Peter Bradd


Shorten takes on Turnbull to stake out startup “path to the future”

9:37AM | Thursday, 24 September

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has announced a “second wave” of policies that Labor will be taking to the election with the aim of making Australia a “startup nation”.   The $17.8 million policy package includes efforts to encourage young Australians to enter the startup world, visas to entice international entrepreneurs to set up shop here, and ways to bring innovation to government decision-making.   Shorten told StartupSmart it’s all about making sure Australia is competitive in the global race to “capture the jobs of the future”.   “Over the next two decades if we get our startup policies right, there’s another half a million jobs,” Shorten says.   “We’re in a race with the rest of the world for jobs and growth, for quality growth and fairness.   “Labor’s plan for securing jobs involves capital, skills, platform infrastructure, collaboration, working with government and culture.   “Startups manifest a lot of these things; they’re indices of success if the policies are in the right direction.”   Startups have recently been placed at the forefront of Australian politics with new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull placing a strong emphasis on innovation and new technologies in both his first acceptance speech and subsequent cabinet reshuffle.   The competition to win over the Australian startup community has begun, with Shorten saying the public should looks towards the government’s history with things like the NBN, rather than the startup rhetoric.   “The Liberal party can talk about things, but you’ve got to look at their record,” Shorten says.   “We’ve been in it for two years.”   Shorten announced the raft of new policies at a press conference at Tank Stream Labs in Sydney today.   The first wave of Labor policies regarding innovation came in Shorten’s 2015 budget reply, where he focused mostly on STEM education. The policies included emphasis on coding in schools, scholarships for STEM teachers, as well as a $500 million Smart Investment Fund.   Shorten says the new host of reforms that Labor will be bringing to next year’s election are all about giving power to entrepreneurial individuals.   “I’m a big believer in empowerment,” he says.   “Empowered individuals in control of their lives create quality growth and fair communities are the best seed-bed for innovation.”   HECS-style loans for young entrepreneurs   The flagship reform of the “second wave” is the introduction of income-contingent loans for final year university students or recent graduates looking to establish a startup in an accelerator or incubator.   The ‘Startup Year’ involves a HECS-style loan of up to $10,000 for 2000 students or graduates each year, with the aim of encouraging more educated young Australians to move directly into the tech sector.   To be eligible for the Startup Year, young entrepreneurs would have to be participating in an “accredited program” such as a university or external accelerator.   Recipients would start paying back the loan in instalments once they are earning $54,000 annually.   “If you look at the ages of successful startup businesses, it’s when people are testing ideas, they’ve been learning and have a lot of imagination that the system hasn’t beaten out of them yet,” Shorten says.   Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin, the CEO of accelerator BlueChilli, says he thinks this is a “good initiative”, but only if the right controls are put in place.   “I’m not normally one to advocate for tight controls in this area, but this needs to have strict controls around it,” Eckersley-Maslin says. “It could potentially be exploited.”   “The idea of having the funds deployed through registered training or accredited providers is the right way to go about it, or else you’ll just be handing out $10,000 so people can extend their Schoolies.”   The risks associated with this scheme are low, Shorten says, with a lot of requirements to be put in place.   “That’s where the 43 universities come into being,” he says. “It’s very low risk, with a high reward.   “It’s a good investment.”   AngelCube founder Adrian Stone says fundamentally he supports this new proposed policy.   “It’s definitely innovative thinking, and it’s great that they’re looking at unemployed graduates,” Stone says.   “I support it, with a few tweaks.”   The $10,000 loan might also be not enough to convince graduates to forgo a stable job in favour of operating a startup, Eckersley-Maslin says.   “Entrepreneurs will do it anyway, and $10,000 is unfortunately not enough to make an impact on someone moving across, but it will support people who are doing it,” he says.   “It’ll create more bodies and groups that’ll be able to support entrepreneurs and give them somewhere to deploy money. Just like HECS helps higher education bodies, this will help startup-based accelerators and incubators.”   Bringing international talent to Australia   The reform package also includes two new visa categories aimed at global entrepreneurs and graduating international students.   The Startup Entrepreneurial Visa is aimed at 2000 entrepreneurs from around the world looking to set up shop in Australia. Labor says it’ll be targeted at individuals with access to around $200,000 which can then be invested in a startup venture in Australia.   The Global Startup Entrepreneurial Visa will go to 2000 international exchange graduates, allowing them to stay in Australia for one year to establish a business.   “We’re going to open the doors to 2000 of the brightest people in the world to have the chance to have a visa in Australia and back in their ideas,” Shorten says.   “Quite often what happens is when they finish their degree they head back to their home country. We want to encourage some of them to stay in Australia and back in their idea.”   Innovation competitions   Also included in the package is the creation of an online portal for government agencies to upload challenges for the public to solve.   Along the same lines as in the US, Shortens says the AusGoV Challenge Platform is a 21st century version of something that has taken place since the 18th century.   Labor is committing spending $5 million to establish a trial of the platform, which will run competitions between ten to 12 agencies seeking to identify “new approaches to utilising data, technology and analytics to solve their policy and management challenges”.   The opposition has also vowed to support pre-commercial collaboration with startups and SMEs by giving them a “food in the door” with procurement tenders.   This funding will be at two levels, with the first phase providing a $100,000 grant for research and development and the second giving up to $1 million for proof-of-concept. Overall this reform will cost $5 million.   The last part of the package is the establishment of the Innovation Investment Partnership, which aims to bring together VC, superannuation funds and startup stakeholders in one place.   “Innovation doesn’t wait for elections”     With Malcolm Turnbull leading the government’s new focus on startups and innovation, Labor are striving to differentiate themselves and prove their credentials in this area as it shapes up to be a major battleground at the 2016 federal election.   Labor has identified one area where they believe they can land some blows, the NBN.   “Malcolm Turnbull has been talking about a digital future but for two years he has been responsible for rolling out the backbone of that digital future – the National Broadband Network,” the Labor policy paper says.   “The NBN has been rolling out more slowly than Malcolm Turnbull promised and it will now cost much more than Malcolm Turnbull promised.”   Shorten adds that there’ll be more policy announcements in this area to come.   “We’ll have more to say about research and more to say about taxation, but these are great ideas,” he says.   “By all means let’s have a debate about the best path to the future.”   New minister for industry, innovation and science Christopher Pyne issued a press release today criticizing Labor’s new policy announcement.   “The Turnbull government wants to encourage ideas for greater innovation and entrepreneurship, but they need to be good ideas,” Pyne says.   “Innovation has to be more than a political buzzword; it’s the only option for our economy if we are to maintain our current standard of living.   “While Labor appears to have a sudden newfound desire to promote innovation in Australia, a better start would be for them to support the China Free Trade Agreement.”   Startup-advocate and Labor MP Ed Husic says he’s willing to work with the other side on these policies if they are, saying “innovation doesn’t wait for elections”.   For the Australian startup community, the positive thing seems to be that both the government and the opposition are throwing their full support behind innovation and new technologies, even if hopes for bipartisanship may not eventuate.   “Both major parties are increasingly making innovation a key priority area in order to ensure Australia remains competitive and prosperous,” StartupAUS CEO Peter Bradd says.   “Startups will benefit from this increased attention, but the economy as a whole will be the real winner.”   Eckersley-Maslin agrees.   “It’s awesome we have bipartisan support on startups and innovation,” he says.   “The future is bright for entrepreneurs in this country, and it needs to be.”   Want to grow your business with Instagram? 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Mal content: Startup community welcomes Turnbull’s ‘cabinet for the future”

