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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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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.

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.

My idea is for government to lead the development of a social enterprise policy assisting social enterprise in Australia reach its full potential.

There is an estimated 20,000 social enterprises in Australia currently employing approx. 300,000 Australians and contributing between 2-3% GDP. However, in Australia there is no government policy or leadership for the growth of social enterprise, making access to business skills and training, investment capital and new markets an ongoing challenge.
As an international comparison, through successive government leadership, the UK has approx. 80,000 social enterprises, contributing to approx. 5-6% of GDP employing over 1 million people. In the US, government has legislated all federal departments to determine if their contract needs can be met by social enterprise. This has resulted in social enterprises securing $2 billion per annum from government contracts creating jobs for 50,000 people with disability. As a viable business model, social enterprises are businesses that exist with the intention and commitment to create positive social impact while using the marketplace to trade and generate revenue. Social enterprise has the ability to strengthen Australian communities by generating employment, income and increasing access to services. Because the sector is already in existence, social enterprise could potentially employ over 500,000 Australians and generate up to 5% of GDP in a very short period of time with the right policy and leadership from the Australian Federal government in creating the necessary ecosystem for this business model to flourish.

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.

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).

People submitting ideas
Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin Gareth Hughes David MacSmith MIchael McCann Hector Titterton Raymond Xu Alex Ghiculescu Glenn Phillips Paul Cheever David Jordan Lorraine Chiroiu tim wang Colin Kinner Timothy Holborn Saskia Kelly Elaine Stead Dave Hall Ezme Webb Mark Pesce Peter Moon John McKibbin Brett Elliott Matt Byers Jack Taylor Sal Esposito