The Morrison government has pledged $539 million to low-emissions tech — will any of it reach Aussie startups?

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Source: AAP/Mick Tsikas.

The Morrison government has pledged $539.23 million for investment in low-emissions technology. But, it’s unclear exactly how much the cash will boost the local tech ecosystem, or the startups already working to tackle climate change.

Of that cash, $275.5 million is pegged to accelerate the development of four additional clean hydrogen hubs, and to implement a ‘clean hydrogen certification scheme’.

The other $263.7 million will be used to fund the development of carbon capture, use and storage projects, particularly through investment in science and entrepreneurialism.

At a press conference yesterday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison repeatedly referred to the “new energy economy”, of net-zero emissions.

Australia will play “a huge part in that” he said, by “backing in the best scientists, the best entrepreneurs, the best pioneers”.

There’s not a whole lot of detail available yet about how exactly this investment will be deployed, with more information expected in the federal budget next month.

But, it’s likely some of the money will find its way into the tech ecosystem, helping bolster some of the startups already working on innovative energy solutions.

It’s worth mentioning, however, that Morrison failed to make any mention of ‘renewable’ energy, which is what many Aussie startups are focused on.

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said in a statement that the investment “will reduce technical and commercial barriers to deploying these technologies”.

It is also intended to encourage “large-scale investment from the private sector”, helping to create new jobs and support the economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.

That said, Taylor also announced the government is “actively pursuing” opportunities for collaboration on low emissions technologies, including with Germany, Japan, Singapore and South Korea.

This begs the question as to why the government would look for collaboration opportunities abroad while there are high-tech businesses —and incubators and accelerators to support them — working on solving energy challenges right on its doorstep.

Equally, while any funding for low-emissions tech will likely be welcomed by the startup community in this space, in the grand scheme of things — particularly in tech investment — $263 million might not actually stretch very far. By comparison, just yesterday a local startup secured $233 million in funding from one single venture capital firm.

The government’s broader roadmap will see some $18 billion invested into low-emissions technology by 2030.

But, the value of the clean energy market is expected to double between 2016 and 2025, and demand for renewable energy solutions in Australia is already soaring — bolstered by the pandemic.

Arguably, this is a time for going hard and riding the momentum of the startups that already making waves in this sector close to home.

Judging by his speech, Morrison understand the value of what can get done when tech communities come together.

“You wonder how Silicon Valley started,” he said.

“It started by creating a community of people who are innovating in technology and using technology and changing the world.”

He wants to see hubs like this emerging in Australia, he said. Perhaps he should look a little closer.

What do you think of this funding pledge? Is this a step in the right direction for Australia? Does it go far enough, or is it too little too late? Let us know.

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Michael Armstrong
Michael Armstrong
7 months ago

As usual it’s all talk . They say they helping Australian business and tech but then they go an build $150 m infrastructure to help Amazon’s new warehouses which will swamp most small businesses. Or give it to companies with ideas that will make no huge impact but they fit their current popularity agendas . They have no idea and no forward Australian plan that consecutive governments can work towards making this country better with proper tech /start ups etc , being drought proof or supply chain secure.

Last edited 7 months ago by Michael Armstrong