9:18AM | Monday, 21 September

Malcolm Turnbull’s appointment as prime minister and the announcement of a “cabinet for the future” gives Australia a “once in a generation” opportunity to become a more innovative nation, SquarePeg Capital co-founder Paul Bassat says.   Turnbull announced an extensive cabinet reshuffle yesterday afternoon, which included a Minister for Innovation for the first time, and new ministers for communication and small business.   The new PM again emphasised the importance of science, innovation and new technologies in his government and policies.   “Today I’m announcing a 21st century government and a ministry for the future,” Turnbull said.   “We have to work more agilely, more innovatively and we have to be more nimble in the way we seize the enormous opportunities that are presented to us.   “We are not looking to proof ourselves against the future; we are seeking to embrace it.”   Former education minister Christopher Pyne has been appointed as the new minister for industry, innovation and science, a position that didn’t exist in the Abbott government.   Strong startup advocate Wyatt Roy will be the assistant minister for innovation, making him the youngest ever federal frontbencher.   Bruce Billson will be replaced as small business minister by Kelly O’Dwyer, while Mitch Fifield will be taking on Turnbull’s old role as communications minister.   Reshuffle reactions from the startup community   Prominent members of the Australian startup community have reacted positively to the reshuffle, with many viewing it as an important first step in following through with the rhetoric used in Turnbull’s acceptance speech last week.   StartupAUS CEO Peter Bradd says he welcomes the cabinet reshuffle.   “There is a passionate and experienced team in place to deliver on Turnbull’s opening promises around innovation and our future economy,” Bradd says.   “It’s reassuring to see technology entrepreneurship and innovation move into its rightful place as one of the most important agendas for this government.”   SquarePeg’s Paul Bassat says that it is “very exciting” news.   “We have a prime minister that’s got a focus on the area, but is equally very knowledgeable about the area,” he says.   “That’s really exciting in terms of what it means for innovation. The announcement of the ministry is really consistent with that.”   He says this leads to a “once in a generation” opportunity for Australia.   “That level of passion for technology and level of knowledge is a rare combination in a leader of a country,” Bassat says. “Good policy isn’t going to guarantee that we become a better and stronger tech ecosystem, but it’s an important enabler for that.”   Changing the weather   Director of the Centre for Business Growth Dr Jana Matthews says having political figureheads acknowledge the importance of startups is very important.   “Leaders make the weather,” Matthews says. “If they are positive and optimistic about the future, employees and citizens become more confident and willing to take risks. If they are fearful and negative about the future, people react accordingly.”   “This leadership team is being led by a prime minister who has a technology background, understands that technology can enable current companies to be more efficient, and new ones to be formed and grown.”   Tech entrepreneur and Shark Tank judge Steve Baxter says it’s important to wait and see what policies are implemented.   “The real key now is to make sure we see the development and implementation of a consistent national innovation policy that provides strong support for the innovation and startup community,” he says.   “A consistent policy combined with a supportive regulatory and taxation regime will take advantage of the extraordinary opportunity currently before Australia to boost our entrepreneurial and startup activity.”   Innovation brought into the ministry   As he announced the host of changes, Turnbull put much focus on Pyne’s new role and its direct relation to startups and innovation.   “Christopher is going to be at the centre, as is the whole government, of one of our most important agendas,” Turnbull said. “If we want to remain a prosperous first world economy, with a generous social welfare safety net, we must be more competitive, we must be more productive and above all we must be more innovative.”   “Christopher’s department will drive the government’s focus on investing in science, promoting STEM education, supporting startups and bringing together innovation initiatives right across government.”   In a statement, Pyne says it is a “great honour” to be taking on this new role.   “With a sweeping tide of new disruptive technologies that will entirely transform the way we live and the way we work, Australian industry must continue to lead the world in research and innovation, ensuring our nation can seize the opportunities ahead,” Pyne says.   “We have the technical capacity and capability to remain a nation with industries that offer the jobs of the 21st century.”   Leaders in the startup community have welcomed Pyne’s new position, pointing to his support for STEM education during his time as education minister.   “Pyne has already made some important progress in the STEM area in his role as minister for education by formally introducing coding into the Australian curriculum,” Baxter says.   “This is an important milestone and shows Australian ministers are starting to embrace the pipeline approach necessary for Australia to not just survive but thrive in the innovation space.”   Wyatt Roy steps up   Tech enthusiast Wyatt Roy has been appointed as the assistant minister for innovation, a move that has been lauded by the Australian startup community.   Roy has already acted as an “important bridge” between the startup community and government this year, Baxter says.   “He’s also one of the few federal politicians who has spent real time amongst the startup community,” he says. “It’s clear he understands the startup ecosystem and what needs to be done to support it.”   Matthews agrees, saying it’s important that politicians understand and embrace startups.   “I’m encouraged to see two ministers appointed who understand the importance of innovation,” she says.   “The choice of Wyatt Roy means someone who understands the shifts taking place in our global economy will have an opportunity to shape public policy for Australia.”   Following in Turnbull’s footsteps   Senator Mitch Fifield will be taking on Turnbull’s former role as communications minister.   Australia Computer Society acting CEO Kim Finch says she is “looking forward” to working with him to help build Australia’s “digital capability”.   “Senator Fifield will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role, which will help navigate digital policy through a sometimes challenging political process,” she says.   Research and business collaboration   While announcing the changes, Turnbull also signalled an increased focus on assisting the collaboration between research and business, something which the startup community has been saying is a major issue for some time now.   “We do a lot of things great. We do a lot of great research and development. We do a lot of great science,” Turnbull said.   “One of the things we do not do well at all is the collaboration between primary research, typically in universities, and business. We are actually the second worst in the OECD.   “That is a very important priority to make a change to that.”   A lot of this is down to changing the culture surrounding this, Turnbull said.   “It’s really important for leaders, PMs, MPs and people in the media to talk about the importance of change, to talk about the importance of science, to talk about the importance of technology.”   Echoing some of his comments made during the acceptance speech, Turnbull again played up the important of startups and disruption in Australia’s economic future.   “We are living in the 21st century. We are living in a world that has been transformed in a very short period of time by science,” Turnbull said.   “Many, if not most of the largest and most transformative businesses in the world today – if they were humans they would still be in school, many of them still at primary school.   “We have to be a government, and we will be a government, for the future.”   Want to grow your business with Instagram? StartupSmart School can help

