Federal Liberal MP Wyatt Roy will travel to Israel in October to find out what makes the Israeli startup ecosystem tick.
The trade mission, which will occur over the course of a week, will see the youngest member of Parliament accompanied by Marita Cheng – the founder of Robogirls and 2012 Young Australian of the Year.
Roy has spearheaded the Abbott government’s discussion of tech startups this year, urging Australia to look “beyond just the farm gate or the mine head” in a parliamentary speech supporting the changes to the taxation of employee share schemes.
Speaking to StartupSmart this morning, Roy said Australia’s future economic prosperity will rely on increasing the number of startups and making the nation as entrepreneurial as possible.
“Future jobs for Australians will depend on our ability to do that,” he says.
As for why Israel was chosen for the trade mission, Roy says for quite a small country Israel produces more startups than Japan, India, Korea, Canada or the UK.
“They attract more per capita in venture capital than any other country on earth,” he says.
“They spend more per capita on R&D than any other country… and they have more companies on the NASDAQ than Korea, Japan, Singapore, China, India and all of Europe combined.”
Australia should adopt an innovation and entrepreneurial policy just as it does for industry and competition, according to Roy, with strong collaboration between multiple government departments, the private sector and higher education.
“In terms of growing the ecosystem, as a country there are three areas we need to focus on, like the changing of the [risk-averse] culture,” he says.
“The attraction of capital is a massive, massive thing and a big part of the Israel trip – and talent as well. And finally that cooperation between government, higher education and business which many countries do very well but obviously I think Israel does better than anyone else.”
Both sides of politics have shown a keen interest in startups this year, with Labor announcing it wants coding taught in every primary and secondary school by 2020.
“People are very cynical about politics but this is an area I’m optimistic about,” Roy says.
“I think we need to put the national interest above partisan interests and this is an area we have huge potential to work on. Of course there will be disagreements around the edges, but the goals, aspirations and the bulk of the policy aspiration is something that could be bipartisan.”