Vic govt forms innovation taskforce


Denham Sadler
Senior Reporter

The Victorian government has created a taskforce to guide the development of a new innovation agenda, with LaunchVic’s future to be revealed in the upcoming state budget.

State Innovation Minister Martin Pakula unveiled the innovation taskforce late last week, with members from startups, universities and investor groups.

The group would “work to support the roll-out of the Labor government’s new innovation agenda”, Mr Pakula said.

“This taskforce of industry leaders will strengthen our innovation ecosystem, provide guidance on how to create new and better jobs, strengthen our economy and build strong international connections,” Mr Pakula said.

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“Victoria is the home of innovation in Australia with a thriving startup ecosystem, established business precincts and globally recognised capability in sectors ranging from MedTech to pharma to advanced manufacturing and sport.”

The 13-person taskforce includes Startup Victoria chief executive Judy Anderson, Giant Leap Fund investment manager Rachel Yang, Culture Amp founder Didier Elzinga and BioMelbourne Network chair Lusia Guthrie.

LaunchVic, which was created by the Victorian government to deploy the state’s $60 million innovation fund in 2016, is understood to have been closely involved with the creation of the taskforce, and will work with the taskforce in the future.

The state government is yet to outline what this new “innovation agenda” is, with most of the government’s efforts in the space coming through LaunchVic in recent years.

“The creation of the innovation taskforce demonstrates our commitment to supporting local talent and businesses and promoting Victorian innovation to the world,” Mr Pakula told InnovationAus.

The taskforce will meet three times this year to “provide guidance on opportunities to develop the jobs of the future and strengthen our economy”.

In last year’s budget, LaunchVic was provided a further $10 million for this financial year, with no guarantee of ongoing funding.

Over its first four years, LaunchVic had focused on providing grants across 10 funding rounds to the infrastructure of the state’s startup ecosystem, rather than directly funding startups, as several other state governments have done.

After completing a review last year, the agency announced a new direction, with LaunchVic to take a more active role in the actual delivery of innovation-focused services and on the angel investing sector.

It will see LaunchVic shifting its focus away from startups and towards later-state scale-ups, with five key areas of focus: the investor community, growing startups to scale-ups, increasing the number of startups created, researching the ecosystem and promoting, connecting and advocating.

LaunchVic has been in ongoing discussions with the state government over its funding, with a final decision to be made in the coming months during the budgetary process.

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