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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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One bright idea that could transform innovation in Australia

Australia lacks a small business industrial research program (SBIR) like the United States, and I would argue it has been a vital ingredient for the innovation success in the US for three decades. My day job is advocating for the Cooperative Research Centres in Australia, but I think the number one thing we need is a system that fires up our Start-up/spinoff sector to a much greater degree.
The SBIR scheme in the States serves two purposes: (!) it encourages spin off and start up companies (over half of all spinoffs in the States are spun out to access the scheme) and (2) it is a procurement scheme for government, so the company has the first customer for its product or service lined up. I've written about the scheme in more detail here: http://theconversation.com/one-bright-idea-that-could-transform-innovation-in-australia-43622 The other important aspect of the SBIR scheme in the US is that it is big. Between it and the STTR scheme, they fund nearly 60% of early seed capital, leaving the private VC sector to concentrate on its areas of interest. SBIR achieves many of the things we need in Australia: a bigger VC pool; a more entrepreneurial culture at the university level to move ideas out; start-ups with a customer locked in and ventures that are addressing the national needs (because it forces government departments to articulate their innovation needs).

The "1% rule". Mandate that 1% of all superannuation must be invested in venture capital. PROBLEM: Australia has plenty of entrepreneurs and increasingly there is enough seed investment around to get ventures off the ground. But startups move offshore when they need a Series A/B to grow. Seed-stage startups typically don't employ many people and don't make a profit. It's only when they get to the growth stage and they hire 50, 100, 200 people etc and start turning a profit that they deliver a net benefit to society. Right now, those companies are going offshore because there just aren't enough VCs who play in the Series A or B space ($1m-$10m) and valuations are a lot lower than overseas, which means Australia is missing out on the startup companies that actually generate jobs and tax revenue. Blackbird is doing some amazing work and recently raised a fund from super funds to play in the series A space. But more needs to be done. SOLUTION: mandate that 1% of superannuation funds need to be invested in venture capital specifically for Series A & B rounds. Australia has $2.02 trillion in supernannuation funds as of June 2015. Redirecting 1% of that is not going to hurt anyone, but it is going to make an extra $20 BILLION available to Australia's startup sector. Without affecting the government budget whatsoever. It would probably make more sense to phase this in over time - I don't think Australia could realistically deploy $20 billion in VC investment overnight - but having access to a major pool of capital like that would ensure that more Aussie startups stay in Australia, create jobs here, pay taxes here. And it would also create an "investor class" of previously successful Aussie founders who are able to invest in the next generation of Aussie entrepreneurs.

The future of work is changing rapidly. This is a reality that governments, industries and communities are all faced with. To support the growth of Australia's tech ecosystem and to prepare Australians for 21st century jobs, we need a new approach. In this new Digital Age, a career in tech can bring about financial security and independence, therefore reducing long-term welfare dependancy.

Traditionally, jobs in tech have required a computer science degree. This is out of reach for many disadvantaged, unemployed individuals. But many jobs within the tech ecosystem no longer require a Bachelor's degree. Therefore, we should create an intensive, technical training program which prepares unemployed and/or underemployed Australians for in-demand tech jobs. The curriculum should focus on providing participants with the top job skills most-needed, according to key tech trends. Students should also acquire key professional skills and business skills required to help them land a job upon completion.
Wage subsidies could be offered to employers who provide graduates with a job for at least 12 months. This programme could initially be trialled in a single location, and then expanded based on results. Overall, the training programme could provide valuable opportunities for groups of people who would otherwise be at risk of long-term welfare dependancy. At the same time, it could grow our ecosystem within Australia and drive innovation across various industries.

Almost half of Australia’s population are born overseas or have at least one parent born overseas. It would not take long for the majority population being in this category. Unemployment in the migrant population is around 7% compared to the rest of the population at 5%. Having been a volunteer for over 20 years supporting asylum seekers, refugees and migrants integrate better into Australian society and become more active citizens of their local community especially in Wyndham, Victoria, one of Australia’s fastest growing cities, I know the frustration experienced by this disadvantaged sector of society in seeking full time employment in a highly competitive market where most of the qualifications earned overseas are not recognised. Australia is wasting not just the skills and experience of migrants but also their entrepreneurial talents and potential. Many migrant entrepreneurs and would be entrepreneurs need information and support to establish new businesses and starting trade between Australia and their former home countries. While it is important for Australia to establish trade offices and send delegations overseas to build and improve business links and create opportunities in other countries, the tremendous resource we already have in our migrant entrepreneurs should be tapped – they are highly motivated, know the market, the culture, speak the language and already have the business links. Government needs to fund the establishment of business incubators and co-working spaces to promote entrepreneurship also among the migrant community.

People submitting ideas
David fagan Topaz Conway S Kilham Andrew Waltho Brett Elliott Oliver Damian Peter French Jonathan D'Cruz Lorraine Chiroiu Alan Jones David MacSmith Jonny Wilkinson Robert Mitchell Denis M Vanessa Picker Jessica Menzies David  Brookes Steve Dunn Phil Robertson Ashley Brinson Kate Maddern Dave Hall David Russell Allan Ryan David Simons