Startups and entrepreneurs had a big year in 2015.
Last year, Turnbull released his $1 billion innovation package which saw a new $15 million digital marketplace to connect small businesses with the government as well as a $30 million centre to develop Australia’s cyber security industry among its list of changes.
Turnbull’s vision for people to prepare for the “ideas boom” which would “incentivise, energise, dynamise” the Australian industry was met with diverging responses from those who welcomed equity crowdfunding for retail investors and on universities working with startups while others saw a need to focus more on renewable energy development and getting super funds to invest into venture and innovation.
We reached out to 16 Australian executives to see what they wanted to see from the Turnbull government this year.
Their answers ranged from simplifying the auditing processes for businesses, greater care and assistance for businesses to operate without harming the environment through to changing the basis for the PR and sponsorship visa classes for the tech industry.
Here’s a closer look at what they had to say.
Simon Cohen, Managing Director and Co-founder, Cohen Handler
In 2016, we’d like to see a reduction in stamp duty for first home buyers. While we won’t see the property price increases we’ve seen recently in cities like Sydney and Melbourne, the market will remain highly competitive. Along with high levels of competition, it’s especially difficult for first home buyers to get their foot on the ladder when there are significant stamp duty costs on top of the sale price, required to be paid within 30 days of a settlement.
If Turnbull could reduce stamp duty, buying property would be a lot more achievable for many buyers.
Shira Raber, Managing Director, Helping
The start-up ecosystem is definitely growing in Sydney and Melbourne but the growth rate is slower than other Western cities like Berlin, Tel Aviv and New York. As a former tech entrepreneur, Turnbull urged Australians in his first statement after being elected, to embrace disruption, mostly driven by technology. I really hope that with Malcolm Turnbull as the new Prime Minister, the government will further facilitate the increase of tech start ups through direct and indirect investments (tax incentives).
Philip Weinman, CEO and Executive Chairman, Locomote
I would like to see greater investment in technology and startups, not only with tax incentives but at an earlier stage. I’d like to see a focus from the government on educational programs that encourage students to start their own businesses, and more opportunities for seed funding.
We need to encourage innovation in Australia. Our cities need to be smarter and more liveable in order to motivate every Australian to look for smarter ways to do things.
Most importantly, I’d like to see our government learning from the mistakes made by previous governments and taking steps to automate and control its corporate travel management and expenses.
Dr Andrew Lin, Co-founder and CEO, CliniCloud
For 2016, I’d like to see the government take a more innovative approach to healthcare. In the past decade, we’ve seen rising healthcare costs mainly from expensive hospital based care. I believe much of these costs can be alleviated through better Healthcare IT and in particular, consumer facing digital health systems which can take a lot of burden off the hospital centred healthcare model.
For example, more funding and reimbursements for out of hospital type medical assessments and treatments, such as telemedicine or smartphone-enabled medical devices, could help improve accessibility and delivery of care, as well as reduce overall healthcare spend.
David Vitek, CEO, hipages
Australia is currently suffering a severe skills shortage of STEM-related employees. I’d love to see stronger support, infrastructure and mentoring to encourage a higher number of students to enter STEM degrees at university, because these skilled workers are vital for Australia to remain a prosperous country.
Other important changes include more transparent and favourable legislation for employee share schemes, as well as government backing for the creation of technology hubs.
Alec Lynch, Founder and CEO of DesignCrowd
I think the federal government could do more to support Australia’s startup boom.
For example, the government could help foster investment into startups directly or venture capital funds with tax breaks or other incentives and schemes. Finding a way to get more superannuation money into tech and venture would be game changing.
The government could also consider expanding grants like the Export Market Development Grant (which could be expanded in general or specifically for startups trying to grow globally).
Gen George, Founder, OneShift
For years we have been in the mining boom. Now it is time for the ideas boom. With the rapid decline in jobs and the impact this can have on our economic growth in the foreseeable future, it is critical the government makes drastic innovation policy changes to create a strong foundation for the future and to be pushing for this new boom to create new jobs which will reduce unemployment and increase productivity across the nation.
