A new digital “start-up” inside the Canberra bureaucracy will explore more innovative uses of data along with bringing quality control to online service delivery — and it’s already attracted international attention. More details have been released about the Digital Transformation Office, the new Department of Communications unit announced by the Abbott government on Friday. A “small team of developers, designers, researchers and content specialists” will drive the existing myGov digital platform and other projects focusing on “end-user needs in developing digital services”. A recruitment process for senior roles in the new agency — including a chief executive — will begin shortly, looking for digital transformation experts regardless of whether they cut their teeth in the public or private sector. Whoever fills those roles will quickly get to know all of government’s service arms as it takes on a central agency-like position, assuming responsibility for leading all government ICT investment decisions relating to citizen-focused service delivery, as well as acting as “digital champion” and educator for agencies with limited digital expertise. A spokesman for Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull told The Mandarin there are synergies in the Department of Communications between the digital-by-default ethos and practice that the public have come to expect — seamless interaction with government: “This agency isn’t designed to operate in a silo. Some agencies do things already incredibly well … others have made very little progress. The point behind this agency is that it’ll be the first time that we will have that whole-of-government perspective. “You won’t see dribs and drabs of good stuff and quite a lot of bad. You will see, hopefully, a level playing field of very good performance.” Turnbull (pictured) said on Friday the unit will “operate more like a startup” than a traditional government agency. One of the primary tasks will be to develop a unitary log-in for government services, while protecting privacy and security of digital identities. The myGov log-in process — which won the Silver and Collaboration Award at the Excellence in Public Service Management awards last year — will be expanded. According to Turnbull’s office: “That identity assurance space is probably the most significant issue governments around the world are grappling with in the digital space. Are you who you say you are? And therefore once we’ve determined that you are who you say you are, we’re providing a seamless log-in process where that can be duplicated across agencies as opposed to having to do that countless times.” The government’s vision includes a consistent “look and feel” that meets the needs and expectations of the user, fewer roadblocks, and digital from start to finish. Turnbull will also direct the new agency to look at all possible advances in digital service delivery across government. According to the spokesperson: “The classic example is going to be how we utilise data. Obviously there’s been quite a bit push in the open data space already, so how have we leveraged that data, and how have we leveraged analytics to improve the services we deliver?” Trials of more open data uses will be announced later this year. So is this a complete takeover of ICT? Not according to a spokesperson at the Department of Communications: “Government agencies will retain responsibility for ICT investment decisions that do not relate to citizen-focused digital service delivery.” The Department of Human Services developed myGov for Centrelink, Medicare and other welfare transactions, but it now includes the Australian Taxation Office’s online system. The department had begun engaging other agencies on expanding the service. Human Services senior executive Ben Rimmer was a significant driver of the project before he departed earlier this month for a post as CEO of the City of Melbourne. The UK government’s Mike Bracken, executive director of Digital in the Cabinet Office and head of the Government Digital Service GDS, extended his congratulations to DTO on Monday, blogging that it was “exciting stuff”: “Needless to say, you have our heartfelt support. If you need input from us, we’ll be happy to provide it. And if any of your team find yourselves visiting the UK, you’ll be made welcome at our office in Holborn. It will be the least we can do to repay the hospitality shown to Ben Terrett and Liam Maxwell when they visited Australia last summer at the invitation of Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull. “Digital transformation is fast becoming an international effort, something we saw clearly at the D5 summit we hosted in London last December. The Australian team joins others in Mexico, Israel, the USA, Estonia, Singapore, South Korea and New Zealand — together, we’re building an amazing community of knowledge and experience. The pace of momentum is striking.” This article originally appeared at The Mandarin. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
As part of Apple’s revamp of Beats Music, the recently acquired music streaming service will be bundled directly into iOS. The service will be bundled with the operating system early next year, instantly making it available on hundreds of millions of iPhones and iPads, the Financial Times reports. Beats will continue to be a paid service and will likely be rebranded under the iTunes umbrella. UK government funds free online startup education courses An initiative funded by the UK government and backed by the tech industry has launched, offering free online courses to those who want to learn commercial digital business skills, TechCrunch reports. The Digital Business Academy is being overseen by Tech City, working in partnership with a host of educational institutions and tech mentorship organizations including Cambridge University Judge Business School, University College London, and Founder Centric, which in turn works with tech accelerators such as Seedcamp and others. 500 Startups launches 10 million mobile collective fund Global seed fund 500 startups has launched a new micro-fund, a $US10 million ($AU11.6 million) fund it’s calling the 500 Startups Mobile Collective, TechCrunch reports. The fund will be headed up by Edith Yeung, who joins after running marketing and business development for Sequoia-backed mobile browser Dolphin Browser. She also co-founded angel investment firm RightVentures, where she made more than 20 investments. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 2.09 to 17,685.73. The Australian Dollar is currently trading at US86 cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Innovation experts and incubators are tipping creative sector startups as the next big thing, and are calling for Australians and investors to back them. Nowhere is this rise of art and tech fusion clearer than in Queensland, where Brisbane is home to Australia’s first creative startup fund and the Gold Coast to incubator Silicon Lakes, which is running a creative industries themed Startup Weekend this week. A Startup Weekend is a three-day event to turn ideas pitched on the Friday night into new businesses by the end of Sunday. Cofounder Greg Burnett told StartupSmart this will be Australia’s first creative industries focused hackathon-style event. “Our feeling is the creative and tech industries do go hand in hand. Both are strong industries here but there hasn’t been much collaboration yet,” Burnett says. “We want to help creatives go from hobbyist to business owner and grower.” He adds some of Australia’s biggest startup success stories are essentially creative startups, such