The Innovation Agenda
“Innovation” is well and truly at the centre of the Turnbull Government’s agenda. Not a Ministerial pronouncement goes by without its mention.
Yesterday the Government announced that twenty Australian companies were the latest to benefit from $7.3 million in commercialisation grants assistance under the Australian Government’s Entrepreneurs’ Programme.
The Assistant Minister for Innovation, Hon. Wyatt Roy MP commented that “the projects featured in this announcement are brilliant examples of Australia’s innovative ideas, and include the world’s first Kinetic Manufacturing 3D printer and an award‐winning Wave Energy Converter system.”
Last week the NSW premier Mike Baird announced the development of a Silicon Harbour precinct around White Bay and Glebe Island in Sydney. The Minister for Innovation, Hon. Christopher Pyne said “The Silicon Harbour proposal will attract a critical mass of entrepreneurs, start-ups, incubators and venture capitalists, placing Australia at the front of the pack as the global digital economy grows.”
The Turnbull Government is pushing ahead with its Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda aimed at securing economic security and prosperity for the future, and are finding State Governments very receptive to the message.
The key initiatives of the Agenda include:
- Reforming the vocational education and training sector;
- Promoting science, technology and mathematics skills in schools;
- Accepting international standards and risk assessments for certain product approvals;
- Enhancing the 457 and investor visa programmes;
- Establishing Industry Growth Areas; and
- Encouraging employee share ownership.
CapitalHill looks at some key policy initiatives and policy processes which may create opportunities in a range of sectors.
Industry Growth Centres
The $225million Industry Growth Centres Initiative remains a critical part of placing science at the centre of industry policy and lifting the levels of collaboration between business, industry and research. The rollout of the Australian Government’s Industry Growth Centres is currently being steered by a panel of highly-experienced and internationally regarded business identities.
The Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre proposal was approved on June 26th this year. Chaired by Mr Andrew Stevens the panel is now developing the Centre’s Business Plan and the Sector Competiveness Plan. The Growth Centre will establish hubs around Australia to strengthen and leverage existing collaborative relationships, which will improve the sector’s competitiveness and productivity. Locations include: Geelong, Victoria; Clayton, Victoria; Adelaide, South Australia; Brisbane, Queensland; and Western Sydney, New South Wales.
The Growth Centres Advisory Committee is still yet to make an assessment on the proposals for Industry Growth Centres for sectors such as;
- Medical technologies and pharmaceuticals;
- Mining equipment, technology and services; and
- Oil, gas and energy resources.
The $484.2 million Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme aims to help new and established businesses meet the challenges associated with the multiplicity of tasks, problems and obstacles in building a new business.
The Government’s Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme has three elements:
- Business Management: providing support for business improvement and growth
- Research Connections: helping small and medium businesses collaborate with the research sector to develop new ideas with commercial potential
- Accelerating Commercialisation: helping entrepreneurs, researchers and start-ups address key challenges in the commercialisation pathway of bringing new products, processes and services to the market.
Research connection grants of up to $50,000 and accelerated commercialisation grants of up to $1million are available under the scheme. The application pool however remains competitive with limited spots focussing on high quality innovations.
Murray Financial Systems Inquiry
On the 20th October 2015 the Treasurer Hon. Scott Morrison MP and the Assistant Treasurer Hon. Kelly O’Dwyer MP released the Government’s response to the Inquiry. The Government has committed to phase in a legislated ban on excessive customer surcharges on card payments and in conjunction, the ACCC will enforce card surcharging rules to ensure consumers are treated fairly.
The Government is further currently consulting amongst stakeholders with an intention to put in place new legislation to allow crowdfunding for Australian business. This is in direct response to the principal challenges facing start-ups in the early stages of business development.
Hon. Christopher Pyne MP said that “Driving innovation across the country is a top priority of the Turnbull Government, with crowd-sourced equity funding a vital part of any proposed policy changes.”
Potential legislative changes could increase the pool of capital available to small businesses for the growth of innovative products and services.
Commonwealth Science Council
The Commonwealth Science Council held its third meeting in Canberra last week on 21st October 2015. The Prime Minister has publicly emphasised the importance of the work of the Council in providing strategic advice on science, innovation and technology issues to the Australian Government.
On the agenda at this meeting were discussions on the final report for the Research Infrastructure Review. The government is now formulating a response to the recommendations handed down in this report.
Also discussed by the Council Members were recommendations from the Chief Scientist’s report: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics: Australia’s Future. Members noted that there is considerable scope for new initiatives to boost innovation, support high quality education and training, maximise research potential and strengthen international engagement.
CapitalHill is well positioned to provide advice to companies and organisations on how to maximise the opportunities created by the Government’s enthusiasm for Australian innovation.
To arrange a briefing from our team, please contact Nick Tyrrell in our Canberra office on 02 6198 3209 or by email.