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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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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.

Tax reform is recommended as the key to support innovation, especially in biotechnology, which has the potential to be a major economic driver for Australia. It can deliver new technologies, high value exports, high- quality jobs and advanced manufacturing, if we can build on our established strengths for our future growth.

Government cannot directly fund to the level needed to optimise nation-building innovation impacts. Therefore, we need to look at tax reform, which stimulates innovation and enables Australia to retain what it has build and what it is yet to build, and specifically attract private capital investment. To gain the economic and social benefits, we recommend tax reform to support research-and-development-based innovation is critical in the following areas:
• Introduce a new tax benefit for qualifying ‘advanced’ manufacturers based on intellectual property, the Australian Innovation and Manufacturing Incentive (AIM Incentive). The incentive is based on the UK Patent Box but of course needs to be tailored by Parliament and industry to suit local needs. As CSL described to the Innovation Inquiry, building plant and manufacturing in Australia is less attractive than other jurisdictions. The patent box, or a version of it, is now active in 9 countries with the USA moving toward such a tax change this year. If for no other reason than competition, Australia needs to adopt something comparable. • Introduce a tax incentive to attract investor capital and to encourage long-term investments in start-ups. To attract private capital investments and support entrepreneurship, AusBiotech is advocating for a tax incentive to encourage investors to invest in young innovation-based growth companies and to ‘park’ their capital in pre-revenue, pre-dividend companies for lengthy periods. These so-called ‘patient investors’ are desirable as they provide more stability and certainty to start-up companies. • Preserve R&D Tax Incentive benefits in-tact, which is now seen by our sector as the number 1 policy issue requiring protection. The desire of government to reduce the benefit from 45% to 43.5% is not welcome and will disadvantage more keenly, small unlisted and listed companies who are not yet selling product. This is the category in greatest need of support. International competition is extreme and increasing, with serious investment occurring in many other key countries. Australia now needs to decide the importance of innovation in its economic future – its role in productivity and jobs - and make an appropriately-serious commitment to how best to drive the desired outcomes.

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.

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).

Most Seed Stage Start-up raises are under $500k.
Not the ones that will be the "next Facebook"
All the rest from major cities to regional towns.
We need to empower these brave supporters and innovators in their early days. They move forward tranche by tranche as goals are achieved until ready for a Series A. However ... the centralised regulatory and cost structure does not empower this area of funding. Including proposed Online CSEF regs. In the U.S. nearly 60 billion of funding is in this class roughly equal to 58 billion by VC, Angel and Bank finance to the same space. Lets firstly legitimise it, lower the cost and then empower it. Lets have: 1) Investment legitimisation at the "small end" that is seen as primarily funding not as an asset class play. 2) An open, shared, fully transparent, zero cost, trust based transactional recording and reporting environment where all Stakeholders including ASIC play. Why should everyone have separate ledgers for the same information and costly external trust guardians when the transaction should be the trust identifier. Goal would be that eventually this would be blockchain powered. This would remove annual cost of keeping filing info up to date with ASIC, accountants costs for duplicate share registries, real time deal reporting with continual visibility on transaction volume so abnormalities can be addressed by regulator and stakeholders, standarised templates to lower costs, transactions permanently stored with full transparent history, clear unambiguous risk warnings time stamped accepted and recorded as part of the open, shared, fully transparent, zero cost, trust based transactional recording and reporting environment. You wont need big buildings, bank vaults and floors of filing cabinets in the future to evidence a trust based funding transaction. Lets get a lead in the world and empower these brave passionate supporters and innovators now.

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.

People submitting ideas
Jason Harrop David Simons Tim Parsons Todd Hubers Rohan McDougall Denis M A sh Phil McFadden Glenn Phillips Michelle Vanzella David fagan Alan Jones Anne-Marie Elias Steve Zanon Sunny Goold Clayton White Craig Thomler Dave Hall Andrew Macpherson Lachlan Blackhall mark gering Tracey Murray ulrich schild Jack Taylor Nathan Waters