StartupAUS says 2016 Federal Budget a ‘missed opportunity’ to advance startup agenda
Australia, 03 May 2016: StartupAUS, Australia’s peak advocacy group for startups, today welcomed support for Fintech and expansion of the New Enterprise Investment Scheme (NEIS) in the Federal Government’s 2016 budget, but said overall this budget was a disappointment for startups with few advances on previous measures.
CEO of StartupAUS Alex McCauley, said: “This is an election year budget, and the first real opportunity for Malcolm Turnbull to outline his vision for the country’s economic future. This budget was a chance for the Government to make good on its rhetoric about continuing to build momentum on innovation and Australia’s economic transition. But, from that perspective, it is a disappointment.
“We welcome the limited support for Fintech in this budget, as well as the extension of the NEIS. Support for young people exploring entrepreneurship is important. But these are small, niche measures in an area that still requires bold, substantial action.
“The Treasurer tonight said that ‘harnessing the power of innovation and entrepreneurship, to create our own ideas boom, lies at the heart of our plan to support jobs and create growth’. But there is little in this budget to advance the government’s support for innovation and entrepreneurship. Almost all the measures relevant to startups that the Treasurer alluded to in his budget speech had already been announced, six months ago, as part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda. None of those measures have come into effect yet, although some have made encouraging progress recently.
“The government is making much of its support for Australia’s transition to a ‘new economy’. But ‘new economy’ spending in this budget has taken the form of billions of dollars spent on old economy industries, like ship-building and traditional rail. R&D spending doesn’t feature prominently. This is a disappointing and outdated approach. Australia needs to substantially boost its R&D spending if it wants to measure up to its international competitors – we are well outside the top 10 countries globally both in terms of absolute R&D expenditure, and as a percentage of GPD.
“The reality is that there is more new money in this budget to help mining companies prospect for resources ($100m) than to help create a supportive environment for our best entrepreneurs to build a high-growth technology company in Australia.
“It’s hard to see Australia as genuinely committed to transitioning to a ‘modern economy’ if its key spending priorities are shipbuilding, rail, and un-targeted business tax cuts. That won’t be lost on those watching our progress closely, both here and overseas.
“Since the announcement of the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) six months ago, the government has been telling startups that the NISA was just the beginning. It has been describing the NISA as a platform from which it will be able to deliver bold, decisive action in this space. This budget was a missed opportunity to make good on that promise.
“Startups didn’t expect any game-changing announcements in this budget. Implementing the NISA agenda items is still the top priority. But it’s critical that we don’t lose sight of the importance of genuine high-growth technology companies as a critical driver of Australia’s emerging economy.
“We see the upcoming election campaign as a key opportunity for both the government and opposition to outline their vision for startups and innovation in this country. We can’t rest on our laurels here – our competitors are acting decisively. We can’t afford to be left behind. We look forward to working with both parties in the lead to the election to make sure Australia has a credible plan to capture some of the extraordinary value that technology is delivering to leading economies around the world.
StartupAUS is a not-for-profit entity with a mission to transform Australia through technology entrepreneurship. StartupAUS believes a strong home-grown tech sector is vital to future Australian jobs and wealth. But getting there will require a national imperative to create the right environment, with a supportive culture and more entrepreneurs with the right skills.
StartupAUS will expand its efforts to bring financial partners on-board to help corporates have a bigger voice in the emerging innovation conversation and assist StartupAUS in increasing its resources and activities ahead of this year’s election, as both sides of politics vie for innovative traction. The organisation’s current corporate partners include Salesforce and Google Australia. It also has a growing list of philanthropic benefactors including successful tech entrepreneur, Steve Baxter, Co-Chairman of CHAMP’s Board of Directors and Investment Committee, Bill Ferris, and Director and Co-Founder of Allen & Buckeridge, Roger Allen.
For more information visit: www.startupaus.org