First CEO of StartupAUS wants to put startups and entrepreneurs on the national agenda

6:45AM | Friday, 19 June

Promoting the value of entrepreneurship to the Australian economy will be the focus of new StartupAUS chief executive officer Peter Bradd.   On Friday, StartupAUS announced Bradd, a foundation member of its board, would become the organisation's first ever CEO. Prior to joining StartupAUS, Bradd was a founding director of Sydney co-working space Fishburners and the founder of personalise postcard startup ScribblePics.   Bradd says he wants to work to change the perception of entrepreneurship in Australia.   “People say things like those entrepreneurs are good at selling the dream and putting their hands out, but what do they really contribute to economic growth?” he says.   “People in government ask things like why support technology entrepreneurs when nine out of 10 fail and those that don’t go overseas. I really want to change that conversation. It’s the wrong conversation to be having. PwC estimated tech could create 500,000 jobs by 2034.”   Bradd argues that narrative makes it sound like startup founders are segmented from the broader Australia community.   “Entrepreneurs are a group of people with similar needs. Innovators across every industry, be it financial services, mining, agriculture, aged care, health services, transport,” he says.   “You’ve got people creating apps and websites to aggregate or provide services through tech enablers. People creating high technology, like Wi-Fi, which was created in Australia. Then you’ve got a whole heap of different things.   “They need venture capital. A higher percentage of their staff need to have technology skills. They’re entrepreneurial, they need entrepreneurship skills and education. There’s a whole heap of things they all need, but they do work in industry.”   Bradd says Australia’s startup ecosystem is growing organically but could do with a push.   “Australia is quite far behind and the way that ecosystem’s grow is they need to grow the ball and push it down the hill and it will then pick up speed and size,” he says.   “That’s the PayPal effect, and before that the GE effect. The IPOs of Twitter, Facebook and Google created 4000 millionaires. And those 4000 went and created new businesses, they had money, they had knowledge. They knew how to work in a high growth startup and they knew each other. They knew how technology worked and they spawned some amazing companies.   “Australia’s ecosystem is growing organically, we just need a bit of support.”   StartupAUS also announced that Steve Baxter would retire his position on the board to become the organisation’s chief advocate. Andrew Larsen, investor, and founder of co-working space SyncLabs, joins the board.   Do you know more on this story or have a tip of your own? Raising capital or launching a startup? Let us know. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Partnership between StartupAUS and Salesforce aims to “champion” local startup ecosystem

3:50AM | Wednesday, 11 March

Salesforce has announced a partnership with StartupAUS to help the not-for-profit champion the industry, according to Salesforce head of startup relations Ludovic Ulrich.   The announcement coincides with the launch of the company’s Salesforce for Startups program in Australia.   Ulrich says Australia has all the elements of a successful startup ecosystem in place and he hopes the partnership adds more weight to the lobbying efforts of StartupAUS.   “We want to help line up all the great startup leaders in Australia to champion the industry,” he says.   “Together we want to foster the ecosystem, by bringing our brand and our reputation on board. We want to be part of the dialogue, along with StartupAUS, when it comes to regulation. Ensuring it’s very startup and founder friendly.   “(Australia’s startup ecosystem) is super active right now. The planets are aligned and the ingredients are here. I’m impressed with its energy level and maturity. I would use the adjective ‘vibrant’.”   StartupAUS board member and entrepreneur-in-residence, Fusion Labs’ Peter Bradd, says StartupAUS is excited Salesforce is joining as a partner.   “Salesforce and StartupAUS believe a home-grown tech sector is vital to Australia’s economic future,” he says.   “But getting there will require a national imperative to create the right environment, with a supportive culture that empowers new entrepreneurs and provides future generations with the tech skills needed to succeed.”   The Salesforce for Startups program helps tech entrepreneurs access Salesforce technology and resources to help build and scale their startups. It’s free to join and members get access to content and platform resources to help build an app. Registered startups have additional access to product special Salesforce product offers. Of course the benefit for Salesforce is it’s building a relationship with startups that might become customers as they start to mature. Startups will also be encouraged join the Pledge 1% program.   In partnership with Atlassian and the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado, the program encourages companies to pledge one per cent of their time, equity and product to charitable causes.   Salesforce senior vice president and general manager, Leyla Seka, adds that the company was keen to push both models in Australia because of the startup activity they were witnessing here.   “Many companies are heading to the US from Australia and killing it. We’re using these brands and we’re loving these brands,” Seka says.   “StartupAUS is coming to it and approaching a whole bunch of things that are going on Australia, like a heap of government restrictions and different things they’re addressing as a non-profit. We love startups and really wanted to find a way to help the Australian startup community.” Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

