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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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The challenge is how do we expect people to start businesses if they don't get exposed to it. So many students are told about careers and further training when they are at school, but miss out on being exposed to the exciting opportunities that could transform their region and their country, with starting their own business one of them.

To change this, a full Year 4-12 curriculum needs to be developed for enterprise education and entrepreneurial thinking, to promote a knowledge of how business really works, those 'so-called' soft skills that cover every industry, the capacity to creatively solve everyday problems and to prepare to be the entrepreneurs of the future. This should start with creative approaches to problem solving in primary school where the community actually puts ideas into place because we need to also show that when ideas are proposed that they need to be implemented as well. Then as students progress through school, they'll be exposed to principles around financial accounting (and personal budgeting), developing and implementing strategy, the ability to pitch and build partnerships, and also about their own local economy as well.
This has to be supported by providing existing businesses leaders an opportunity to get into schools and sustain the cycle as well. When businesses and schools are two separate silos, then of course students will not see business as a place to move into and how they can start their own. But these business owners are important, as we can't just promote entrepreneurs to create new jobs, as we need intrepreneurs to go into existing businesses and sustain them as well. Countless Australians are employed in businesses who right now are strong, but they will remain strong if new capable young people step into those businesses and keep them strong. Once the curriculum is in place, then our young people will also be able to apply for funding and properly pitch for the funds that are already out there. Often when new business areas are opened up, the funding and application process requires an existing knowledge of business so entrepreneurs struggle to get the leg up existing businesses already have - and we need to level the playing field by teaching these skills early. That way the existing funding models can be enhanced and used to go further because it's not only existing businesses getting subsidies, but new ones getting the start they need.

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.

Make it easier for Small Ventures (Small businesses and Startups) t grow. The regulatory burdens for small businesses and startups are significant.

Between collecting the GST and sending this off, collecting PAYGW, Super and Company Tax, ASIC registrations each year, establishing a structure so you don't loose your home if there is a problem, paying accountants and book keepers so you can focus on your venture.. Work Cover, Directors and professional liability insurance, Payroll tax reporting each month, the list goes on.. There needs to be a simpler way, that ensures that founders spend more their time building their enterprises and less time dealing with paperwork, or worrying about compliance.
I would suggest 1. a one stop shop for all small to medium sized businesses that covers both State and Federal compliance and tax burdens, 2. A threshold that means that these small ventures don't have to meet some of these burdens at all or as frequently. 3. Make it easier for businesses at these scale to grow, or contract when times are leaner, perhaps some exceptions and incentives for small startups and small businesses to hire (rather than just use contractors and freelancers) 4. Let founders use their Self Managed Super Funds (SMSF) as capital in their ventures. 5. and lastly, recognise that rarely does success come without a measure of failure and without taking risks.. We need to have strict laws to prevent cowboys and the disreputable, and hold all entrepreneurs to high ethical standards, but the state should also provide some protection for businesses to re-structure without forcing bankruptcy or stigma. Many of our most successful international entrepreneurs all faced hard times and went on to achieve even greater success. We need to accept that this is also part of the story.

"founders gonna found" - but not necessarily in Australia. The focus of policy needs to be on encouraging founders to choose to start their business here in Australia.

It is founders who decide where to start their company, when to raise money and from whom, and then how aggressively to scale/expand (read: employ people).
In deciding where to do my third startup, I looked for any excuse to do it here. Just give me a reason, please!! But try as we might, we couldn't justify it:- [People] We looked for cities where there's lots of good people that don't cost the earth, where quality of life is high, and cost of living is OK. On this front the problem with Sydney/Melbourne is that the cost of living is high, and there is limited talent (compared to Europe or California etc). Not sure what we can do about house prices, but maybe we can encourage more offshore talent to move here? [Capital] My perception (rightly or wrongly) is that a founder is better off getting money in California or London, especially if they need the money! [Customers] Proximity to customers - not so much of a concern for us. For many IT businesses, you can serve customers anywhere. But for us, with enterprise customers, the more that are on your doorstep, the merrier. Still, Melbourne or Sydney would be fine as a starting point. [Regulatory environment - CGT] CGT in Australia is much higher than UK (with their entrepreneur's relief). So if you make a successful exit, the government is going to take more, and much more than is reasonable. This is a killer. Government does not share the risk, but they expect a significant slice of the return. CGT is a major issue for founders, employees with a share in the business, and investors. [Regulatory environment - Income tax] And before exit, company income tax is a crippling 30%. Come on! The talk of lowering it a few per cent isn't interesting. Look at Ireland etc. That's where Australia needs to be. Australian tech businesses bring in much needed export income. Maybe these dollars could be taxed less? Were it not for CGT, we might have decided to run our business from here, with either US or AU funding. But that was the straw which meant North American and European cities outcompeted Sydney and Melbourne. You can be a high tax regime, coz somewhere has to be. You can be a place with limited talent, coz somewhere has to be. And you can be a place where its hard to raise money. But you shouldn't be all three!

