StartupAUS, the peak body representing the Australian startup community, handed over its first three policy recommendations to the Australian government this week, but founders and investors also have many ideas for longer-term changes.
The initial suggestions were focused on short-term, quick changes that could be made with the aim of getting the ball rolling.
They included income and capital gains tax incentives for early-stage startup investments, the doubling of R&D tax concessions and a director liability exemption.
Aussie founders and investors have welcomed these suggested reforms, but say the government has a lot more work to do in this area, with education, regulation and incentives put forward as key concerns in the longer term.
Nurturing Australian talent
Angel investor Renata Cooper says innovation education must be a central focus of the federal government.
“The government should be considering education of children for entrepreneurship as a viable career opportunity from a young age,” Cooper says.
“Only then will we get the best talent working here and more important, staying back in Australia instead of moving overseas.
Sendle CEO and founder James Moody says that while innovation policy is always tricky, it should be focused on lessening the risks and allowing entrepreneurs to flourish independently.
“The losers are local and a lot of the time the winners don’t even exist. That makes it very hard to build the future,” Moody says.
“It’s great we have a government that’s listening to the startup world, and hopefully buried in there somewhere is going to be the next Uber or Airbnb, the next big company of the future.
“We need to make sure they have the best shot to take on the world.”
Although a lot of incentives have been put forward for investors, angel investor Dean McEvoy says it’s also important that entrepreneurs are encouraged to create and grow a startup.
“It’s all well and good to incentivise the angel investors, but we need to convince more people to actually start a business,” McEvoy says.
“There are no real incentives for entrepreneurs – they’re the people that have put the most work in and they don’t get incentivised at a tax level or any other level.”
Founder of Job Capital and Inspiring Rare Birds Jo Burston adds that Australia should be taking its cues from international successes.
“We have a lot to learn from the UK and New Zealand,” Burston says. “The appetite for risk is lower here and that’s stopping us from progressing.”
“We need to look globally at how other countries are supporting the ecosystem and take gold-star practices back to Australia really quickly.
“We’re so far behind and we need to look at what is already working overseas.”
Despite the challenges and barriers, Burston says she is encouraged by the actions of the government so far and the policies put forward by StartupAUS.
“I’m really optimistic,” she says. “The first 90 days of a prime ministership is all about listening. I’m looking forward to what actually occurs in the first half of next year – that’ll be when we see lots of activities in this area.”
“I’m excited to have a prime minister and ministry that are listening.”
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