It’s getting warmer, which means it’s time for Startup Spring

10:09AM | Wednesday, 8 October

Australia’s national startup festival Startup Spring returns this week promising to build upon the gains it made last year, when it helped push the industry further out onto the national stage.   The event, organised by StartupAUS, launches on Friday, with the full schedule of events getting underway on October 13 and running through to November 3.   StartupAUS board member Peter Bradd says last year’s event has helped build awareness of Australia’s startup industry, which in turn has led to an increased level of influence with the federal government. Most recently, Bradd, representing StartupAUS, has met with Minister for Small Business Bruce Billson, and Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane, with whom he discussed things like visa reform, digital education, employee share options and crowdfunding regulation.   “We hope it raises awareness that we do have a strong startup ecosystem here in Australia,” Bradd says.   “We want to tell the stories of what’s happening in the startup ecosystem here and take people on a journey that many are not familiar with. Show them what life is like as an entrepreneur.   “I would encourage people to get down to the events. One thing I often hear from people outside the startup ecosystem is how welcoming it is. Everyone has an open door policy it’s very easy to connect and to go from knowing nothing, to knowing quite a lot.   “It’s a great opportunity for anyone that has a business idea, or if they’re a university student wanting to know what it’s like to join a startup or go and found a startup.”   This year there are 165 events taking place as part of Startup Spring all over the country.   StartupAUS board member and Director of Engineering for Google Alan Noble says the festival is the perfect opportunity to place Australia’s startup sector centre stage and celebrate the startup community.   “From coding sessions and bootcamps, to awards and networking drinks, there is an event for everybody who has an interest in tech startups,” he says.   “We really hope that the Startup Spring festival will inspire the next generation of Australian entrepreneurs. Today’s startups can be tomorrow’s Tesla Motors, iRobot or Google. I believe that, with the right attitude to skills, innovation and entrepreneurship, we can create a very bright future for Australia.”   For a full list of Startup Spring events visit Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Three steps to help secure Australia’s future as a startup hub

