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The Federal Government is committed to making innovation a centrepiece of the Australian economy. Policy Hack is an opportunity for industry to develop and pitch innovative solutions to some of Australia’s most pressing policy problems and help foster the growth of innovation industries in Australia.

Along with Assistant Minister for Innovation Hon. Wyatt Roy MP, BlueChilli will bring together representatives from startups, VC funds, accelerators and other components of the innovation ecosystem, with policy experts from departments of Treasury, Industry and Communications to collaborate in a one-day industry policy hackathon in Sydney, Saturday 17 October 2015.

We’ll use the hackathon methodology to nominate, select and work together in mixed teams on new government policy ideas designed to foster the growth of innovation industries including tech startups, biotech, agtech, fintech, renewables and resources.

Funding, taxation, education, migration — everything is on the table.

The champions on the highest voted policies will be invited to Sydney to lead teams on the day to workshop their ideas with government representatives.

The goal is to present a set of creative new ideas to an audience of government officials by the end of the day, to give them the top-line thinking from which full policy can be developed and implemented.

If you have a policy idea or you’d like to see and vote on which policy ideas are collaborated on at Policy Hack, you can get started right now.

The Federal Government is committed to making innovation a centrepiece of the Australian economy. Policy Hack is an opportunity for industry to develop and pitch innovative solutions to some of Australia’s most pressing policy problems and help foster the growth of innovation industries in Australia.

Along with Assistant Minister for Innovation Hon. Wyatt Roy MP, BlueChilli will bring together representatives from startups, VC funds, accelerators and other components of the innovation ecosystem, with policy experts from departments of Treasury, Industry and Communications to collaborate in a one-day industry policy hackathon in Sydney, Saturday 17 October 2015.

We’ll use the hackathon methodology to nominate, select and work together in mixed teams on new government policy ideas designed to foster the growth of innovation industries including tech startups, biotech, agtech, fintech, renewables and resources.

Funding, taxation, education, migration — everything is on the table.

The champions on the highest voted policies will be invited to Sydney to lead teams on the day to workshop their ideas with government representatives.

The goal is to present a set of creative new ideas to an audience of government officials by the end of the day, to give them the top-line thinking from which full policy can be developed and implemented.

If you have a policy idea or you’d like to see and vote on which policy ideas are collaborated on at Policy Hack, you can get started right now.

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If Australia is to use science successfully to drive forward its economy and quality of life we must, as a nation, become much more adept at the science of complex systems (e.g., the human body, the Murray Darling basin system, integrated agriculture, national water systems particularly groundwater, mineral systems and how to explore for them in the covered areas of Australia).
Unfortunately our policy settings, and therefore our funding mechanisms, do not facilitate the effective undertaking and implementation of complex-system science. Given the inherent scientific capability that exists in Australia this represents a reckless waste of potential to drive innovation across a broad spectrum of systems, innovation that would have a massive positive impact on our economy and future.
We also require a change in our cultural attitude to "applied science"; an epithet that is used in Australia to imply a lower quality of science not requiring the focus of our best scientific minds. There is no such thing as applied science, there is only science and applications of science. We need to recognise that science undertaken with the specific intent of an application (where others might make decisions worth hundreds of millions of dollars) demands the highest quality and the best minds.
The UNCOVER initiative (more information is available at http://www.uncoverminerals.org.au/ ) is tackling these issues in the specific domain of mineral exploration. The stated goal of UNCOVER is "To create the scientific knowledge and new technologies necessary to lift the success rate of mineral exploration in the covered areas of Australia to the levels enjoyed 30 years ago in the uncovered areas." The UNCOVER program recognises that this goal can only be achieved through substantial innovation carefully targeted at the real knowledge- and technical-impediments faced by Australia's minerals exploration industry. Hence UNCOVER is operating as a collaboration of 28 industry companies, 9 government agencies, 10 academic institutions, and 5 other influential organisations (e.g. the Australian Academy of Science and the Minerals Council of Australia). Yet in Australia there is no policy coverage for initiatives of this type. The PolicyHack conference represents an opportunity to redress these kinds of problems in Australia.

In my experience, one of the biggest pain points in growing a startup is in hiring and recruitment, which stems from issues in education. There are not very many students studying courses which teach them how to code. Those that do, and are good, get snapped up very quickly by the highest bidder (often a Silicon Valley behemoth). Encouraging more students to study technology related degrees is a good idea for many reasons. Making the local job market more enticing for these students, and especially the job market within growing startups, is a great way to get them actively involved in innovation from the day they finish uni, and a great way to teach them the skills they need (on technical, communication, and business levels) to start their own venture next.

