The word innovation has most likely never been used so much in this country, in both political and general conversation, as it has in the last month. It’s safe to say that’s it the darling new buzzword. Finally.
And the cause of this shift? The National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA). A $1.1. billion package, delivered through 24 new policies across 11 government portfolios.
As expected, responses have been mixed. Those focussed on numbers have commented that the $1.1 billion proposed is insufficient when considering that the government spends around $10 billion a year on research funding already.
Numbers aside however, the obvious attempt to change cultural perceptions of innovation and ‘reduce the stigma associated with business failure’ is to be commended.
Unlike previous proposals from the government the ‘Innovation Statement’ does present as a well-thought-out and considered proposition, in contrast to the more haphazard approaches we’ve previously seen.
Here is what is proposed:
START-UPS AND EARLY STAGE VENTURES
It seems as though the government may finally address the deeply entrenched negative attitude towards failure in Australia.
20% non-refundable tax offsets will become available to early-stage, angel investors. VCs and other investors that have invested in a start-up for more than 3 years will be exempt from capital gains tax for 10 years. VC investments aimed at expanding existing start-ups will be eligible for a 10% tax rebate.
Furthermore, in an attempt to ‘reduce the stigma associated with business failure’, changes to bankruptcy laws will see investors in a failed venture waiting only one year, as opposed to three, before being able to create a new start-up again.
SCIENCE AND RESEARCH
Addressing Australia’s deficiency in commercializing public research, a $200 million CSIRO innovation fund and BioMedical Translation Fund will support co-investments in new companies and start-ups developed by CSIRO itself or publicly-funded research agencies/universities.
Further working to encourage collaboration between industry and research, again with the aim of increasing commercialization, $127 million over 4 years is being allocated to block grant funding. The difference here is that now income from industry and ‘non-academic impact’ will hold as much weight as merit from research excellence.
$1.5 billion over 10 years will go to the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme, which explores projects such as ocean monitoring, medical research, and advanced manufacturing.
$800 million over 10 years will also be allocated to two major scientific projects – the Australian Synchrotron and the Square Kilometre Array.
Over $100 million will go towards not only encouraging students to study more STEM subjects but also towards helping them ‘embrace the digital age and better prepare for the jobs of the future’.
Included in this is also an initiative to encourage more women to enroll in STEM subjects, with the ultimate aim of increasing female involvement in both startups and tech industries.
INTERNATIONAL TALENT AND VISION
Changes will be made to the 457 visas (Temporary Work – Skilled) system to attract more international talent to Australia and encourage international students to remain after graduating. STEM or ICT students will be fast-tracked for permanent residency.
$18 million will assist the international expansion of Australian start-ups, with global ‘launching pads’ to be established in Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv, and three other locations, to facilitate easier travel globally.
In a move requiring little to no funding, the government’s huge reserves of public data will be made increasing and more easily available. It is also proposed that the huge reserves will be made more ‘machine-readable’. Good news for big data-based businesses.
A link to the full National Innovation and Science Agenda can be found here.