5 things you need to know in Australian tech today

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Good morning, here’s what you need to know in tech today.

1. IAG is the latest big Australian company to start venture investment. Insurance Australia Group wants to modernise its platforms by establishing a fund to buy stakes in disruptive technology companies.

The new startup fund will be placed inside IAG Ventures, the innovation unit first created in 2014 by the company. IAG’s board is expected to announce how much it wants to spend on the investments as well as the funding model by April.

This follows the likes of Telstra, Optus, AMP and NAB who have all made significant investments in the local startup space in recent years.

2. Westpac has opened its doors to its technology centre. Westpac’s chief information officer Dave Curran has opened the doors to the bank’s Sydney-based technology centre, highlighting its future technology.

There’s a big focus on blockchain technology while a “concept cave” features a virtual reality room, gasification displays, drones that can deliver online purchases and wristbands that identify people via their blood flow.

“Blockchain is a technology that is clearly disruptive, but what it will be, we don’t know,” Curran told the AFR. “We do know that $970 million has been spent on blockchain by fintechs.”

3. Ford’s last Falcon has an Australian designed, Ford-first carbon air intake. The Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo Sprint, the last ever Falcon alongside its V8 brother, features a carbon-fibre air intake system – which was engineered locally — and will built by a supplier for the Joint Strike Fighter project and be a first for Ford globally.

Ford announced today that the final Falcon will be the first of its kind to use a high-strength, lightweight composite on its intake, replacing the usual moulded plastic.

Ford Australia CEO Graeme Whickman said: “The Falcon XR6 Sprint’s new innovative carbon-fibre engine air intake is the latest example of how our local engineers and suppliers will reshape the auto industry well into the future.”

4. New startup tax laws are going to make it harder for small investors. The government is proposing to limit access to a 20% tax offset for early stage startup investments for small investors, potentially locking them out of the government’s own digital revolution.

A Treasury consultation paper released yesterday said that restricting the tax incentive to investors with net assets of at least $2.5 million and annual incomes of more than $250,000 would prevent inexperienced investors getting involved with risky investments.

“Investment in innovation companies is inherently risky. Many investments will lose money, while others have the potential to make large gains,” the department said in the consultation paper.

5. Ed Husic wants to “squeeze out bad behaviour” in the Australian startup scene. In an interview with The Australian, Labor’s member for Chifley said he wants to implement a startup community code of conduct, focus on sparking an interest from US investors and look at mentoring visas.

“We’ve had some exits here but not enough … We don’t have enough local mentoring support, and that doesn’t take anything away from local mentors, but we definitely need to inject more good ideas and experience into the local system,” Mr Husic said.

Have a great day. Come and chat on Twitter.

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