The digital age had apparently forgotten the land registry industry. Something needed to change.”