9:35PM | Wednesday, 3 September

In light of the upcoming Entrepreneurs' Infrastructure Program, which is slated to be launched on November 1, StartupAUS has penned an open letter to government, co-signed by AIIA and AVCAL, which calls on the new program to take three major factors into consideration:   The grants cap should be at least $1million; All sectors should be equally open to consideration for grants; and All grants should be considered solely on merit, with letters of support from investors and advisors an essential requirement.   Here is the open letter in full:   An open letter regarding Australia’s Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme (EIP) Commercialisation Grants.   With the launch of the new EIP Commercialisation Grants expected in the coming months, the board of StartupAUS and our industry partners call upon the Government to take advantage of a once in a generation opportunity.   We urge Government to support a programme that provides the funding runway that young companies require to achieve success. Getting this right can deliver a projected 540,000 new jobs and add $109 billion to the economy by 2033.   Digital disruption is changing the face of global markets and new business models are challenging traditional industries. Now, more than ever, Australia needs to invest in the commercialisation of innovative ideas.   On a per capita basis, Australia is amongst the lowest in the developed world when it comes to both angel investment and venture capital. Investment in young companies creates value-adding jobs and aids wealth creation, and promises to generate a considerable return on investment for the Australian economy.   The new EIP Commercialisation Grants have the potential to create a platform upon which Australia can build a vibrant innovation-led economy. We believe the new EIP programme will help to build the industry networks that young businesses need to succeed and provide the appropriate levels of funding to deliver enough time for these high growth companies to make effective use of these networks.   Hence, we call upon the architects of the upcoming EIP Commercialisation Grants programme to take three vital steps to provide appropriate infrastructure for Australian entrepreneurs:   1. Ensure grants are available to all sectors   The EIP should fund the most promising companies without any bias for particular sectors. Startups invent new sectors that didn’t exist ten years ago, from social media to the internet of things. If we are going to see more successes such as Atlassian, Seek and OzForex, we should not confine support for innovation to specific industries.   2. Ensure grants are awarded on merit   We believe it is critical that grants are allocated on merit, based on the quality of the IP and support from the private sector. In particular, letters of support from reputable advisors and investors should be an essential requirement.   3. Extend the upper limit of funding from $250,000 to a minimum of $1,000,000   The reduction in grant funding available through the Commercialisation Grants is a backward step that could lead to the further reduction in the availability of capital in Australia. Young businesses need capital to provide the appropriate runway, and give them time to deliver success. Capital needs to support the best ideas – and sometimes the best innovation needs significant level of backing. In fact, capital heavy industries can result in the strongest return on investment.   Therefore we recommend that an upper limit of at least $1 million be allocated.   This is not merely a call for funding from Government, our concerns here are not just in cash being made available for startups. As both the StartupAUS EIP submission and the Crossroads report make clear, as a nation we need to take immediate and far-reaching steps to address market failures that are impeding growth and productivity gains.   The EIP Commercialisation Grants represent a real opportunity to fund companies that are key to our current and future economy, and make Australia a great place to start and grow businesses. Over the past few years we have seen the emergence of vibrant tech startups that are developing leading-edge technologies. Several of these high growth companies are making an impact on the global scene. As a nation we need to continue to support – and accelerate this trend.   We look forward to working with the government and industry to grow more companies, create more jobs, and create an environment that supports more high growth companies.   The letter is signed by StartupAUS Board: Alan Noble, Peter Bradd, Bill Bartee, Steve Baxter, Dr Jane Matthews, Glenn Smith, Suzanne Campbell and Yasser El-Ansary.

Here’s EXACTLY what the government can do to support the startup ecosystem

4:49PM | Monday, 14 April

The Australian tech startup scene is ready to take off, but Australia might become globally irrelevant if our political leaders fail to grasp urgency of the opportunity and scale of required change, according to a report released today by peak not-for-profit group StartupAus.   The 70-page Crossroads: An action plan to develop a vibrant tech startup ecosystem in Australia report details the present-day startup environment and puts forward 23 recommendations to put Australia on track to take part in the global startup boom.   “We can’t put our head in the sand and ignore this domestic and global transformation. We either get ahead of it, or become irrelevant in the global context. As a nation we need to affect systemic change now. Entrepreneurialism is at the heart of this retooling,” entrepreneur Adrian Turner says in the report. You can read the full report here.   According to the report, there are 1000 startups, 1500 founders, 15 incubators and accelerators, as well as seven student incubator programs.   It also includes conservative estimates of the limited Australian investment landscape, with $79 million invested by VC funds in startups in 2013, six funds and $22 million in angel investment deals.   StartupAus board member Peter Bradd told StartupSmart he believes all levels of government know they had to do more to support the startup ecosystem and are keen to, but lack a comprehensive road map showing what needs to be done.   “This is why we’ve shown examples from other countries of how the kind of change we all want can be implemented. We’re not asking for invention and risk, we’re asking to catch up,” Bradd says.   Labelling the government’s support of startups as “extremely modest”, the report also details the effective programs rolled out by the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the European Union.   “We’re not doing much by global standards, so we’re not going to get the opportunities opening up for other countries if we don’t accelerate what we’re doing,” Bradd says.   “We’re very far behind.”   The report, which explicitly states replicating Silicon Valley is not a viable goal worth pursuing, outlines an ‘action plan’ Australia to strengthen its startup ecosystem.   It outlines seven steps that could have an impact in one to two years, 13 that would have an impact in two to five years and three that would have an impact in five to 15 years.   Short-term steps include changing the regulation around employee share programs, creating an entrepreneur visa and relaxing 457 visa restrictions for new businesses, as well as developing a “landing pad” or program for Australian startups heading to Silicon Valley.   Medium-term steps include creating young entrepreneur scholarships, implementing a national learn-to-code promotion program, establishing a seed co-investment fund and creating loan schemes, as well as enabling a better legislative environment for crowdsourced equity.   The long-term steps recommended include a national program of entrepreneurial education, a digital technologies curriculum and a national program to raise awareness about tech startups.   StartupAus is a coalition of 50 tech startup community leaders. It is headed by a board that includes Bradd, Google Australia’s Alan Noble, Southern Cross Venture Partner’s Bill Bartee, RiverCity Labs Steve Baxter and ANZ Innovyz Start Accelerator’s Dr Jana Matthews.

