by Zach Johnson
It's out there and it's substantial. I'm referring to Turnbull's billion dollar innovation policy package. In order to make sense of this massive event for myself, I've separated each policy announcement into one of four categories:
- Taxes and Funding
- Enabling Startups and SMEs
- Education and Training
This may seem like an oversimplification but, bear with me. Category one is possibly the most tangible, easily understood and a potentially fantastic early leading indicator of future success. It includes a tax incentive for early stage investors, new arrangements for Venture Capital Limited Partnerships, further reforms to employee share schemes and access to crowd-sourced equity funding. These are all excellent initiatives which, frankly, are well overdue.
Category two is, for me, largely about elevating the quality of resources, experiences and access to partnerships for startups and small businesses in Australia. This is the most personally relevant of the policy announcement categories in terms of actual programs—even if they’re yet to be fully defined. Having lived and worked in some of the world’s tech hotspots during the first and the current dot com boom including SF, LA, New York, Boston, London and Sydney and now in regional Australia I have witnessed first hand the relativity of quality and the need to give AU companies access to world-class resources and world-class experiences overseas. I am on a self-appointed mission to bring world-class to Sunshine Coast startups and I hope these policies can play a meaningful role.
R&D initiatives along with the programs designed to educate and train from policy categories three and four are beyond my immediate scope to capitalise on directly but I can absolutely see the value, long-term impact and indirect benefits to me, to the companies with whom I work, to the community in which I live and to my children and grandchildren. Put differently, these are generationally ambitious initiatives that make me proud of the policy makers who designed them and the politicians who support them.
As Turnbull said when he took office, “there has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian”. Indeed, there hasn’t been a more exciting time for me in the past decade to be an American living in Australia!