NSW innovation minister says he will deliver three things the startup community is pleading for


The NSW government will release its own innovation statement this year to “dovetail” the federal government’s efforts which it hopes will be the “the best policy in the country when it comes to innovation”, the state’s minister for innovation and better regulation Victor Dominello says.


Speaking to StartupSmart, Dominello says the set of policies will complement the raft of reforms in the government’s $1 billion innovation statement announced at the end of last year.


“We’ll be closely examining the innovation statement made by the prime minister late last year with a fine-tooth comb,” Dominello says.


“In the not too distant future we’ll announce our own innovation policy that will dovetail with the PM’s vision.


“That’s a mark of maturity in that we’re trying to work collaboratively with the federal government rather than setting our own course. Collaboration is king in this space.”


He says state policies should work closely with the movements at a federal level.


“We don’t want to replicate what they’re doing, we want to dovetail in areas we have strengths as a state government,” Dominello says.


“We want that to be the best policy in the country when it comes to innovation.”


The three most important areas for startups

Dominello says there are three main things that the startup community in NSW is calling out for, and the set of policies will attempt to address these.


“The first is space, and there are plenty examples of that occurring,” he says.


“Then there’s money and access to VCs, which is critical.


“The third is data, which is the area that governments can do the most about. The governments are repositories of large amounts of data and governments that have an open data policy will help drive even more innovation.


“Once you open up data you can fuel those startups even more.”


Big data and transparency is an area Dominello says he is very passionate about, and one that startups should be leveraging more.


“Providing data to the startup community is critical,” he says.


“Most of what they do is based on data and the more we can provide them the more we can find solutions to serious problems we have in society.”


“The legislative ability to obtain data, subject to privacy and security settings, will assist us to tackle the big social policy issues.”


Helping the state’s fintech sector

He says one of the flagship policies of the state government last year was the establishment of a “world first” government data analytics centre facilitating data sharing between government agencies and allowing for the analysis of the effectiveness of policies.


Dominello  says the better use of public data can also assist with one of the booming startup sectors in the state: fintech.


With Stone & Chalk and the Tyro co-working space, Sydney is leading the way with fintech startups, and Dominello wants it to stay that way.


“We’re already the centre in south-easy Asia for banking and finance, so the fintech sector in particular is very, very strong,” he says.


“I want to use data and analytics to drive better regulation. I really believe that the marketplace in its natural and transparent form is the best regulator.


“People can look at the marketplace and make decisions provided they’re informed. They can go to the people doing the right things and shun the people doing the bad things – that’s the marketplace working in the best way.


“We want to use data intelligently and empower the customer through open data and apps that are innovative.”


Embracing disruption

Late last year NSW became the second Australia jurisdiction to formally legalise and regulate startup giant Uber, and Dominello says this demonstrates a willingness to embrace a culture of innovation.


“The thing we accept in NSW is we must have, and we must accept, disruption,” he says.


“We say that right upfront – we embrace disruption. But it has to be on a fair playing field and we need to make sure there are protections in place so people aren’t discriminated against.


“With Uber we had a very solid landing that did both things – it embraced the disruption that Uber is but also provided a fair playing field for the other players in the market.”


Dominello says the Sydney startup community will continue to grow rapidly.


“There’s a real buzz in Sydney in the startup world,” he says.


“It’s an exciting time to be there.”



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Denham Sadler is the editor of StartupSmart. He was previously a journalist at the publication and has worked as a freelancer for the Guardian, the Saturday Paper and the ABC. In his spare time he likes puns and jaffles.