Google launches e-book celebrating the stories of Australia’s rising startup sector

4:46PM | Tuesday, 1 April

Google Australia has launched a campaign, armed with an e-book and video, to encourage Australians to take up coding.   Written by Fran Molloy, Start with Code shares the stories of the rising startup ecosystem, including startup founders including Noller, Peter Bradd, Marita Cheng and Mitchell Harper.   In the foreword, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull writes about the profound changes the internet and technology have wrought on the world.   “We need to improve the way we teach our kids; we need to inspire a generation of digital natives who are already avid consumers of technology to embark on careers as entrepreneurs and coders, in e-commerce and as engineers.”   The need to overhaul the education system to equip Australia with coding skills is something Atlassian cofounder Mike Cannon-Brookes also argues for in the book.   “At Atlassian, we know in the next 20 years we are going to have to hire a truck load of computer science people. We’ve got to start breeding them way earlier. We need to train them, at school, now.”   The investment in tech skills and the startup community, both key themes in the book, are argued for by accelerator founder and investor Niki Scevak.   “People call it a brain drain, I call it a brain boomerang, where they’re flying over but they’re coming back a few years later and bringing all that skills and knowledge they’ve had in Silicon Valley back to Australia.”   Google has also launched a video with the book, which celebrates Australian innovation so far and suggests learning to code is a fundamental step for any aspiring inventor today.   Check out the Australian inventions such as boomerangs, notepads, utes, wine casks and Wi-Fi in the video below.   {qtube vid:=THEpcW7vFkc}

News Corp Australia to sponsor start-up tech co-working space Fishburners

12:53AM | Friday, 13 December

Sydney tech start-up community organisation Fishburners has announced a partnership with News Corp Australia that will include financial sponsorship, training and mentoring.   The Ultimo co-working space houses over 150 start-ups, and regularly holds events and training initiatives for the wider community. Start-ups such as Tapestry and goCatch were Fishburners members.   Fishburners executive director Peter Bradd told StartupSmart the funds will enable them to develop their offering significantly.   “As Fishburners is a charity, we fund a lot of our projects through sponsorship and we’re run by volunteers. The News Corp sponsorship will enable us to hire a full-time general manager to take us to the next level,” Bradd says.   The funds will also enable the Fishburners team to run four editions of their internal accelerator program Fast Track in 2014.   Bradd adds Fishburners will be shifting focus next year slightly.   “We’re looking to focus on high growth companies that are investable and will employ staff,” Bradd says. “We’ll be focusing on supporting teams and getting more mentoring happening with some of our bigger companies mentoring backwards to the younger start-ups.”   In a statement, News Corp Australia’s group director digital product and development, Alisa Bowen, said the sponsorship would enable greater innovation within the community.   “Fishburners is a fantastic organisation that plays a key role in the development of some of Australia’s future digital leaders,” Bowen said.   “The potential for Australian digital start-ups is huge and News Corp Australia is pleased to be playing such a prominent role, through Fishburners, in developing and collaborating with the industry.”   Bradd says 2014 will see increased collaboration between start-ups and companies such as News Corp.   “We’re very excited that companies like News are working with start-ups, and enabling more access and open innovation with start-ups getting to access to corporate problems to fix.”

Startup Spring Festival to include over 100 events

9:56AM | Thursday, 12 September

The first ever annual Startup Spring Festival, a celebration and awareness raising festival about the Australian tech start-up scene, now includes over 100 events.   The festival will include hackathons and start-up weekends, “walkabout” tours of incubators and co-working spaces, as well as a wide range of educational opportunities and travelling events.   Launched in late August, the festival is coordinated by StartupAus, a not-for-profit collective of tech entrepreneurs including Google Australia director of engineering Alan Noble; Freelancer founder Matt Barrie; Shoes of Prey founder Michael Fox, Bill Bartee from Southern Cross Ventures; and Peter Bradd, chief executive of Sydney co-working tech hub Fishburners.   The festival aims to showcase the tech start-up scene across the country, in major cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, but also in rising tech start-up cities Brisbane and Adelaide. There will also be events in Perth, Tasmania and Canberra.   In August, Bradd told StartupSmart the event was designed to get the good news and momentum building in the tech start-up scene out beyond to a wider audience.   “Strategically, we need to show there is momentum to get buy-in from other stakeholders. Government, big corporates and some universities don’t quite understand or believe in entrepreneurs, so awareness is quite important for making change,” Bradd said.