as design crowdsourcing platform 99designs and art marketplace Red Bubble. Australia’s only creative industry focused incubator, Brisbane-based Creative Enterprise Australia launched several years ago. CEA chief executive Anna Rooke told StartupSmart there has been a rapid rise in both interest and success of creative startups since then. “There are a combination of factors that make this the really exciting sector at the moment including a phenomenal amount of investment worldwide from universities, governments and venture funds,” Rooke says. “We’ve been working really hard to show there is a clear path to market for creatives that goes beyond hobby businesses.” The success of startups such as 99designs, music app We Are Hunted and games development Half Brick Studios have had an almost evangelistic impact on the creative and startup communities. The escalating interest and growing talent base enabled CEA to launch a $1.2 million fund late last year. Over 200 startups have applied so far. CEA announced their first investment, in visual search engine for trademarks startup See-Out, last week. “We wanted to highlight at startup that had thought about the international scalability from day one, so that creative ventures could see that was what we’re looking for, and that global goals are possible for creative startups,” Rooke says. Rooke is confident the creative industry will continue to thrive over the coming years as Australia has both the talent and startup incubators and accelerators to support it now. But for any startup ecosystem to take off, there also needs to be enough capital available to fund high-growth early stage companies. At a startup investors event in Sydney in August, startup mentor Hamish Hawthorn tipped creative startups as the best industry to back in the coming years. “Some of the most brilliant people around are in the creative arts and industries. When you combine that with tech to get the ability to scale, you’ll get a boom and they’ll be off.” Hawthorn is also the director of accelerator program ATP Innovations. They recently ran an evening workshop to equip creative startup founders with the professional skills they need to turn their great ideas into profitable businesses. At the time, Hawthorn told StartupSmart creative entrepreneurs face subtly different challenges to the wider start-up scene, especially around raising capital. “Often creative entrepreneurs are focused on the essence of their ideas, but investors want to invest in the business on top of being attracted to the essence,” he says. “You need to speak in the language of the investors and be able to articulate the value proposition so an investor can latch onto it.” The Australian creative industries sector employs more people than the mining sector and contributes $35 billion to GDP every year. Several years ago, the UK government launched a series of policies targeted at supporting startups to boost the creative sectors, which are now estimated to bring in 20 million pounds an hour.
Australian start-ups are being encouraged to enter a global competition called the Million Pound Startup, which will award £1 million ($1.55 million) to a technology company willing to relocate to London. The Million Pound Startup, facilitated by UK-based not-for-profit Digital Shoreditch, is designed to encourage young tech companies to set up operations in London in return for £1 million. The winner will not only receive £1 million but will also receive support and assistance from competition partners including the Tech City Investment Organisation, and Schools for Startups. Competition entrants will need to demonstrate they have the capability of using the £1 million equity investment to build a £100 million company based in London. Entrant turnover must be less than £1 million per year and the company must have been trading for less than 10 years. The competition is open until August 29, with the final in December. The £1 million is being sourced through a combination of angel funding, institutional capital and equity crowdfunding. The investment process will be managed by Seedrs, a UK-based crowdfunding platform regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The competition partners and judges will work together to ensure the winning company is not only of a high calibre but successfully completes due diligence. The competition also offers a small equity stake to the company or individual who promotes the winner. Promoters are required to pre-register on the Million Pound Startup website. If there is a specific promoter registered to the winner of the competition, they will receive a 1% equity stake in the company. According to Mayor of London Boris Johnson, London is a “terrific home” for tech start-ups and a world leader in the sector. “This competition is an aptly innovative approach, which I hope will unleash even more of the entrepreneurial talent for which this city is renowned,” Johnson said in a statement. Similarly, TCIO deputy chief executive Benjamin Southworth said in a statement the competition “perfectly demonstrates how London and the UK are open for business”. “Entrepreneurs based here can benefit from the world’s most ambitious package of policies, businesses incentives, tax and visa support as well as the diverse and vibrant start-up ecosystem in Tech City,” he said. This isn’t the UK’s first attempt to lure start-ups from other countries. In January last year, 300 tech start-ups from around the world were invited to the StartUp Games, held at the same time as the London 2012 Paralympics, in a bid to attract young companies to London. The UK government is also keen to boost entrepreneurship in its own ranks, particularly among young people. In March last year, UK Prime Minister David Cameron unveiled the StartUp Loans scheme for budding entrepreneurs aged 18-24, who will receive loans of around £2,500. Cameron said he hoped the initiative will lead to 30,000 additional start-ups. Cameron told the BBC he wants young people to have the confidence and support to turn “that spark of an idea into the next global brand”. The UK also saw the launch of StartUp Britain in March 2011. StartUp Britain, which is built around an online portal, delivers support and advice to start-ups.
It’s a story heard time and again from start-ups across Australia since the global financial downturn – the banks simply aren’t lending money to help businesses get up and running.
Ireland is the latest nation to appeal to foreign entrepreneurs to do business in the region, in a desperate bid to boost employment, following similar initiatives in the United States and Britain.
Companies looking to do business in the United Kingdom shouldn’t expect any short-term gains, an economist says, despite the Australian dollar hitting a 27-year high against the British pound.
The Federal Government has been urged to do more to spur start-up investment, following the unveiling of a UK government initiative that gives a huge tax break to venture capitalists.
Rupert Murdoch has pulled the plug on the attempted takeover of UK broadcaster BSkyB in the wake of the phone hacking scandal that has engulfed his media empire.
The Australian Federal Government says it is unlikely to adopt an initiative like the Red Tape Challenge, a high profile blitz on regulation that has just been rolled out in the UK.
We looked on in a mixture of wonder and envy last week as the UK Government launched StartUp Britain, a scheme aimed at propelling wannabe Richard Bransons into business.
It’s official: Australia is the second easiest place in the world to start a business, according to the World Bank.