Industry and Innovation Minister Michaelia Cash says the federal government’s role in Australia’s startup ecosystem is as an “enabler” and it’s the industry’s responsibility to drive it.
In both of her address at the Australian Financial Review Innovation Summit, and the launch of the Google of Entrepreneurs and SheStarts partnership launch on Monday morning, Senator Cash cited how government grant programs like the Incubator Support Initiative had enabled industry to develop initiatives such as SheStarts, which received half a million dollars in grant funding last year.
“I’m a big believer that government is an enabler and once we have enabled, it’s up to industry to walk in and go in from there,” Senator Cash said.
“We should enable the private sector to do what it does best. Because at the end of the day, you know what is best for you. The last thing you want is government telling you what is best for you.”
Senator Cash also spoke of the economic benefits that women could deliver if there were more female-led startups, particularly in the areas of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
“The research is there – [women] perform better over time. Latest research by the Boston Consulting Group found women generate 10 per cent more in cumulative revenue over a five-year period – $730,000 compared $663,000,” she said.
“For every dollar of funding these startups – those started or co-founded by women – generate 78 cents, while male-generated startups generate less than half, that is, around 31 cents.”.
Senator Cash said government still plans to appoint a Women in Science Ambassador by the end of the year. The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the creation of the role on International Women’s Day in March.
It is unclear, however, whether the person appointed to the ambassador role will work with the women’s advisory panel that is chaired by Senator Cash.
The panel convened for the first time in March, more than a year after the initiative was announced, to discuss current and potential department policies and how they impact women in the sector. Since then, there has been no further updates on the progress of its agenda.
The Australian tech ecosystem is also still waiting on the federal government’s delivery of a Digital Economy Strategy, which had been due earlier this year.