The Labor party wants university graduates to be able to apply for HECS-style loans to start their own businesses.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten will take the $5.5 million policy to the next federal election, with the aim of giving budding entrepreneurs a much-needed financial boost.
The policy would involve as many 2000 students applying for and receiving business loans of about $10,000 each year, according to Fairfax.
The loans would come with professional mentoring and would need to be paid back when the university graduate starts earning $54,000 or more.
Labor’s announcement follows a decision by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull appointing former education minister Christopher Pyne as the minister for industry, innovation and science.
Former backbencher Wyatt Roy has been appointed assistant minister for innovation.
Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin, former EY Entrepreneur of the Year and founder of startup accelerator BlueChilli, told SmartCompany this morning he thinks having HECS-style loans for budding business owners is a very smart idea.
“The intention of HECS is you get an education and the government supports you financially to get that education because there’s a logic you’ll end up getting a higher-paying job and you’ll pay that back when you get that high-paying job,” Eckersley-Maslin says.
“Going to university and getting a degree to get a decent job is only one way in the modern economy to become financially successful. Another way is to start you own company. It makes sense to do this.”
While the policy is in its early days, Eckersley-Maslin says mentorships and a structured program would be necessary in order for the startup loans to be truly effective.
“There definitely needs to be some accreditation, because you don’t want this to be a free for all for people to spend on schoolies,” he says.
“It needs to go through some structured program just like getting a degree.”
Eckersley-Maslin says it is an exciting time at the moment with both the Coalition and Labor putting innovation front and centre in their policy announcements.
Shortly after winning the Liberal leadership ballot, Turnbull said the Australia of the future needs to be “agile”, “innovative” and “creative”.
Earlier this week, Labor leader Bill Shorten flagged his party’s intention to adopt further policies aimed at prioritising science, technology, engineering and maths skills at university.
“I think we have bipartisan support for the topic of innovation for this country,” Eckersley-Maslin says.
“It’s a very powerful thing and it’s the first time in a long time I’ve felt excited that our leaders in this country are going to put their heads together and work on something which is going to be important for our startups and economy.”