Businesses celebrate a golden Games

Australia's Olympic effort included more than the 35 medals its athletes will bring home - Australian equipment and know-how also played a part in London Games.

From providing the Olympic cauldron to the pitches for the hockey, more than 40 Australian businesses supplied infrastructure, equipment and services for London 2012.

And, just as many athletes are already thinking about the next Games, in Rio in 2016, a bunch of local businesses are focused on the golden opportunities even a minor role on the Olympics' global stage can provide.

South Australia's FCT Flames played one of the highest roles in London. It built the eye-catching, 204-element London Games cauldron.

It also made the high-tech cauldrons and torches for Athens in 2004 and Sydney in 2000.

University of New South Wales economist Professor Tim Harcourt, who's researched Australian companies' involvement in the Olympics, says many gain valuable repeat business thanks to the exposure.

"Particularly for small to medium enterprises, it's a chance to get a beachhead into the global market," he said.

Professor Harcourt found that of the 56 Australian companies that worked on the Sydney Olympics, 43 were involved in London 2012 and 17 of those had already begun working on Rio 2016.

Australian construction firm Lend Lease built the Olympic village, and entry to the London Olympic complex was via the giant Westfield Stratford City shopping centre complex, built by Australia's Westfield.

But it wasn't just the business heavyweights that were involved, said Prof Harcourt, who travelled to London as an adviser to the Premier of South Australia.

Smaller firms included Melbourne's Advanced Polymer Technology Australasia, which supplied the blue "Smurf turf" synthetic hockey pitches.

Adelaide Hills company Sterline Racing supplied gates for the equestrian competitions, and NSW company Croker Oars supplied oars for the rowing events.

PTW Architects, which designed the distinctive Water Cube swimming centre for Beijing 2008, also designed facilities for London.

Prof Harcourt said the reputation established by companies in earlier Olympics was a valuable asset in winning new business.

"The point of view of LOCOG (the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) was: `We have some companies that can do some things but Sydney has all these guys on file ready to go, so let's just save some time and use them'," he told AAP.

The Australian government's Business Club Australia networking program played a central role in facilitating connections between local companies and Games organisers, he said.

Prof Harcourt, who's also worked with Brazilian government officials about lessons learnt from Sydney 2000, said the next Games would further trade ties and business opportunities.

"I think Brazil sees Australia as a bit of a model because, like them, we are a `great Southern land' far away - and they look to us to see how to use (the Games) as the model to show you can run things and build a profile," he said.

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