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.
Funding, taxation, education, migration — everything is on the table.
This forum is finished. It closed about . You can still look at and comment on existing ideas!
“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 "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.”
“Borrow the last 5 years of my tax payments at the cash rate from Government to reduce my interest burden.
Banks are gouging entrepreneurs who are paying 14% to 20% interest rates on unsecured lending when the cash rate is 2%.
If small business paid a fair interest rate for loans, it would free up enough cash to increase employment by 1.5% and yet nothing is been done to stop the banks from gouging the entrepreneurs who are creating Australia's future.”
“'Supporting Undergraduate student-run startups after graduation.'
Many undergraduate students across all disciplines dream of creating their own startups. Some universities support these students by enabling them to create their own startups while at university and for course credit. These programs often work closely with the local innovation ecosystem to ensure delivery of real outcomes.
Students graduating from these programs face a difficult decision. They are typically students with knowledge and capabilities that are in high demand from well paying employers. This forces students to consider the security of such employment against the risks associated with their startup aspirations. Many students abandon their startups to take a secure job. With appropriate funding and support, we will be able to develop policy and systems to keep many of these graduates in the innovation sector by supporting their transition from University to the many existing co-working, incubator and accelerator programs operating around Australia.”
“The Australian medical research commercialisation model requires urgent change in order to be competitive with the US and Europe.
Australia needs to implement a pro active, innovative approach to commercialisation, as identified in the Australian Industry Innovation & Competiveness Agenda (the AIIC agenda) A cohesive National Strategy & Commercialisation pathway is necessary to support translation to outcomes for MRFF projects. (Consider that the MRFF will become a $20b perpetual fund invested in R&D....there is no national mechanism to translate the output into products by private sector companies capable of commercialising in the real world) Traditional commercialisation business models are set up to create short term wins, with short term strategic exits for early investors & focus on early stage seed capital without consideration of the commercialisation environment or supporting skill sets. Existing models of commercialisation and current management skill sets have been identified as areas of weakness in the AIIC agenda. In addition Australia needs to plan for improvement and funding of our national healthcare access policies. We need to provide timely access to ground breaking new treatments, without being held hostage to MNC’s strategic market access plans (reimbursement listing & commercial launch timelines) Australia needs corporate entities to play their part in generating and contributing tax revenues to help support Government initiatives. (Tier 1 Pharma utilizing 'tax minimisation strategies' can end up paying 1% tax rates based on paying tax on 'profit' not revenue and utilizing high transfer pricing techniques for 'Australian Sales Operations'. Problem: The balance between pure research investment and delivered translational commercialisation outcomes. Supporting resources and environment for commercialisation drivers to be effective. Lack of a robust Venture Capital market compared to other centers of innovation and commercialisation (US + Europe) National economic diversification…utilizing our knowledge economy to move away from a manufacturing or services economy requires seed, early stage and high risk capital as well as access to 'follow on' institutional capital....start up cash is not sufficient for growth, which companies need in order to progress to the point of becoming viable, sustainable and stable. We need to create employment opportunities for our future skilled workforce (STEM initiatives)... if we focus on STEM educational activities without creating direct work experience and work placement opportunities the system will fail. Industry needs government help and support to place STEM graduates in the workforce. We need to secure alternative financial support for future healthcare services access (beyond tax increases, GST or Medicare levy) Solution: Create a national commercialisation action strategy , supporting research investment commercialisation outcomes Deliver outcomes through a commercialisation centre of excellence (including a Medical Research Commercialisation CRC, linked to an industry growth centre, linked to private sector capital with access to and participation of ministerial portfolios, Government bodies and policy advisors and decision makers including the PBAC ) Take innovative University & Research institute R&D output through to phase 2 exit or market launch and utilize a hybrid funding model of private sector investment linked to Government participation (not economic participation) to provide investor confidence. Fund drug development through accessing superannuation investment capital, expedited visas for foreign high net worth's, off shore private equity, high net worth investment, ASX & off shore IPO, linkage to foreign commercialisation funds. All of which can be bolstered in terms of providing a measure of investor confidence by working with Government input. Develop Australia’s Life Sciences Biotech community into fully scalable operational