Australia’s Global Innovation Strategy 

What is the initiative?

The government will invest A$36 million over a period of five years to enable international collaboration and to leverage linkages with key economies, including:

  • A$22 million in seed funding to assist Australian collaborations with international research-industry clusters;
  • A$11 million to establish ‘landing-pads’ in five key locations (including Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv) to support entrepreneurial Australians overseas; and
  • $3 million in reducing barriers to regional collaboration and promoting an open-market approach to industry research, including multilateral projects and mobility support for businesses and researchers.

Impact

The Global Innovation Strategy will help Australians leverage entrepreneurial expertise in key locations overseas and access international funding. Australia has, to date, been seen as a step behind in the innovation space driven in hubs such as Silicon Valley and London.  The strategy will mobilise Australian businesses to collaborate with existing global innovation forerunners as well as access international skills, information and markets.  At a financial level, access to international consortia will provide seed funding for collaborative projects between economies on collective challenges (such as bio-security). These support initiatives will be in high demand and businesses will need to have appropriate corporate structures set up and move quickly to submit relevant company and legal information.

The government will begin implementation of these initiatives in 2016. Funding is proposed to be available from 1 July 2016.

Establishing an industry-led Cyber Security Growth Centre

What is the initiative?

The government has recognised the importance and potential of the emerging cyber-security industry, committing A$30 million to establish an industry-led Cyber Security Growth Centre. 

The Growth Centre will be developed in consultation with industry leaders, and aims to create a national cyber security innovation network bringing together researchers, governments and industry participants.  The Growth Centre will develop a national strategy for Australia's cyber security industry, with a view to capitalising on a global market estimated to be worth US$71 billion, and growing at around 8% per year.  One of the key functions of the Growth Centre will be to attract investment from multinationals into Australia, and coordinate transnational cyber security research and innovation.

The Growth Centre will be structured as an independent company led by a board of industry leaders, following the model of previously established Industry Growth Centres, which already cover fields such as food and agribusiness, medical technologies and pharmaceuticals and oil, gas and energy resources.  We have seen governments increasingly look to utilise this industry-led approach as a means of fostering closer cooperation between government, industry and researchers, and it is widely acknowledged that government involvement and financial assistance is critical to facilitating collaboration between these key stakeholders.

Impact 

The new Growth Centre will be welcomed by both new start-ups and established businesses alike.  Effective cyber security is crucial to the success of businesses in this digital age, as investors and customers must be confident that their data is safely stored and protected.  This is particularly relevant in sectors such as finance and health, where that data might include personal information, bank account and credit card details, and other sensitive information.  Cyber security represents an especially malicious threat to smaller, emerging businesses, which have far fewer resources than larger organisations to protect against such threats.  Further, as an innovative country with a globally important resources sector, Australia is an attractive target for cyber adversaries. A strong Australian cyber security industry is crucial to ensuring that those who do business in Australia are safe and secure.

The government expects the Growth Centre to be operational by mid-2016.

Advancing quantum computing technology in Australia

What is the initiative?

Unlike normal computers, quantum computers rely on the effects of quantum physics. Qubits (quantum bits) can store a large number of information in different states at the same time. Success in this emerging sector could mean the development of a new domestic high technology industry as a launching pad for a number of innovative businesses in terms of science and research analytics.

The University of New South Wales' Centre for Quantum Computation and Communications Technology is already a world class player in silicon-based quantum computing research. The government plans to inject $26 million over five years in this Centre to support the development of silicon quantum computing technology in Australia.

Impact

These initiatives will provide opportunities to monetise the rapid evolution of technology and science that is currently occurring. While Australian consumers are quick with the uptake of technology, we are only just starting to see an emergence of Australian innovative business on the world stage. Successfully developing a quantum computing capability would mean the development of a valuable domestic high technology industry capable of exportation.

Cyber Security Growth Centre detailed above is designed with the view to further fostering quantum computing technology in Australia. Funding will commence in 2016-17.

Expanding opportunities for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics

What is the initiative?

  • The government proposes to invest over $13 million over five years to encourage more women to embark on, and remain in, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related careers through:
  • expanding the ‘Male Champions of Change’ project to focus on STEM-based and entrepreneurial industries (this project involves men of power and influence forming a coalition to achieve change on gender equality issues);
  • developing the Science in Australia Gender Equity pilot to cover more science and research institutions in Australia; and
  • partnering with the private sector on initiatives to celebrate female STEM role models and encourage interest in STEM in women from a young age.

Impact

STEM and ICT skills are crucial across a range of sectors. This initiative intends to reduce the cultural and organisational factors that discourage females from studying STEM and working in the field. This will boost diversity and generally build skills in a sector that is in demand. In the future, companies that currently outsource this work overseas may instead be able to rely on a local talent pool.

The government proposes begin implementation of each of these initiatives in 2016–17.

Supporting innovation through visas

What is the initiative? 

The government proposes to amend the immigration system to attract international skills and talent in two key ways:

  • The introduction of a temporary Entrepreneur Visa. This new visa will be established for non-resident entrepreneurs with innovative ideas and financial backing from at least one third party. The visa’s specific eligibility criteria is proposed to be applied on a case-by-case basis with regard to the level of financial backing and the growth potential of the idea.
  • Broadening of the points-tested skilled migration programme for permanent residency to award extra points for doctorate-level and masters by research qualifications in STEM and specified ICT or related fields. This is designed to attract STEM and ICT foreign skilled workers who may, under the current system, not quite meet the requirements for permanent residency. Additional points will be awarded for these applicants making their applications more likely to succeed.

Impact 

These immigration changes will work with the other NISA initiatives (including the landing-pad grants) to promote the mutual free flow of information and skills in and out of Australia. This is expected to facilitate an increase in start-up activity and, in turn, investment opportunities in Australia.

It is expected that the Entrepreneur Visa will be introduced in November 2016. The changes to the permanent residency skilled migration programme are scheduled to be implemented in December 2016.