In his budget reply speech to the National Press Club on Wednesday, shadow treasurer Chris Bowen dedicated significant time to outlining a Labor Party agenda that aims to foster innovation and entrepreneurship, with an emphasis on supporting high growth companies. Calling on Australia to find its own niche and not be a carbon copy of Silicon Valley, he said that high growth companies currently generate less than 0.2% of Australia’s GDP but that it could account for 4% of our GDP, according to PwC, generating more than half a million jobs by as early as 2033. “The potential is huge, but we have a lot of catching up to do,” he said in his speech. “Our venture capital industry starts off a low base and is not growing as fast as that of comparable countries. We do badly when it comes to the important ‘angel funding’, with only one dollar invested for every Australian each year. “In New Zealand, the comparable figure is $6, $15 for the United Kingdom and $85 for the United States.” He said the tax system is one of the most powerful levers a government has to influence investor behaviour. “Other governments around the world, including conservative governments get the importance of a supportive government environment for the high-tech, startup sector, making it more frustrating that our government does not,” Bowen said. “In the land of the free, the United States, every dollar of government money investment in high-tech incubators generates an additional thirty dollars of tax revenue. Perhaps the Treasurer might have thought about this before he engaged in his ridiculously short-sighted cost-cutting regime.” He called for changes to current crowdsourced funding laws and flagged a visa specifically for entrepreneurs as Labor-backed policies that could encourage Australian innovation and startups. “Around the world, it is estimated that crowdsourced funding will generate $65 billion in funding and finance the creation of 270,000 jobs this year,” Bowen said. “There is one small problem, however. Crowdsourced funding is, in effect, illegal in Australia. ASIC regards crowdsourced funding as a financial services undertaking, requiring a licence, making its operation of crowdsourced funding highly problematic.” He said that he and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten had instructed the opposition treasury parliamentary secretary, Ed Husic, who has a passionate interest in the potential of high technology, to consult with the sector to provide a regulatory framework for crowdsourced funding “in the absence of action from the government”. Bowen also mentioned the opposition’s interest in establishing an entrepreneur’s visa, saying that “we should not only encourage Australians to start innovative companies here, but also invite entrepreneurs from around the world to come and create jobs here.” “New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Singapore among other nations that have introduced specific entrepreneur visas, and Australia needs to consider doing so as well,” he said. He said it was an idea that he and the opposition spokesman for Immigration, Richard Marles, will be pursuing in consultation with the venture capital sector. Bowen said the two ideas outlined were just the beginning of Labor’s process to foster innovation. “There is more work to do in this space, including policy development in relation to incubators, employee share schemes, building the skills we need, high-tech scholarships and other matters,” he said. “Again, Bill Shorten and I have asked my parliamentary secretary, Ed Husic, to consult the high-tech sector about policy details and work with our colleagues such as Kim Carr and Jason Clare, who both share our passion, to develop more details. And we’ll have more to say on this.” Image credit: Andrew Heslop.
Industry Minister Kim Carr has denied reports Holden is seeking more than $200 million in additional subsidies from the federal government, claiming he doesn’t know where the figure came from. While calling the $200 million figure ‘”speculative”, Carr is also defending ongoing closed-door talks with the auto giant. “If a company comes to me with an issue they get the respect that they deserve and confidentiality,” Carr says. “To execute this next-generation program there are several milestones we must achieve – the two most crucial being reducing our structural costs and improving productivity in our factory, along with the implementation of a clear, consistent and globally competitive industry policy,” Holden says. NAB plants seeds for China food export harvest National Australia Bank has signed a memorandum of understanding with state-owned China National Agricultural Development Group Corporation (CNADC), with the bank hoping to cash in on Chinese investment in Australian agriculture. “For Australia's agricultural sector, our abundance of productive land and high food quality makes us an ideal strategic partner for China's growing food, beverage and agricultural needs," says Joseph Healy, the head of NAB's business bank and Asian operations. “Most Australian agribusinesses understand the opportunities in the region, but in some instances are not sure how to take the next step. Building relationships, understanding the market and exploring opportunities on the ground are crucial for longstanding and successful partnerships in China.” Telstra set to outsource 170 back office jobs to India Telstra has announced 170 customer service positions will be made redundant, with back-office network applications and services support positions set to be outsourced to India as part of the move. "This is about growth, this is about supporting our clients as they move offshore and supporting our international clients in those markets," Telstra NAS head David Burns says. "We want to be able to support that strategy. We need to be able to scale quickly, we need to be able to meet demand, we need to be able to support our customers as they move into that south-east Asian region and we need to be competitive as we do that." However, the communications divisional president of the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union, Len Cooper, claims the job cuts undermine Telstra chief executive David Thodey’s commitment to improved customer service. “The jobs they are cutting are in areas where hi-tech people are looking after IP networks, where people do design installation and maintenance of critical networks for big customers," Cooper says. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 1.11% 15460.92. The Aussie dollar is down to US91.79 cents.