In 2016, I am looking forward to see how Malcolm further shapes policy around doing Super smarter. Minimising the amount of accounts people, with multiple admin fees and more funds investing into the startup community.
Matt Bullock, Founder & CEO, eWAY
We would really like to see the ATO working closely with SMBs and SMEs to make the tax and auditing processes less daunting for businesses. There needs to be a more streamlined tax compliance and business registration process.
In addition to that, we’ve already seen some in-roads made this year with new policies around R&D tax incentives and so thisyear we’re really hoping the government can show us they’re serious about investing and supporting Aussie entrepreneurship. Making seed funding and access to venture capital easier should be right up there on the government’s agenda if we’re going to seriously position Australia on the world map as an innovation hub.
Dan Nolan, Co-founder and Engineering Lead, Proxima
There have been a lot of conversations around startups and innovation, but unfortunately many small businesses are being ignored or excluded in the current political climate.
Small businesses of all kinds are vital to Aussie innovation. It would be great to see the government reduce regulation and red tape on small businesses, incentivise larger corporations to work with these businesses on projects and encourage Australians to support, invest in and help the country’s small businesses grow. After all, small businesses help make the country vibrant and prosperous.
Christian Mischler, Co-founder and CMO, HotelQuickly
Make Australia more attractive for global startup entrepreneurs. The market is small in size, but offers a lot of potential. There is highly educated talent available, and Australia can serve as a springboard to both the US and Asia. If Australia can position itself in between these two big markets, it can create a unique position that is hard to challenge. Though this requires a new entrepreneur’s visa, tax benefits, and other government support in order to become more competitive with Singapore, Hong Kong, or Dubai.
Kate Morris, CEO, Adore Beauty
I think he’s doing a pretty good job so far, but I do want him to do something about children in detention. It’s barbaric and un-Australian. I refuse to believe that locking up little kids is in any way necessary to keep Australia safe.
Nick Austin, Founder and CEO, Divvy Parking
Malcolm Turnbull has already stated he wants to be the Infrastructure Prime Minister. It’s exciting to see initiatives such as the inquiry into the role of Smart ICT in the design and planning of infrastructure and I’d love to see some real attention given to the findings. If Australian cities are to compete with the “smart cities” of the world, across Europe, Asia and the US, we need to encourage greater collaboration in this space between the private and public sector; if we don’t, our cities won’t be ready to make the most of the incredible technology and innovations coming our way in the near future, and we’ll fall behind. Think driverless cars.
We’re seeing pockets of innovation in this space from both startups and major companies, but they’re still coming up against a lot of red-tape. We need to work together to develop and then implement smart solutions for a more connected, more liveable city. With an innovation and infrastructure minded Prime Minister at the helm, hopefully 2016 is the year this really takes off.
Pana Chocolate, Founder and CEO, Pana Barbounis
Firstly, environmental care and assistance in finding the right passage for businesses to operate without harming the environment.
Secondly, health. I’d like to see Malcolm and his government get serious about our health and known disease-causing products. And not only from a tax perspective -– ban these products, such as cigarettes and refined sugars.
Gary Tramer, Co-founder, LeadChat
I want him to go to an election and become PM without any question of who put him in charge. I have faith that good policy will follow, rather than being restrained by conservative power brokers in the party.
I’d like to see a policy on government disruption. Put it all on the table for hacking.
For too long, politicians have trained the public with one-liners to think surplus is good and Deficit is bad. Australia is not a business, its a sovereign state. Government investment does not need profitability projections, it needs to play the long-game. Telstra, AusPost, Australia Council for the Arts, none of these were started with profitability in mind, they were or are federally funded initiatives that play the long game of pushing Australia forward.
The NBN degradation has been a great example of poor thinking on national interests. I’d like to start seeing the conversation come out that deficit means government investment into the future and that surplus means a slow-down in growth and development.
Finally, changes to the PR and sponsorship visa classes for the tech industry. Currently it’s based on qualification and years experience. Is it possible to have a degree in Growth Hacking? Has that even existed for more than a couple years?