The federal government wants to fulfill an election promise to support university students who want to launch their own startup ideas with a HECS style loan program.
Speaking at the University of Technology Sydney today – home of UTS Startups run by Murray Hurps – iIndustry and Science Minister Ed Husic said the Startup Year program will provide up to 2,000 loans annually to senior and current postgraduates to participate in uni-based incubator or accelerator programs.
“We want our next generation of businesses to grow from the ideas and energy of young Australians. And we want Startup Year to help with that,” he said.
“By expanding access to vital capital and startup programs, we will help diversify the pipeline of talent and skills so that new ideas from all corners of the Australian community can come online.”
Husic said they plan to roll out the program next year and have the Start year consultation document for feedback until mid-November.
“It will strengthen ties between our universities, industry and the startup community, leading to increased research translation and commercialization,” he said.
But the plan comes as the Productivity Commission are third interim report innovation in Australia this week, arguing that with only 1-2% of Australian companies producing true global innovation, the focus should be on the other 98% and the government should move away from investing in public research with grants and incentives towards a more open trade and investment regime and recognition of the value of skilled migration as a source of new ideas.
Deputy Chairman of the Productivity Committee, Dr. Alex Robson, said the policy has traditionally focused on advanced inventions
“But there are likely to be greater benefits to be gained from encouraging day-to-day, incremental innovation across the vast majority of Australian companies,” he said.
“There are worrying signs that the main means of knowledge acquisition and transfer – what we call diffusion – have slowed or come to a standstill. While previously we could rely on labor mobility and investment in machinery, equipment and intangible capital to spread ideas, these have all either stagnated or declined. Diffusion has the potential to improve the performance of more than a million companies.”
The Productivity Committee is after feedback on the interim report 5-year productivity survey: innovation for the 98%.until October 21.
Meanwhile, the Federal Minister of Education Jason Clare supports the Startup Year program and says it will build the pool of expert entrepreneurs and encourage the development of startups to drive innovation.
“The higher education sector has wonderful incubators and support programs for startups, but is limited by the number of students they can take on board,” he said.
“We want Startup Year to learn in concert from the best programs and expand them appropriately to reach new layers of students with great ideas.
“Working in specialized higher education institutions allows these new entrepreneurs to make a profit access to resources, facilities, mentoring and business networks. That way they have the best chance of success.”
Clare said they are providers of higher education, industry, entrepreneurs, investors and students to share their views and advice on how this program should work.
Feedback on the Start year consultation document is open until Nov 15.