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The Government needs to give start-ups more support

Tuesday, 07 Jul 2015

Information Age

By Brenda Aynsley on Jul 7 2015 at 11:32AM

And it can start by buying their products.

Start-ups need support and governments must lead the way.

At a consultation meeting in Adelaide this month, I heard about an ICT entrepreneur forced to seek his fortune in foreign shores after struggling to attract local funding.

A £100,000 ($200,000) offer from London proved to be a compelling incentive to set up shop there and the start-up now has more than 100,000 users globally, and is working with some of the most recognised brands in ICT.

Clearly his business case had substance, but where was the local money needed to get it off the ground? Where were the angel investors? Where were the programs to shepherd budding entrepreneurs through their growing pains?

This is an all too familiar tale for Australian start-ups and it’s a serious problem for our economy.

CEDA chief executive Stephen Martin says Australia needs to get serious about incentivising innovation or risk being left behind.

Speaking at the launch of CEDA’s Australia’s Future Workforce report, Professor Martin said: “Currently the commitment needed to link education and innovation policy with funding is appalling compared to other countries and Australia’s industry innovation strategy is woefully underfunded compared to global competitors.

“For example the five Industry Growth Centres announced last year by the federal government should be critical in driving innovation but only $190 million has been allocated over four years.

"In comparison, the UK Catapult centres have been allocated almost $3 billion over the same period. The German Fraunhofer Network, The Netherlands’ Top Sectors Strategy and US National Manufacturing Institutes have had even larger allocations.”

Australian governments have traditionally taken a laissez-faire approach to developing new technology based-companies, relying on market dynamics to drive growth.

So it was refreshing to hear Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull respond to the CEDA report by advocating the importance of building Australia’s ICT capabilities and the need for governments to lead the way in creating a culture of innovation.

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