When the tabloid Daily Telegraph front page is highlighting startups it is clear that Australia is finally awaking from a long-term lack of genuine progress, investment, tax structure and ecosystem for a scale technology and innovation startup industry and national mindset. The awakening has almost arrived too late, but big benefits to the competitiveness of the national economy will follow.
The announcement by the federal Government that Australia is now open for innovation could not come soon enough. It would not have happened prior to the new Prime Minister.
The change in federal government had an immediate and significant impact. Malcolm Turnbull is clearly a PM who understands technology, and the fact that he immediately set up Wyatt Roy as an Assistant Minister for Innovation was the trigger. Roy has already led missions to Boston and Israel, and has of course announced significant changes to tax incentives and legislation.
The investment in the startup ecosystem needs to be a three way tightly integrated system between the private sector, government (state and federal) and universities. Universities in Australia have also been waiting for the trigger to invest. Like the private and public sector it also needs to change. Vice Chancellors have been calling for a realignment of research towards innovation and invention. The purpose of research by a university becomes interesting, particularly for research based universities. Is there value in allocating investments to research in the “classics”, or should a university realign funding to practical research? As an established “smart” country Australia needs to balance both.
The future of classics is perhaps an underrated concern. Whilst only one data point, the following is compelling. Of 220 Year 9 boys at my son’s school, only 2 chose history as an elective, not surprisingly STEM was massively oversubscribed.
States like NSW and Victoria are much more aggressively investing in start up and innovation approaches. South Australia and Tasmania have struggled economically and urgently need to create an incentive for innovation. They have strong universities, and opportunities for considerable niches, but will need to overcome the need to take investment from larger and more financially capable states.
Finally Australia will need to change from a financial perspective. It needs to ensure that there are more gambles and less sure things being backed from a Venture Capital perspective.
In the middle of 2015, only a blind optimist would think that we would have a government that talked about innovation and actually knew what it meant. The recent announcements are but a small step in making Australia the Smarter and Lucky Country
If you require further information, please contact Phil Hassey, Founder capioIT. capioIT is an advisory firm focused on helping organisations to understand emerging technology as the world becomes Digital. Phil may be contacted easily in the digital and real world.