Telstra boss David Thodey has a simple explanation for why Australia’s startups should be supported by both business and government.
According to the Australian Financial Review Thodey said Australia will lose some incredible talent and miss out on innovative ideas if startups aren’t given a leg-up.
Thodey said innovation has the potential to double Australia’s GDP and boost the country’s growth.
“Innovation isn’t only for Silicon Valley or Israel,” Thodey said. “It’s about a state of mind and a way of looking at things – continually working to reinvent and change.”
He said big companies, including Telstra, also need to be involved, adding government incentives targeted at fostering and keeping Australian talent is also needed.
“They have to be a part of the ecosystem,” he said.
“The two key parts of our growth strategy are Asia and software technology on a global basis.”
Pointing to Singapore, Thodey said it’s a region which offers startups a bunch of incentives including cash grants, equity funding and debt financing, policies which he said would lure Australian talent and should be implemented here.
“Singapore may be a great source of funding for start-ups here in Australia – I don’t like that,” he said.
One of the big themes often discussed in Australia’s startup community is what governments and companies should be doing to support small innovative companies that have the potential to scale globally and stop losing talent to Silicon Valley and elsewhere.
Recently, Freelancer CEO Matt Barrie outlined a huge list of ways the industry can be supported by government, saying Australia is at risk of completely missing the boat when it comes to tech innovation and startups. There’s more on that here.
But there’s not a great deal of focus on the reasons why big business and government should do it. In the 2014 Federal Budget there was a half-baked agency established to support startups after the sector lost a number of government funded programs.
The Entrepreneur’s Infrastructure Programme will be allocated $484.2 million over five years starting from July 1 but how it will work remains unclear.
The focus of the programme is to support “the commercialisation of good ideas, job creation and lifting the capability of small business, the provision of market and industry information, and the facilitation of access to business management advice and skills from experienced private sector providers and researchers”.
There’s more here.