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Entrepreneurs have much to offer to Rudd’s 2020 digital agenda

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Digital entrepreneur turned Victorian MP Evan Thornley says entrepreneurs would have much to contribute to a summit of Australia’s leading thinkers announced by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd yesterday.

The Australia 2020 summit will bring together 1000 of Australia’s best and brightest to set out a roadmap for Australia’s future in 10 key areas, including skills and innovation, the digital economy, directions for rural industries, climate change and the structure of the Federation.

Thornley says the ability of entrepreneurs to think outside the box could mean they would be able to make a valuable contribution to the summit.

“A lot of entrepreneurs are longer term thinkers that are able to pick up on themes others haven’t discovered, so there would be a wide range of people involved, from academics to policy thinkers and business people and, yes, entrepreneurs as well,” Thornley says.

The challenges presented by Australia’s small economy and geographic isolation would be key issues for working groups on the digital economy to consider, he says.

“The fact is even for online businesses the small scale domestic market is an issue. For most tech ventures penetrating global markets is a key to success, so there are a range of challenges for governments in working out what role they can play to assist with that,” Thornley says.

And Thornley – co-founder of LookSmart, one of Australia’s earliest online start-ups and now Parliamentary Secretary to the Victorian Premier with responsibility for the National Reform Agenda – says he would be happy to participate himself, if invited.

The 1000 thinkers to participate in the summit will be chosen by a working committee of 10 individuals, to be selected by Rudd and summit co-ordinator, Melbourne University vice-chancellor Glyn Davis.

The summit, which will take place in Canberra on 19 and 20 April, will provide a summary of its suggestions to the Federal Government.

“There is much expertise, energies, ideas, enthusiasm, which lie beyond the ranks of Government itself. And we, therefore, want to open the doors of this great Parliament building to the nation’s best and brightest brains in order to harness those ideas to shape the nation’s long term future,” Rudd says.

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