Will the 2017 federal budget contain the next phase of the federal government’s innovation agenda? Will the government choose to invest in the kind of skills and training that will set Australia’s startup ecosystem up for success in years to come?
As business operators around the country wait in anticipation of the 2017 federal budget, StartupSmart asked startup founders and some of the sector’s most prominent players what they’re hoping to hear Treasurer Scott Morrison reveal on Tuesday night.
From an open data regime to more investment in digital skills, here are six big wishes for startups in this year’s budget.
Something tangible for startups: StartupAus chief Alex McCauley
“We haven’t seen anything to indicate that there will be major moves to support the startup sector in this year’s budget, but we remain hopeful.
“There’s still plenty of work to be done to get Australia on par with world leaders in the tech sector.
“The Turnbull government has acknowledged this and has promised a second and third wave of innovation reforms to build on the good work in the National Innovation Statement from 2015. We need to start seeing moves in that direction.”
An open data regime: FinTech Australia chief Danielle Szetho
“We’d love the government to fulfil the commitments from the ‘Backing Australian FinTech’ initiative, especially when it comes to accelerating implementation of an open data regime in Australia.
“Our regulators will need resources to help industry design and implement the new regime to ensure it supports competition and the growth of our fintech industry, but also maintains the high privacy and security standards that Australian consumers expect.
“Implementing an open data regime as recommended by the parliamentary inquiry into the big four banks will ensure Australia’s financial services industry remains competitive against other fast-moving jurisdictions.”
Education reform: Lighthouse Sydney chief and Techfugees co-founder Annie Parker
“My wish for Australia (not just for startups) is I would like there to be a forward-thinking budget.
“We need education reform to include better education of business skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration as well as STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths] skills. And not just in our schools and universities, but also for those in industries that we know are going to become obsolete in the future.
“I want our leaders to change the narrative around digital disruption [to], ‘yes it’s painful but the future is so bright’. The potential for Australia to become world leaders in tech and startups is absolutely there.
“Let’s be bold, let’s embrace it — not waste it.”
Drive investment from property to startups: Startup Victoria chief Georgia Beattie
“My wish is to see stimulation for investment in startups.
“I would like to see greater encouragement and rewards for the investment community to consider higher risk investments.
“We have a lot of capital tied up in Australia that is allocated for property and mining. This is hindering growth in innovation.”
Fill the digital skills gap: ntegrity founder Richenda Vermeulen
“Budget [for startups and SMEs] to train and hire more young people. As a digital strategy agency, people are our biggest asset but there is a significant digital skills shortage in Australia.
“We’ve hired and trained half our strategists fresh out of uni but all the cost and risk currently sits with me.
“If I had financial recompense to train more young people, I would be training double the graduates — enabling me to employ more Australians.”
Back STEM education: GO1 co-founder Andrew Barnes
“The budget should include a focus on the new wave of entrepreneurs through the funding of STEM education initiatives.
“This year, the UK committed to a £500 million [$875 million] investment in technical education for 16- to 19-year-olds.
“A similar initiative from the Australian government is imperative if we are to continue to embrace and take ownership of the digital age.”
Find out which wishes come true on Tuesday 9, May, with StartupSmart‘s special coverage of the 2017 federal budget.