Rust 490’s Story

Rust 490’s foundational inspiration in 2014 was creating a unique space in Darwin, enabling people, ideas, and communities to collide and flourish through fearless dialogue, teamwork, creativity, and clever technology, with an alliance led by Jude Ellen.

First opening as a drop in creative co work, coffee, events and ideas space at 4/90 Woods St Darwin, Rust 490 quickly became a hub for entrepreneurship and creative start up thinking.

The Rust 490 entrepreneurial network offered people a hand in using the power of ideas, technology, co-thinking and diversity to create or replenish a business, a team, a partnership, or a community, always with a lens on financing, connecting to make stuff happen –

  • Co-founded the Darwin Freelancers and Entrepreneurs’ Meet up.
  • Co-created IdeasFest the first innovation community festival hackathon in Darwin, with events subsequently co-run for IdeasFest Top End Women, IdeasFest Tourism, IdeasFest Indonesia, and IdeasFest India, using different hackathon methods
  • Catalysing the start of the Darwin Innovation Hub and supporting its establishment
  • Working with national and regional start up networks kick-started by Regional Pitchfest, with Jude Ellen named one of ten national innovation activators by Australia Post Regional Pitchfest
  • Helped run the first Techstars Start-up Weekend in the NT, and the first national GovHack in the NT (continuing every year)
  • Partnered to create the Hive at Nightcliff, the first NT screen industry hub co workspace.

Rust 490 flexed over the years to meet opportunities, connecting and collaborating, creating an emerging national presence, and self-financing, although a viable business model based remained elusive given the small scale and oddities of the local eco system and of the regional economy.

  • Closed Rust 490’s physical co workspace in a local economic downturn in 2018-19, moving base to a creative dynamic messy shared warehouse space in fringe CBD Darwin not open to the public, and reshaping Rust 490’s  business model around services
  • In 2019 scoped a new co work warehouse concept, confirming an operational model after successful expressions of interest. COVID in 2020 abruptly terminated its opening–a business model built on the foundation of a new physical space was no longer a viable proposition.  
  • As 2021 and 22 unfolded the landscapes for innovation, entrepreneurship, start up thinking and financing since the onset of COVID held unforeseen twists and turns, yet Rust490 continued its advisory and mentoring role while riding roller coasters, and regenerating. Jude Ellen became an Innovation Advisor for Innovation Territory, the Northern Territory Government’s flagship program.
  • 2022 held special challenges – it became a year of personal immersion for Jude Ellen as a carer in the world of home-based aged support and residential care in Sydney. This experience reactivated earlier professional expertise in aged care policy and in home-based support, adding contemporary insights into economic and impacts analysis of systemic fragility, the lack of viability of home-based aged care financing, and the extraordinary role of the unpaid carer workforce across Australia.

Now in 2023 Rust 490 is refreshed, committed to helping people and their ideas to flourish through inquiry, imagination, creativity, partnering and collaboration, recalibrating creative spaces.