New South Wales voters go to the polls this Saturday to decide who will run the country’s most populous state for the next four years.
The coalition has been in charge since 2011 and the consensus is that this election is too close, with the potential for a new minority government – something current Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet has worked with since taking over from Gladys Berejiklian 18 months ago.
But amid debates about health care, education, kids’ savings accounts, faster toll roads and slot machine reforms, the startup and tech sectors are feeling neglected.
Ahead of the election, Business NSW called on major parties to commit to a $1.3 billion venture capital fund to support startups. The call follows in the footsteps of Victorian Prime Minister Dan Andrews and his announcement in 2021 of the $2 billion Breakthrough Victoria fund.
Daniel Hunter, CEO of Business NSW, said the state risks losing a generation of entrepreneurs and startups due to a lack of investment, with NSW falling behind Victoria in the race to become the entrepreneurial state.
“A venture capital fund will bring global investment management expertise to NSW, nurture our world-leading research and development into domestic jobs and nurture a whole new generation of entrepreneurs.”
“As the cost of living crisis bites in Australia and rents continue to rise, there is not enough focus on how this will impact start-ups and future-proofing the vibrant entrepreneurial community we have here in NSW,” he said.
“NSW has been at the forefront of innovation with some of Australia’s largest tech and fintech startups challenging the status quo and continuously striving for change. Companies like Afterpay, Canva, Atlassian, Airtasker and Zip have all thrived in NSW, but the concern is in the current climate, without more funding we will see a decline in these success stories.
“With funding becoming increasingly challenging and the cost to operate spiraling out of control, we are asking for more funding to help startups thrive and survive in some of the toughest business environments we have seen in our time.”
Start up daily asked both the coalition government and the Labor opposition about their policies towards the tech and startup sectors. Their responses are listed verbatim below.
Minister of Enterprise, Investment and Trade; Minister of Science, Innovation and Technology
The NSW Liberal and Nationals Government believes in supporting start-ups and entrepreneurs. That’s why we’ve helped build the country’s leading innovation ecosystem that competes on the global stage with companies like Silicon Valley, London and New York.
The NSW Liberal and Nationals Government is committed to boosting work in this field and investing record amounts in commercialization, technology development and innovation.
Most deep tech companies are built on new and unproven technology that has the potential to change people’s lives, but they struggle to navigate the valley of death.
The NSW Liberal and Nationals Government has a wide range of national leading programs aimed at supporting innovation and commercialization including MVP Ventures, the Biosciences Fund, the Physical Sciences Fund, the Quantum Computing Commercialization Fund and the Small Business Innovation & Research program .
The NSW Liberal and Nationals Government also provides hands-on support through our startup and scale-up hubs in Sydney’s Tech Central, in the CBD and Western Sydney.
In line with our long-term economic plan to move NSW forward, we support our homegrown innovators to turn their ideas into real commercial results, creating jobs and economic prosperity for our state.
The 2022 Innovation and Productivity Scorecard showed that NSW has a growing venture capital presence, with over 300 additional venture capital firms choosing to operate in NSW since 2019.
Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Minister for Digital
NSW Labor has a plan to support local startups and harness the power of public procurement to do so. Currently, small and medium-sized businesses are too often excluded from winning government tenders, this will change under Labour.
A Labor government will increase local sourcing by including a local supplier element in tender weightings, giving priority to small businesses in the area near the projects. Along with raising the small business direct procurement threshold from $150,000 to $250,000.
A Minns Labor government will also establish the NSW Business Bureau to help companies navigate regulations and processes, as well as enter into overseas markets. The Bureau will also assist small businesses in tendering for government contracts, providing guidance for access to government programs, grants and initiatives.
Labor will work together to support start-ups and grow local industry.