pharma companies with registration, marketing and global sales capability (as per the US pharmaceutical landscape model).. this will require close collaboration between industry and government to create supporting policy. Create taxable revenue streams which can be funnelled back into the healthcare system Develop a new approach to an Australian Health Ecosystem linking Government policy and academic thinking with commercialisation planning from inception, aligning the start and finish of the drug development value chain leading to: ‘Purposeful, Focussed, Strategic Commercialisation’ Policy suggestions: Boosting an early stage Venture Capital Market: 1. Australia has to get involved in accessing the early stage venture capital being invested by Asia in commercialising mainly US and European IP. An example of this is the recent establishment of the first Chinese FOF...a $5b USD investment in commercialising Life Sciences IP. We should send a clear message to investors (both private and institutional) that not only do we have incredible products and IP but that Australian investment funds and vehicles are attractive, lucrative, enjoy very favourable tax concessions and are capable of delivering significant high value returns. We could change the threshold rules for qualifying ESVCLP and VCLP's so that the $250m and $100m limits are removed. These numbers are too small for Asian investment appetites as most funds end up being $500m+. This will encourage a larger number of higher value funds to be created, accessing offshore capital subscription, providing there is flow through tax treatment and complete tax exemptions for investors on their share of a funds income, this should be applied to both foreign and domestic investors. 2. Help support the creation of new early stage funds by providing either grants or 'unsecured loans' to help cover the costs of a funds establishment. The cost of capital acquisition is a key area the government could assist with. This is especially relevant for off shore subscription. The loan could be repayable in Y2 of a funds life cycle and be factored into the management fees. 3. Government led investor relations missions...helping funds seeking foreign investment by legitimizing the engagement with foreign institutional capital sources. (i.e.; Country specific economic development banks) Helping to create investor confidence and create the right environment to support capital subscription by putting some Australian institutional money in the game but also 'rubber stamping' the investment exercise. Invest in STEM placements in the workforce: Investing in businesses employing STEM graduates...create a placement incentive (tax concessions, cash ) to enable employers to place STEM graduates, offer actual full time employment, pay realistic wages whilst gaining work experience and potentially even finishing a degree. Significant Visa Programs: Create a specific medical research commercialisation Investor Visa Program. A rapid, permanent Visa for an investment of $10m for 7 years in a specific FOF that only invests in commercialising Australian medical IP. The key here is that no one is talking about the value of the Human Capital...the experiences and skill sets of this entrepreneurial community are invaluable. By drawing on migrants who have successfully exited businesses in the healthcare space we add to our connectivity between Asia and Australia. By creating a national commercialisation strategy & ecosystem that links the research sector, Government and Industry investors would have confidence in the commercialisation process and plan, especially with Government involvement, and therefore would be far more likely to invest in the scheme knowing where their money will be spent and who will be managing the companies where cash is invested. Big healthcare data sets: Currently there is a disconnect between Australian healthcare data acquisition and management and the ability to work with DE identified data for cost effectiveness evaluation purposes. Principally Medicare, the PBS and individual state hospital drug utilization and reimbursement data is not linked. If policy enabled a private sector business to work with Government to link these data assets it would enable huge government healthcare cost savings by enabling evidence based cost effectiveness studies for reimbursed treatments and drugs (especially over long periods of treatment where clinical effectiveness is not monitored or linked to continued drug reimbursement) Healthcare policy could also be adapted to enable private sector companies (Biotech's/Med Device/Diagnostics) to work closely with alignment to healthcare agencies (PBS) which would in turn enable the research / university community to focus research programs (and subsequently spinout drug development private sector programs) on high priority areas of unmet clinical but also economic need. By engaging with the PBS early on in the drug development lifecycle, especially in clinical trial design there would be the potential to run a fast track approval process for products meeting clinical endpoints and showing clear cost effectiveness and clinical benefits. This will save the Australian healthcare system money in the long run and ensure we provide timely access to innovative new treatments, improving the standard of care for all Australians. 5. ”
