The Liberal Party announced the launch of the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) in early December 2015, promising to invest more than $1 billion into promoting innovation. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the NISA aimed to promote innovation by driving “smart ideas that create business growth, local jobs and global success”.
The NISA includes 24 measures, aimed at growing private sector investment, research commercialisation and increasing the flow of venture capital into potential start-ups. Dubbed by the Turnbull Government “the ideas boom” the NISA is aimed at creating jobs, economic growth, and promoting innovation in small and medium businesses.
Most of its policies involve incentives for business owners and entrepreneurs. Mr Turnbull said the Government wants to “reward innovation, entrepreneurship and risk-taking” by making significant change to tax tosses and insolvency laws.
It aims to drive business research by supporting greater collaboration between research organisations and universities, and businesses to commercialise ideas and solve problems. This means that organisations such as the CSIRO will be rewarded for coming up with ideas that can be commercialised and sold for a profit.
Tax breaks for investors - incentives for investors in start-ups including a 20 per cent tax offset based on the investment amount, capped at a $200,000 per investor, per year.
The Research Support programme will provide $885 million to Australian universities to support the costs of research.
Insolvency laws relaxed – to help business that are in or facing bankruptcy and failed business start-ups.
Investing $13 million over five years to encourage more women to choose and stay in STEM research, related careers, start-ups and entrepreneurial firms.
Create a national cyber security innovation network to coordinate cyber security research and innovation to reduce overlap and maximise impact.
Commercialisation of research - a more than $200 million CSIRO Innovation Fund supports the early stage commercialisation of innovations from CSIRO, universities and other publicly funded research bodies.
$51 million package over five years to help Australians prepare for jobs of the future –includes upskilling teachers and ICT programs from Years 4 to 12.
Introduction of the “entrepreneur’s visa” offered to potential entrepreneurs with “innovative ideas and financial backing” and offering permanent residence for postgraduate researchers with STEM qualifications.
In the 2013 election, manufacturing innovation was a part of then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s plan for a “five pillar economy”, as well as part of the promise to create one million jobs over the next five years. Mr Turnbull’s speech at the launch of the NISA didn’t address manufacturing innovation and the focus is clearly on other types of innovation following the downfall of manufacturing in Australia. The Liberal Party is focusing on business ideas and technology.
In the 2016-17 budget the NISA was budgeted to cost $1.1 billion over four years – an increase in government spending and focus on the issue.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten supported NISA but accused the Turnbull government of “recycling” Labor’s ideas, outlined in its announcement for innovation policies in September of 2015.
Greens Innovation spokesperson Senator Nick McKim said the Greens supported the focus on innovation, but it did not compensate for the cuts in science, higher education and research, earlier in the year. The Greens criticised the lack of funds for clean energy innovation.
Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce supported the inclusion of regional issues such as food and biosecurity. He said the Incubator Support Programme will ensure regions across Australia are included in the “ideas boom”.
Labor has indicated it will have a bigger focus on Australian start-ups in science, technology, engineering and maths. It believes the tech start-up sector has the potential to contribute hundreds of thousands of new jobs across the next two decades. New types of visas are planned for entrepreneurs who will invest into Australia’s start-ups. Labor recognises that it is difficult for Australian start-ups and early-stage enterprises to gain venture capital and aims to break down the barriers holding them back.
Labor plans to have a greater focus on teaching STEM (science technology engineering and maths) and ICT (information and communications technology) in Australian schools to meet predicted future demand.
It will continue its previously planned Fibre-to-the-Premises National Broadband Network instead of the slower network it was scrapped for. It also has a strong stance on renewable energy, believing Australia should lead the world as a supplier of clean electricity.
Accelerate innovation in our regions through Regional Innovation Hubs.
Reform the innovation architecture through Innovate Australia.
Back a scheme to help Australian innovators to enter the US market.
Back high potential companies through a $500 million investment loan scheme.
Improving access to capital for start-ups and businesses through a partial investment loan scheme.
50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
The Australian Labor Party is promising to deliver innovative policies to help create new jobs for the future. It plans to increase spending on innovation, and says the Turnbull-Abbott Coalition Government budgets have had dramatic effects on Australia’s innovation sector, cutting billions of dollars from the innovation, science and research sectors.
Its third wave of innovation involves policy initiatives to build on Labor’s pre-existing announcements which include improving science, technology, engineering and maths skills.
Labor plans to increase investments to help build and support great Australian ideas and local start-ups, which have the potential to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the next 20 years. It is focusing on increasing university STEM graduates by around 20,000 each year through the Student Funding Guarantee scheme and believes universities are where great Australian start-ups, businesses and enterprises are created. It will be encouraging students to take up a STEM teaching degrees.
Labor plans to fund the establishment of up to 20 new, university-based programs over three years, and would aim to create jobs and increase quality of life in regional areas.
The proposed Landing Pad program would create a home base in San Francisco to help businesses and individuals enter the US market by opening avenues for venture capital and business connections.
The Greens believe Australian innovation relies on a commitment to greater funding in areas that encourage improvement and change. While the party supports the Turnbull Government’s focus on innovation, it says more should be invested in research and development.
Greens Industry and Science Spokesperson Adam Bandt said the Liberal Government’s statement was not innovative enough. He also set a target of 3 per cent of Australia’s GDP for research and development funding, saying the current state is at its lowest point ever.
Greens Innovation Spokesperson, Senator Nick McKim, said: “The focus on innovation… does not come close (to) make up for cuts to science, higher education and research and development.”
The Greens believe innovations in science and technology are essential to address climate change. Also, “significant public investment” in science and technology education is integral to creating a more innovative nation.
3 per cent of GDP allocated to research and funding.
Greater public investment in science and technology education.
Policy and support which fosters greater commercialisation of Australian innovations.
Cooperation between science research, education, innovation and business.
To ensure that research and innovation improves to 3 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2020, the Greens have previously pushed for a boost in funding for research councils and a move funding from a triennial deal to a five year one. They wanted to reverse the funding cuts made by the previous Labor Government in 2013. These remain important objectives for them, having not been achieved under the Coalition Government.
The Greens believe the CSIRO is integral to environmental research and has historically been a hub of Australian innovation. With more funding to the CSIRO, The Greens believe that Australia would become more of a leader in changing the environment.
The commitment to allocate 3 per cent of GDP for research and development target was among the Greens 2013 election policies, which also included reversing cuts to scientific research councils and programs and attracting overseas “research talents” to Australia. These remain priorities and The Greens’ science and technology statement says, “Innovations in science and technology are essential if we are to meet the challenges of addressing climate change and the transition to a sustainable society.” With more funding in the research and development sector, The Greens believe Australia will “move away from the industries of the past” and create more jobs.
The Greens also want to facilitate cooperation between public research organisations, such as the CSIRO, universities and medical research institutes to promote innovation. They plan to have greater public funding for technology and science education in Australian schools to ensure the country is well-equipped to be innovative and keep up with future challenges.