The recent changes to ESOP laws were a step in the right direction. But share options don't put food on the table for new graduates, and giving out options in lieu of salary isn't a good idea for every startup. The ESOP changes applied specifically to private companies below a certain age and revenue threshold. These are the startups that are actively creating jobs, so it makes sense to help them where we can.
The QLD government is launching a program to help startups hire graduates to work on specific projects - http://advanceqld.initiatives.qld.gov.au/funding/knowledge-transfer-partnerships.aspx. It could be improved by focusing on less on research projects and more on outcomes that can be commercialised. The tricky aspect is making sure government doesn't fall into the trap of "picking winners" but instead focuses on helping all startups which have reached a certain level of market validation to grow engineering teams and attract the best talent. I think some form of financial incentive for technical graduates who start their careers at startups would be a significant boost to the startup's ability to recruit top talent, and for new graduates to get actively involved in the innovation ecosystem. Call it the Australian Startup Signing Bonus, and make it, say, $10,000 if they stay with the startup for 6 months.


As a 20 year old currently going through the university system and having just completed the HSC after 12 years of schooling, there are only two things that stand out to me: that I still see no value in 90% of the content that I learnt at school, and that despite this, according to the ATAR system, I am apparently smarter than 90% of the students my age. What do I have to show for it? A basic understanding and a will to address the world’s problems, but absolutely no confidence in my ability to do so.

The single thing that sets humanity apart from every other species in the animal kingdom is our ability to communicate and interact with each other - an ability that the internet and the process of globalisation are rapidly accelerating. So how then does it make sense that our entire economy and education system is ENTIRELY GROUNDED UPON SELF-INTEREST AND COMPETITION? The world and its problems are now the biggest they have ever been, and they are only going to get bigger if we limit the perspective of future generations. IN REGARDS TO IMPLEMENTATION, we need a schooling system that is flexible enough that a cohort of school leavers could become a company. We need a school system where GROUP WORK IS PRIORITISED, and in which the skills of students are known, utilised, and respected, NOT a system that isolates students from each other and asks them all to ‘find x’. We need subjects that are taught WITH THE PRIMARY OBJECTIVE of understanding and solving the worlds problems, not subjects that are packed with compartmentalised regurgitated content. We need a schooling system that properly utilises the availability of the internet in an inter-connected world, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, we need a schooling system that promotes collaboration rather than competition. Luckily THERE IS ALREADY SOMETHING BEING DONE that could provide a framework for these changes: the Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation at UTS, which is a degree UNLIKE ANY OTHER IN THE WORLD that places emphasis on group work, lateral thinking, and which works with clients such as the City of Sydney to solve real-world issues. In terms of VALUE FOR MONEY, the changes that have been presented mainly involve a structural and ideological shift, the cost of which could be more than offset by the increased efficiency and entrepreneurial ambition of young innovators. The horizon for innovation is limitless, and we should pursue it with ambition!

Innovation opportunity for every working Australian

Over 90% of Australians are employed in jobs within existing industries, which deliver $2000 Billion of GDP.
Innovation in established organisations creates the most value for the economy, and yet is often overlooked in the discussion about innovation and entrepreneurship. While start-ups are important, they are high risk/high reward, require new capital and impacts are relatively long term; existing organisation innovation can be managed, is funded internally and can have immediate impact. Australia needs a balanced approach to innovation and engage the greatest proportion of Australians! Success from existing organisation innovation is evident across all sectors from health, finance, manufacturing to consumer goods and food. Results from these organisations over nearly 10 years show an average of 1% per annum improvement of organisation performance. Were this replicated nationally this represents $20 billion per annum. However the take up within organisations is not significant. A focus on innovation for existing organisations in established sectors is needed to create productivity and growth and also responsive cultures able to adopt and adapt to innovation. The work has been done, national support is required to expand. Options 1. Support and expand the best practice principles for Governing Innovation from the Australia Institute of Company Directors. (http://www.companydirectors.com.au/Director-Resource-Centre/Director-QA/Director-Tools/Governing-innovation) 2. Support and expand the implementation of existing training credentials from IBSA (Innovation Business Skills Australia) through existing funding of the Industry Skills Fund and new methods of delivery to develop the range of capabilities required 3. Support the Innovator Recognition Program as identified by the NSW Public Service Commissioner as a framework for implementing innovation in existing organisations. See http://catalystexchange.com.au/catalyst-services-5/catalyst-development/innovator-recognition-program 4. Support and expand the Collaborative Innovation Forum (http://catalystexchange.com.au/catalyst-services-5/catalyst-development/collaborative-innovation-forum ) that operates in Canberra and brings public sector innovators together with private sector innovators to share best practice. 5. Support and expand the existing R&D Tax Incentive to include non-technical innovation. 6. Support and expand Collaborative Circles as identified by the Industry Growth Centre, Food Innovation Australia Ltd (http://fial.com.au/collaborative-circles ) and Victorian Agriculture Strategy to accelerate clusters 7. Support leadership strategies for implementing innovation. At Hargraves Institute, 50 members and 150 partners have come together to develop an Agile Innovation Manifesto for existing organisations and employees that gives leaders the foundation to measure performance, reduce risk and deliver real results from innovation. See www.hargraves.com.au Allan Ryan, Executive Director Hargraves Institute