A multi-day pitchfest for Australian start-ups to pitch ideas and investment opportunities to USA venture capital funds, investors, and large USA tech companies. Fast-track way for great ideas to get great funding and access to massive markets. Attendees would include: USA Venture Capital Fund General Partners, Entrepreneur-in-residence, USA Private Equity / Hedge Fund investors, USA Tech Company Executives. Pitchers: Startups - SME tech companies seeking investments, Pre-seed/Seed investments, Larger Australian tech companies Location: - Cairns/Port Douglas, North Queensland (beach/island resorts) and/or major city Agenda (Day 1) – “Invest in Australia” - Official Opening by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull - Morning Session: “Why Invest in Australia?” - “Why You Should Invest in Australian Startups” (by Treasurer/Minister for Finance) o High-growth opportunities o Large talent pool & untapped market o Modern economy & legal system similar to USA/UK, long history o High Tech levels in Australia o Local Market Opportunities o Tax incentives for foreign investors o Business-friendly government o Educated pool of tech-savvy staff o Export-familiar, multi-cultural mindset o Proximity to Asian growth regions (China, India) o Low expenses level (esp. with low Australian dollar) - “Incentives for Investment in Australia” o Government Grants Programs o VCLP/ESVCLP o R&D Tax incentives o Capital gains tax incentives o Small business tax incentives o Export tax incentives o Film production incentives - “The Same and a Little Different: Subtle Differences Between Australian and USA Investments” o Same companies, minor differences • Company legal structure & operation generally the same • Absence of LLC structure (flow-through tax entity) o Accounting standards, legal contracts fundamentally similar o Culture: Same language, different accent o Cricket is better than Baseball (many happy hours of discussion right there) Day 2: “Listening to the USA”: - Overviews by Invited Major USA Venture Capital & PE Funds & Experts/Visionaries: o What are they looking to invest in? o What sectors are hot? (Cloud, Mobile, Social, Local, e-Health, etc.) o Mary Meeker? o Marc Andreeson (a18z)? - Short Overviews by Invited Major USA Tech Companies: o What are they looking for? o What are they doing that’s hot? What’s coming in the future? o Google o Apple o Microsoft o HP o Facebook o Amazon o Yahoo! o LinkedIn o Adobe o Citrix o SAP o Salesforce o WebMD AFTERNOON: Cairns Zoo (crocodiles/emus/kangaroos/koalas) Agenda (Day 3): “Pitching to the USA” Morning: “Pitching #1: Series A/Series B” - Pitches by Australian Startups with existing products (post-seed stage) - Pitches by Streams/Themes: o Social Media o Mobile o Internet o E-Health o Cloud - Afternoon: o Rainforest experience (SkyRail / Tablelands) Agenda (Day 4): “Pitching to the USA (continued)” Morning: “Pitching #2: Pre-Seed/Seed” - Pitches by Australian Early-Stage Startups with only an idea, or only just incorporated (pre-seed/seed) - Pitches by Streams/Themes (as above) Agenda (Day 5): All Day: Great Barrier Reef day trip excursion Notes: - Separate “matching” for presentations by larger Australian tech companies seeking investments? (e.g. those seeking P/E, mezzanine, etc.) - Pitches might be public vs private at the pitcher’s option? - Side workshops to assist Startups with processes of preparing for, pitching, closing investment, etc. ”
“Australia needs an industry policy to use innovation system funding to leverage much greater expenditure from bigger budgets, such as procurement, infrastructure, and health on innovation activities on a systemic basis. A small percentage (eg 1%) of all spend in these large sectors should be dedicated to innovation, and used to trial new ideas developed by a mini supply-chain that includes companies, researchers, and a customer in the sector. This model is used in other countries in a systematic way to test innovative ideas and build pre-competitive capabilities, in schemes such as SBIR, DARPA, NIH, etc.
A well-managed program along these lines could drive engagement between industry and research, ensure customer focus for new innovation products and services, and be applied across all sectors, providing a central underpinning for Australia’s industry policy.
“I have 3 ideas to contribute, two from personal experience as an ‘Innovation and Technology Counsellor’ and one of my own. They relate to 'Innovation Support', 'Seed funding' and 'Youth Education'
In the late 1990s Scottish Enterprise created a small organisation funded through the Department of Trade and industry. It was a team of 7 individuals to cover the whole of Scotland, ‘Innovation and Technology Counsellors’ (ITCs) each of different expertise and called the ‘Expert Help’ team. They were a ‘One-Stop-Shop’ charged with aiding individuals and SME’s (small to medium sized enterprises) in the formation and development of ideas/products and were given the following facilities:
1. Ears - to listen to the problem - without any cost. 2. Time - without any cost - following initial contact the most appropriate ITC could spend a day or two to assess the problem, perhaps solve it. If it was more involved there were additional facilities of: 3. A data-base of ‘Experts’ and organisations with expert facilities. 4. Small Government Grants to pay 100% of a few days of the chosen Expert’s time and report, hopefully to solve the problem but at least to fully identify it and formulate a course of action. 5. Additional Grants of 50% for additional expert time or additional studies with the aim of solving the problem quickly. The concept was excellent and there is no doubt it was effective. Organisational problems restricted its activities or it would have been much more effective. ”
“A government backed co-investment fund like the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund and the Scottish Co-Investment Fund. This involves partnering with accredited Angel Groups and VCs to co-invest into deals that meet the requirements of either their Seed of VC funds. NZVIF has recently reported that $1 of public investment leverages $9 of private capital.”