On 7th of December, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the Government’s Innovation Statement – a platform of 24 policies costing $1.1 billion over four years and covering 11 portfolios. The statement is a major shift from innovation being less tangible and more in the realms of white papers and recommendation documents, to a practical approach that appears to acknowledge and understand what comprises the Startup ecosystem and how best to support it while getting out of the way.
There’s a broad range of policies being mooted that hit a number of areas in the ecosystem rather than focusing on just one as historically been the case. In particular, the funding to support incubators and accelerators is welcome, as this is the infrastructure that helps to improve the chances of success for startups. The tax breaks can stimulate investment in Tasmanian businesses and may actually offer Tasmanian high net worths a gentler risk landing in breaking out of the traditional bricks and mortar funding that has traditionally been the ballywick of Tasmanian investment.
While there's not anything specifically targeted at Tasmania in the package, the package as a whole represents an opportunity for Tasmanian entrepreneurs to get some extra support through the various programs on offer. Like entrepreneurship itself, there's no free handout here, if Tasmania wants to benefit from these announcements, we're going to have to work for it.
Happily, the alignment with early indicators from State Government is that focus is on supporting early stage startups which mean that getting some capacity and skills in the State and retaining them means there is a succession plan for transitioning this state into an ‘ideas economy.’ Equally, the Entrepreneurship Visa gives a pathway for Tasmania to keep our many international students that want to stay after their post graduate education at UTAS, and also for international entrepreneurs who choose to embrace all of the lifestyle benefits of Tasmania to come and remote work while living the dream of connectivity, lifestyle, affordability and infrastructure.
One of the key indicators that is being addressed at a Federal level is education and the inclusion and participation of women in STEM. Startup Tasmania is strongly committed to equity and representation in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and we support this notion wholeheartedly. The bankruptcy changes from 3 years to 1 year are the beginning of a conversation not had in Australia like it is in the US where failure is celebrated – and funded. This shift in ideology may in fact be one of the biggest intangible changes to getting skilled people embracing the learnings of the sector and dusting themselves off for another go.
All in all, a big moment for the Startup community nationally and at a State level, where the work of many to raise the awareness of making the ecosystem strong and stable has translated to a policy level that has some power. Startup Tasmania will be keenly watching how the roll out plays out, and participating as vigorously as possible. We are also looking forward to the response from the Tasmanian State Government and working closely with all our stakeholders to highlight Tasmania punching above its weight from ideas, all the way to commercialization.