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Carbon tax tipped to create openings for tech start-ups

Tuesday, 12 July 2011 | By Michelle Hammond
Start-ups could be presented with opportunities by companies needing to upgrade IT systems to measure post-carbon tax energy use, according to analysts.

 

Steve Hodgkinson, research director at technology analyst firm Ovum, says in light of the new details surrounding the carbon tax businesses will have to act fast to upgrade their technology to avoid wearing the cost.

 

“Businesses are going to have to take this seriously … because the worst possible outcome for any organisation will be to be paying more than their fair share under the regime,” he says.

 

Technology investment is likely to occur in three stages.

 

First, physical devices to measure and monitor energy consumption would be installed, followed by systems to receive and then analyse the data.

 

“Whereas before it was all a bit theoretical and a matter for discretion for businesses, this gives things a sharper edge and a firm justification for increased technology investment,” Hodgkinson says.

 

Stephen Tame, chief information officer at Jetstar, told The Australian Financial Review airlines have already reaped the benefits from investment in the kind of technology required for tracking emissions.

 

Tame said organisations in other sectors, which were further behind the technology curve, would have to significantly increase their systems related to energy use.

 

“There is going to have to be some significant change around their key systems and key reporting,” he said.

 

In addition to tech start-ups under-resourced green start-ups are also expected to benefit from the carbon tax through the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

 

The government says the new fund, created as part of the carbon pricing plan, will invest in businesses “seeking funds to get innovative clean energy proposals and technologies off the ground”.

 

It will also help existing manufacturers to re-focus their activities towards renewable energy.

 

A further $3.2 billion has been earmarked for start-ups pioneering new renewable energy ideas under the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, while the Clean Technology Innovation Program will provide $200 million in grants to support business investment in green technology and energy efficiency.

 

The government has patted itself on the back for its new R&D Tax Credit, claiming it will help SMEs to create the jobs, skills and technologies they need in order to thrive in a low-carbon economy.

 

Calling for comment on the scheme’s administrative arrangements Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr said the new R&D Tax Credit was vital for Australian businesses and the national economy.

 

“The government’s tax incentives will be distributed more fairly than has been the case under the current R&D tax concession,” Carr said in a statement.

 

“This will herald a new era of innovation, design and production … the R&D tax credit will encourage a surge of improved materials, products, processes and services.”