When thinking about innovation, many investors don’t immediately think of Australia. But Australian based innovators have been responsible for a surprising number of inventions that the world depends upon – from the black box flight recorder to WiFi.
Sadly over the last couple of decades, innovation had fallen off the radar to some degree. As a result, talented Australians have sought jobs elsewhere, moving overseas to pursue innovation opportunities. Moreover, uninspired tax policies have hindered, rather than helped, start-ups and innovative companies.
Fortunately over the past five years, the tide has turned and the seeds of an innovation ecosystem have taken root, based around key population hubs. Business incubators, such as Stone and Chalk (a not-for-profit fintech start-up hub in Sydney) and accelerators backed by significant Australian and global organizations are encouraging innovation and partnerships across industry and academia.
At the same time, a change in government thinking has brought forth encouraging commitments on the innovation front. In December, Australia’s new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s first major statement revolved around innovation and entrepreneurship. In his address, he confirmed innovation as a key economic mandate and outlined a number of initiatives aimed at supporting current and future Australian based innovation.
Five key government initiatives outlined in the innovation statement include:
In total, the Australian Government plans to spend around half a billion dollars to support its new innovation agenda. When combined with the innovation focus of universities and the growing interest by industry to partner with other organizations to support technology based innovation, the future is looking bright in Australia.
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David Gelb has been KPMG Australia's representative for the KPMG Enterprise Global Innovative Startups Network, since 2014. He leads the Innovation Practice for KPMG Australia's Tax & Legal Division and was appointed to the Board of KPMG Australia in 2015. David’s experience working with startups includes: high technology, fintech, agritech, IT and digital companies. With 25 years of experience on R&D tax incentives, David is also the Global Head of R&D for KPMG.