Senator Kim Carr has been returned to his old industry and innovation portfolios in Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s cabinet reshuffle, as entrepreneurs ask for firm commitments from the government to the start-up sector. In a statement following his swearing in as Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research and Education, Carr connected a country’s ability to “make things” with jobs, opportunity and investment in education and infrastructure. He says a country that makes things “thrives on the ingenuity and ambition of its people. It is a nation that dreams large and commits itself to making those dreams a reality”. Less talk, more real promises needed Jeremy Liddle, chief executive at the Enterprise Network for Young Australians (ENYA), told StartupSmart the time has come for real promises. “With the appointment of the new prime minister, he has been talking about youth, and business will be a focus of his, but whether or not he can achieve anything between now and the election remains to be seen,” Liddle says. “All of the support has been verbal and not financial from the government so far. I’d have to say this is a bit of a pattern, unfortunately. “We need a shift from verbal support to real policy promises for the election,” Liddle says, citing the Israeli government’s five-to-one matching of investment for start-ups who graduate from approved incubators as an outstanding policy initiative. “Something like that would have an extremely leveraged effect on the Australian economy and the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Liddle says. “We haven’t seen any financial support for incubators or accelerators and co-working spaces and support organisations like ENYA.” Liddle added that he was very happy to see Bernie Ripoll returned to the parliamentary secretary for small business role, given his understanding of enabling entrepreneurialism. Education and innovation a powerful pairing Liddle has been assisting the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority review for the high school curriculum on business and economics and says the pairing of innovation and education could be a powerful policy alignment. “We could definitely be doing a lot more at the high school curriculum level and the tertiary level to encourage young people to start their own companies,” Liddle says. Entrepreneurship as the key to real job creation He says innovation is now a critical area for the government to get right and start investing in if it’s committed to job creation. “The only way you can create sustainable job growth is by fostering new companies, by supporting start-ups. Start-ups and young companies and commercialising innovation is critical for the economy. It’s not just mildly important; it should be the primary focus. “Throughout the OECD countries, the only net growth in jobs has come from companies younger than five years old. Throughout the GFC, younger companies five years old contributed double-digit job growth.” Liddle says Carr can support both the high-profile mining and car manufacturing industries in the industry portfolio and emerging companies by focusing on funding technological innovation that transcends industries. “The focus should be on technology that can be applied to both older and new industries. We need to ask ourselves, what is the new wave of technology that will transcend industry?” he says. In his statement, Carr welcomed the pairing of the education and innovation portfolios. “Our students are our future researchers, entrepreneurs and workers in industry. They are central to the innovation agenda,” he says. “Innovating better than we do now is the highest priority and most practical step we can take as a country to improve living standards, create jobs, and secure our future prosperity. For Labor, this is not a choice, it is an imperative.”