**** Basic Overhaul (from someone who's been self made in software since 19 years of age, now 42) ****

**** Access to Interest Free Start Up Capital *****
Additional access to initial seed capital through interest free loans from the government would be a great idea. A bond system, which gives the developers / inventors / startups an out clause, where in the event of total commercial failure, they only have to pay back the money at a slow rate, with no interest. It keeps people to account, because essentially its there own money and it will need repaying. Also a commitment that anyone using these interest free funds will maintain their base of operations in Australia and under Australian taxation, rather than loophole out overseas. Have a basic means testing structure with the loans, to prevent people of very small repayment means accessing too much capital and getting into too much debt. E.g. some startups have owners who are earning $150K per year, others are people earning $38K a year. Keep the loan ratio proportionate to capacity to repay. **** Allow Startup Investors to Access Government Interest Free Capital **** Allow Investors to put in a proportion of their own money for investment and then have the interest free government capital match that amount. Make the Start Up Investor the owner of that Interest Free money debt, with long term repayment possibilities. **** Access to Expert Developers **** Shared expert development and programmer group pools, who can work across multiple projects. Programming talent is in short supply in Australia as many leave. This shared resource approach would create a pool of talent accessible by backed ventures. **** Paid Access to Experts **** Some access to previously successful mentors and "successes" in the start up area. But rather than this being an act of altruism or charity from the mentor, make it a commitment with some commercial benefit to the mentor, so that they can commit more than a 2 minute phone call or a coffee meeting once a month.

**** Greater Tax Credits **** Make the R&D rebate significantly higher for the first 5 years of operation for any new startup company. Properly incentivising the taxation R&D rebate to a higher level will encourage the necessary early spending. **** **** Greater Tax Benefits for Investors **** Make this a clear and easy system, so mum and dad investors and smaller wealth can see a much simpler path to investment and the tax benefits.

**** Make Self Manager Super Investable - into start ups **** Give Investors access to their super funds (or part thereof), as a tax efficient investment, under the self manager super system. Keep the benefits they have currently of self managed investments, if they invest in a startup. This opens up massive amounts of Australian wealth from the baby boomers, down to the younger generations. Make it simple and easy to manage.

Firstly, the Government needs a robust strategy that is inclusive of all forms of technology and stages of innovation. Specific programs and agendas that direct funding and support to specific sectors are ok but there needs to be a recognition that disruptive innovation can come from the unseen and unexpected. Programs that are broad based, such as the R&D Tax Incentive, should be included in a suite of programs to assist innovation from research through to large scale industry.

Startup and SME support ideas (many already being discussed, they need to be brought together in a coherent strategy):
- crowd funding; - angel capital gains tax relief; - increase R&D Tax Incentive for projects that have a high degree of University collaboration; - increasing the University ownership rules for R&D Tax Incentive eligibility, to increase the encouragement for a University to spin out technology; - align the small business tax incentives with the R&D tax incentives, i.e. the last Federal budget allowed increased capital write-offs, but this does not align with R&D tax eligibility; and - co-fund education programs, such as: Incubators/Accelerators, under a grant program that supports appropriately skilled people to help educate the innovators. Commercialisation and large business support ideas (as above many already being discussed, they need to be brought together in a coherent strategy : - continue to improve the Accelerating Commercialisation grant program. - a refundable patent box commercialisation incentive on the basis that it follows the current approved OECD guidelines that there is a required nexus to the R&D tax scheme. It needs to ensure that it is a workable and beneficial program for SMEs as well as Large business. - the $100 million R&D tax expenditure cap should be removed, why should high spend R&D entities not receive full benefits. There are significant flow on economic benefits for the employment of R&D staff. It is very likely that the companies that do spend over this cap will move the work offshore and thus the small R&D tax cost will be highly outweighed by the loss of employee taxes.

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China is Australia's largest trading partner, eclipsing our second and third largest trading partners, the US and Japan combined. China is rapidly shifting its global role from imitator to innovator and has filed the most domestic patent applications of any country since 2011. China is fast becoming a leading investor in innovation, with leading research universities, modern science and technology parks, and innovative start-ups. Chinese companies, which are investing more and more in R&D, are demonstrating a growing concern for IP rights. In China there are 17 million designers, 15 thousand design organisations, 50 thousand consumer products designed per year with a 10% success rate and 5 million start-ups.

It would be a grave error of the Australian innovation community to underestimate the impact of this swift rise and its scale when other nations sure aren't doing so.
The opportunity for Australia is awesome! We have a tremendous opportunity to develop the Australian innovation ecosystem by getting our engagement with China right but we currently lack the human capital in Australia with the skills, networks and confidence to work collaboratively with China. We have too few China-skilled young innovators and emerging leaders coming through the talent pipeline to fully populate this ecosystem. To develop any ecosystem, one must have a sense of the future conditions it will take place within. China will soon be the world’s largest economy and a leader in innovation and innovation investment. Any discussion of the future of Australia's innovation ecosystem, the policies which underpin it and how we develop entrepreneurs and innovators of the future must involve active mobilisation of the China opportunity.

People submitting ideas
Patrick Mooney Michelle Narracott Alex Butterworth Nigel Hennessy Karen Spiller D Haley David Simons Aaron Thomas Cameron Wall Gary McGhee David MacSmith Paul Cheever Parth Gulati Hector Titterton Axle Max Andrew Downing Paul Niederer MIchael McCann Alex Ghiculescu Simon Spencer Timothy Holborn Dave Hall Garry Visontay Pete Ratcliffe Lee Wallace