Policy Snapshot: All new measures

James Riley
Editorial Director

With the much anticipated announcement of the Innovation Statement in Canberra on Monday, it’s clear Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wants to drive Australia into unprecedented innovation territory, now popularly known as the ‘#IdeasBoom’.

As Australia enters its 25th year of continuous economic growth, Mr Turnbull argues that unlike the mining boom, “the most important assets we have in this country are not to be found under the ground, but walking around on top of it”.

#IdeasBoom: Malcolm Turnbull’s excellent innovation adventure

Mr Turnbull believes that innovation and science are critical for Australia’s prosperity, and that the fostering of ideas and entrepreneurship will deliver new sources of growth.

So InnovationAus.com has collected all of the new measures contained in Mr Turnbull’s sweeping Innovation Statement. Everything in one place.

With the aim of incentivising and rewarding innovation, entrepreneurship, and risk-taking, the National Innovation and Science Agenda focuses on four conceptual pillars:

1. Culture and capital
2. Collaboration
3. Talent and skills
4. Government as an exemplar

The measures proposed under these pillars are worth $1.1 billion over four years, and provides the framework for Australian innovation policy.

Below is a snapshot of the new measures that are believed to put Australia back on track to becoming a leading innovator.

Culture and Capital

Aligning Australia’s tax system and business laws with a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation by:

  • Offering New tax breaks for early stage investors in innovative start-ups, with investors receiving a 20 per cent non-refundable tax offset, as well as a capital gains tax exemption
  • Introducing a non-refundable tax offset for capital invested in new Early Stage Venture Capital Limited Partnerships (ESVCLPs), and increase the cap on committed capital from $100 million to $200 million for new ESVCLPs
  • Developing a more flexible predominately similar business test that will allow a startup to bring in an equity partner and secure new business opportunities without worrying about tax penalties
  • Removing rules that limit depreciation deductions for some intangible assets (like patents) to a statutory life and instead allow them to be depreciated over their economic life as occurs for other assets

Backing high potential ideas with capital to help ensure they stay and grow in Australia by:

  • Establishing a $200 million CSIRO Innovation Fund to assist with co-investment in new spin-off companies and existing startups, that will develop technology from CSIRO and other publicly funded research agencies and universities
  • Establishing a new Biomedical Translation Fund to co-invest $250 million with the private sector to increase the capital available for commercialising medical research within Australia and help leverage Australia’s strengths in this area, to drive future growth
  • Backing small businesses and startups to help them establish and grow
  • Investing $8 million in an Incubator Support Programme, which will play a crucial role in the innovation ecosystem, to ensure startups have access to the resources, knowledge and networks necessary to transform their ideas
  • Making existing employee share scheme (ESS) rules more user friendly to make it easier for promising businesses to hire and retain top staff. The new rules will allow companies to offer shares to their employees without having to reveal commercially sensitive information to their competitors


Building world-class national research infrastructure by:

  • Providing long-term funding certainty for cutting-edge national research infrastructure to ensure research jobs stay in Australia and remain at the forefront of global discoveries
  • Providing $520 million for the Australian Synchrotron, $294 million for the Square Kilometre Array, and $1.5 billion for the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) over the next decade
  • In 2016, Australia’s Chief Scientist will undertake a process to identify national research infrastructure capability needs to inform where funding is required in future years

Greater collaboration between universities and businesses by:

  • Introducing new provisions to encourage collaboration between researchers and industry by streamlining a greater proportion of research block grant funding toward collaboration, and providing an additional $127 million over the forward estimates to research block grant funding
  • Implementing clear and transparent measures of non-academic impact and industry engagement when assessing the success of university research performance, such as its economic, social, and environmental impacts
  • Connecting more small and medium businesses with researchers by expanding and relaunching the successful Research Connections programme as Innovation Connections, opening up Australian Research Council Linkage Projects Scheme to continuous applications to fast track decisions on collaborative research grants, and opening a new application round for the Cooperative Research Centre programme in February 2016

Linking to the world:

  • Increasing linkages with key economies to enable Australia to improve research, commercialisation and business performance, and access international supply chains and the global market. This will include providing access for entrepreneurial Australians to landing pads in Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv and three other locations, and leveraging the expertise of the Australian diaspora in key markets. Also provide funding for Australian collaborations with international research-industry clusters, such as Leading-Edge Clusters and Fraunhofer Institutes in Germany

Investing in the future of information technology by:

  • Establishing a new Cyber Security Growth Centre in order to create opportunities for Australian businesses in this critical new sector
  • Boosting Australia’s world class capability in quantum computing research, by investing $26 million towards building a silicon quantum circuit, with the potential to create new jobs and business models, and develop a valuable new industry

Talent and Skills

Equipping young Australians to create and use digital technologies. Investing $51 million to help:

  • Year 5s and 7s learn coding through online computing challenges
  • Support and upskill teachers to implement the digital technologies curriculum
  • Target ICT and STEM programmes like STEM partnerships to bring scientists and ICT professionals into classrooms

Expanding opportunities for women in STEM by:

  • Investing over $13 million to support the greater participation of girls and women in the research sector, STEM industries, startups and entrepreneurial firms
  • Celebrating female STEM role models and building programmes and networks that support workplace gender equality – such as the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) pilot – to realise Australia’s full potential through greater contribution from women

Inspiring STEM literacy by:

  • Investing $48 million to inspire STEM literacy through early childhood education, schools, and the wider community
  • Encouraging school students to participate and achieve in science and maths
  • Engaging pre-schoolers with inquiry and play-based learning apps focussed on STEM concepts
  • Supporting science within our communities, with events such as National Science Week

Bring entrepreneurs and other innovative talent to Australia by:

  • Introducing a new Entrepreneurs Visa for up and coming entrepreneurial talent
  • Actively seeking and encouraging talented individuals to come to Australia
  • Using existing Government overseas networks to enhance pathways to permanent residency for high quality STEM and ICT post-graduate students

Government as an exemplar

Placing innovation and science at the heart of policy making by:

  • Creating a single body responsible for researching, planning and advising government on the long term strategic vision for innovation and science
  • Establishing Innovation and Science Australia, a new independent statutory board that will place innovation and science at the centre of policymaking to build a stronger, more entrepreneurial economy
  • Reviewing the current R&D Tax Incentive to improve its effectiveness and integrity

Encouraging innovation through government procurement:

  • Leveraging technology to improve services through the Digital Transformation Office, making government more accessible to startups and innovative small and medium businesses, by breaking down barriers to technology procurement. These businesses will find it easier to compete for the $5 billion that the Government spends each year on ICT through a new Digital Marketplace, to be built by the Digital Transformation Office
  • Piloting a new approach to government procurement through the Business Research and Innovation Initiative, by challenging small to medium enterprises to deliver innovative solutions for government, rather than tendering for an existing product

Government joining the data revolution by:

  • Removing existing barriers between different data holdings across government to promote innovation and make non-sensitive data openly available through data.gov.au, so that the private sector can use and reuse this data to help create new and innovative products and business models
  • Ensuring that Australia builds and maintains world-leading data science research capability through investing $75 million in Data61 to capitalise on the data revolution. Data61 will work with universities to expand its PhD programme where students work directly with industry to solve problems. With cutting edge research in data analytics and cyber security, Data61 can help develop new technology-based industries and transform existing ones

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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