Labor is in turmoil today after senior frontbencher Simon Crean called for a leadership spill, and announced he’d run for deputy. Refresh for rolling updates … 4.46pm: Julia Gillard remains PM. No one challenged her. ALP spokesman Chris Hayes MP has emerged from the caucus meeting to formally announce that there was only one nomination each for the role of prime minister and deputy prime minister; Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan respectively, “Both were duly elected unopposed and unanimously by the parliamentary caucus,” Hayes said. ”It puts beyond doubt the issue of leadership in the parliamentary Labor party.” 4.21pm: Kevin Rudd has just faced the media to announce he will not stand in the leadership ballot. Flanked by supportive colleagues in the corridor of Parliament House, Rudd said he had previously pledged he would only stand if the overwhelming majority of the party requested his return and the top position was vacant, circumstances, he said, which had not been met. Rudd said he would adhere absolutely to his commitment; “I take my word seriously”. He called on the party to unite to ensure Tony Abbott did not walk into the Lodge. 4.16pm: Labor MPs are expected to start filing into the leadership spill any minute. Meanwhile, spare a thought for the people affected by the forced adoption of children in the 20th century. They received a heartfelt and long-awaited apology from Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott this morning, but that’s been eclipsed by the #spill. 3.40pm: We still don’t even know if Rudd will nominate for leader at the spill at 4.30pm. This update from ABC reporter Latika Bourke: SkyNews reckons the following Labor MPs have been spied in Rudd’s office: Ed Husic, Tony Zappia, Richard Marles, Stephen Jones. Confusion reigns in Parliament House. Normally MPs would be getting ready to head to the airport and leave Canberra as the sitting week wraps up. Not this time. They’re frantically phoning around and changing their flights. 3.25pm: Sportsbet has Rudd the frontrunner at $1.30 with Gillard at $3.00. But she’s fighting back — she was at $6.00 half an hour ago. And she just now dropped to $2.80. And she’s got this vote sewn up — outspoken Labor MP Steve Gibbons tweets this (Gillard’s winning the race on Twitter FYI): 3.11: Treasurer Wayne Swan weighs in. He is highly likely to go down with Gillard should she lose today's ballot. 2.56pm: Bernard Keane writes: Question Time has come and gone, with an attempt by the opposition to suspend standing orders to move a motion of no confidence failing. The motion was supported by independents Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor and Andrew Wilkie but failed to achieve the necessary absolute majority of the House. A motion of no confidence — Tony Abbott’s first — may not have been particularly interesting given Gillard remains Prime Minister and thus her agreements with Oakeshott and Windsor remain in place. Wilkie has indicated he will only vote no confidence in the case of a major scandal. The Prime Minister’s speech in response to Tony Abbott’s motion to suspend remarks contain little of her usual back-against-the-wall fire, but relied on outlining her achievements and warning that she had more left to do. Meantime the counting game is on in earnest, with attention focusing on how many numbers Simon Crean can bring over to the Rudd camp, estimated to be no more than 35-40 MPs. The problem for Gillard is that a victory will do nothing to address Simon Crean’s defection or the persistence of a core of Rudd supporters of around a third of the caucus. 2.42pm: Julia Gillard has shut down question time after Abbott’s move to have a no-confidence motion in her failed. 2.25pm: Tony Abbott, in question time, tells Gillard: “I say to the current Prime Minister, for your party’s good you should go. For your country’s good, you should go.” Gillard is now firing back at Abbott. Note that Kevin Rudd is in the chamber, as is Simon Crean; but Crean has gone to the backbench after precipitating today’s dramatic events. Remember the last time this happened, when Rudd and Gillard faced off in February 2012? Key Rudd supporters were Anthony Albanese, Martin Ferguson, Chris Bowen and Kim Carr. Penny Wong, Tanya Plibersek, Wayne Swan, Stephen Conroy and Simon Crean all backed Gillard. Crean has now shifted — and who else? 2.17pm: We’re in question time. Tony Abbott has moved a no-confidence motion in the PM, and is listing what he says is a litany of Labor failures. Meanwhile, Labor MPs have started to tweet how they’ll vote. Here’s ACT Senator Kate Lundy: 2.04pm: News Limited journalist Phillip Hudson tweets: 2.01pm: Prime Minister Julia Gillard tells question time there will be a ballot for the leadership at 4.30pm today. 