Tech start-ups could contribute $109 billion to local economy by 2033

4:17PM | Monday, 22 April

Tech start-ups have the potential to contribute $109 billion to the Australian economy, or around 4% of GDP, by 2033, according to a new report, which identifies four key ways to unlock the potential of the sector.   The report, titled The Startup Economy: How to support tech startups and accelerate Australian innovation, was commissioned by Google and prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers.   Preliminary findings of the report, which provides a snapshot of Australia’s 1500 tech start-ups, were released in March.   Google commissioned the report after helping form #startupAUS, a new industry group that is working on a national campaign to promote the Australian tech start-up sector.   The group is led by Google Australia engineering director Alan Noble, founder Matt Barrie, Shoes of Prey co-founder Michael Fox, Fishburners’ Peter Bradd, Southern Cross Ventures’ Bill Bartee and Startmate founder Niki Scevak.   Google and PricewaterhouseCoopers have now released the findings of their report, which shows start-ups have the potential to contribute $109 billion or 4% of gross domestic product – and 540,000 jobs – to the Australian economy by 2033.   According to PwC partner and economist Jeremy Thorpe, the findings will prove useful as the start-up sector continues to grow.   “There is no comprehensive catalogue of start-ups in Australia [but] we believe there’s 1500 start-ups in Australia… The majority are in Sydney,” Thorpe says.   “The vast majority of start-ups do not succeed – they actually fail… [Only] 40% of entrepreneurs in the start-up space, when they fail, will start again.”   The report highlights four key ways to unlock the potential of the Australian start-up sector:   Attract more entrepreneurs with the right skills   In the short term, Australia needs 2000 more tech entrepreneurs each year drawn from the existing workforce.   In the long term, Australia’s education sector must produce more skilled tech entrepreneurs.   Encourage more early stage funding   Funding for the Australian tech start-up sector will need to increase.   Australia invests approximately $US7.50 per capita in venture capital per annum, compared to the United States ($75) and Israel ($150).   Open up local markets to tech start-ups   Governments are major consumers, with spending totalling $41 billion in 2012. They can become more start-up-friendly with procurement reform.   “Companies can [also] think more innovatively about how they use start-ups,” Thorpe says.   Foster a stronger and open culture of entrepreneurship   Australia has a considerably higher “fear of failure” rate than nations like the US and Canada, constraining the sector.   The tech community is key to changing this by celebrating its own success and becoming more inclusive.   According to Noble, this last point is a key takeaway.   “This is a good thing – that the community realises the fate of the sector is actually in its own hands,” Noble says.   “#startupAUS is a start-up itself. We’re still actually figuring out what the organisation’s structure will look like. It will be some form of not-for-profit.   “We want to make sure it’s very much driven by the community itself. It won’t be like your traditional government body – it will be a much more community-led organisation.   “A big part of its success will be ensuring we do provide ways for the community to collaborate… and, with any new venture, no one has a monopoly on ideas.   “Hopefully the research released today will go some way to helping to inform the debate and get to where we need to go by 2033.”

Google to examine Australian start-up scene for StartupAUS project

3:48AM | Wednesday, 20 March

Google has commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to gather data on Australian tech start-ups, and has already released preliminary findings, after partnering with five well-known Australian tech entrepreneurs including Matt Barrie.

How Australia’s top start-up incubators performed in 2012

12:59PM | Wednesday, 19 December

It’s fair to say 2012 was a mammoth year, not only for the various incubators and co-working spaces, but for the Australian start-up scene in general.

Five top time-saving tools for soloists

11:51AM | Wednesday, 14 November

If there’s one thing sole traders are starved of, it’s time. Fortunately, the vast range of technology options open to modern day start-ups provide plenty of time-saving tools designed to help time-poor entrepreneurs.

Optus to sponsor co-working hub Fishburners for two more years

9:20AM | Wednesday, 19 September

Sydney co-working space Fishburners has extended its sponsorship deal with Optus, effectively ensuring that it remains viable for the next three years.

Collaborate to innovate

5:58AM | Wednesday, 2 May

The age-old notion of artists collaborating in a central space has been given life in the 21st century as start-up businesses champion the practise of co-working with each other.