Australia’s startup community welcomed the Federal Government’s recent announcement that it will spend up to $1.1 billion dollars over the next four years, promoting business-based research, development and innovation. Below, we provide a brief overview as to what the innovation boom package actually contains and what major initiatives they announced.
The Government’s Goals
A primary objective of the Federal Government’s innovation package is to help transition Australia away from economic dependence on the mining and resources boom. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, launching the plan said, “our innovation is going to help create the modern, dynamic 21st-century economy Australia needs”.
He went on to differentiate the innovation boom from the mining boom, saying that it would be a boom that could continue forever, limited only by our imagination. With Australian tech-darling Atlassian’s recent valuation of US$5.85 billion, unquestionably Australians have the drive, the creativity and the self-belief to compete on the international stage.
So, What Major Initiatives Did the Government Announce?
The innovation package aims to support startups and smart businesses, and to help them succeed by implementing the following major initiatives:
- Funding to help young students learn to code.
- $75m for the CSIRO’s data research arm, Data 61.
- $51m for to promote digital literacy.
- $48m to develop a Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics literacy program.
- $30m for a Cyber Security Growth Centre, creating business opportunities in cyber security.
- $15m over four years towards a $200m CSIRO Innovation Fund.
- $14m to encourage women and girls into the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) sector.
- $10m over four years towards a $250m Biomedical Translation Fund, in partnership with the private sector.
- Tax offsets and exemptions for investors. Early stage investors will receive a 20% non-refundable tax offset and a capital gains tax exemption.
- A 10% tax offset for investors in new early-stage venture capital partnerships.
- Relaxing insolvency laws for startups that fail, with the default period for bankruptcy reduced from three years to one year.
- A $200 million innovation fund for commercialising and protecting information technology. This fund will co-invest in businesses that develop technology from the CSIRO and Australian universities.
- $106 million in tax incentives for angel investors, who provide seed funding for new businesses.
- For Australians wanting to take their ideas internationally, $22m to fund a project with Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute, and $36m to support the “Global Innovation Strategy”, helping startups start up in Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv and other locations.
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