1.45pm: Labor frontbencher and former leader Simon Crean has pulled the trigger on the Labor leadership crisis, calling for Prime Minister Julia Gillard to spill all leadership positions and backing Kevin Rudd with himself as deputy leader. Crean’s intervention comes as the climax for an extended leadership dilemma for Labor, with Rudd’s camp unable to muster the numbers to defeat Gillard despite a dreadful start to the year in the polls. However, there are important process issues to be addressed. Crean has indicated he doesn’t expect the Prime Minister to accept his plea to spill leadership positions, in which case it will be up to her opponents to muster the 35 votes to successfully call a spill in caucus via the caucus chairman before MPs leave tonight (prospects of Parliament sitting tomorrow have evaporated with the withdrawal of the media reform bills). Crean, who has been a strong supporter of the Prime Minister, said he wanted a circuitbreaker for the continuing destabilisation and that Labor’s problems would not be solved by simply swapping leaders. Labor needed to demonstrate it believed in something, he said. The move by the former leader (and persistent critic of Rudd) breaks the impasse Labor found itself in with the Rudd camp unable to muster anywhere near sufficient numbers to defeat Gillard and Rudd himself repeatedly, in private and in public, saying he would not challenge under any circumstances. With a leadership spill initiated by Crean, Rudd now has the chance to stand; indeed, there is no way Rudd can avoid standing. Crean also portrayed himself as a deputy capable of ensuring Rudd, whose wretched management style was one of the key reasons for his downfall in June 2010, would be a more inclusive leader if he takes over again as prime minister. That has been a persistent problem for Rudd backers, with the memory of Rudd’s behaviour as leader still strong in many backbench minds, as well as being a reason why a number of cabinet ministers indicated either publicly or privately they could not work with him again. Crean also ruled out seeking the treasurership, which has long been rumoured to be promised to the New South Wales Right’s Chris Bowen, who backed Rudd last February and is his highest-profile ministerial backer. There are disputed media reports that the NSW Right will back Rudd, which combined with Crean’s support would make Rudd very difficult to stop in a leadership contest. Crean has said he wishes to retain his ministerial position pending the outcome of the current contest. This story originally appeared on Crikey.com.au.
The Australian Innovation Festival has kicked off its month-long showcase of new thinking by arguing that innovation is important for short-term economic gain, rather than longer-term research and development.
Start-ups may soon be looking at the manufacturing industry with renewed enthusiasm, with a new taskforce considering the development of a smaller, more tech-savvy manufacturing sector.
The Australian Food and Grocery Council is urging the Federal Government to appoint a Supermarket Ombudsman to control the amount of shelf space taken up by home brand products.
Australia’s ties with China look set to strengthen even more, with Australia-China research collaborations to receive an addition $18 million under a new government-funded initiative.
A sports exchange platform and grey water recycling equipment are among the nine innovations that will share in $3.7 million under the latest funding round from Commercialisation Australia.
Publicly funded research programs need to encourage collaboration between universities and end-users in order to boost business innovation, according to a new government report.
This article first appeared on October 28th, 2011. A mumpreneur has invented a beach chair that doubles as a backpack, taking the packhorse drudgery out of a day at the beach with her children.
Businesses are set to be offered huge opportunities by cloud computing, but firms will also face challenges as they adopt the technology, according to a new report.
An Adelaide-based business is looking to take its innovation to the world after winning the Australian Clean Technologies Ideas Competition last night.
The Federal Government has launched a $53 million Buy Australian campaign in a bid to prop up local manufacturers, but it’s unclear how many manufacturers will benefit from the program.
Start-ups are being invited enter the Innovation Challenge for the chance to share in $70,000, with categories covering everything from high-tech design to backyard innovation.
Australian start-ups will enjoy “green growth” opportunities in the future, but entrepreneurs will have to contend with skills challenges as the economy undergoes major change, a new government report has warned.
BuildingIQ, an Australian energy efficiency start-up that is looking to make a big impact in the US, has been handed $1.2 million in the latest Commercialisation Australia awards, with a total of $5 million granted to 13 promising new ventures.
Business owners can avoid the mistake of registering a business name that has already been trademarked after the launch of a new Federal Government trade mark tool.
Start-ups could be presented with opportunities by companies needing to upgrade IT systems to measure post-carbon tax energy use, according to analysts.
Research commercialisation company UniQuest will showcase 50 innovations on behalf of Australian universities at an international biotechnology event being held in the United States later this month.