On 7 December 2015, the Australian Federal Government released its National Innovation & Science Agenda (NISA). Through the NISA, the government will invest A$1.1 billion into a number of initiatives designed to incentivise innovation and entrepreneurship, reward risk taking in business and promote the science and technology sectors in Australia. The government proposes to implement the NISA through various reforms, including:
- Technology & Innovation Initiatives - innovation sector specific amendments, including investments in quantum computing and the implementation of a new "entrepreneur visa";
- Investment & Funding Initiatives - including the introduction of a crowd sourced funding regime;
- Tax Initiatives - tax reform, including tax incentives for early stage investors and new arrangements for venture capital limited partnerships;
- Insolvency Initiatives - insolvency reform, including reducing the period of bankruptcy and incentives to discourage directors appointing an administrator in certain circumstances; and
- Science & Environmental Initiatives - science and resource-centric initiatives, including significant investment and research funds.
The reform package set out in the NISA comes in the context the government's broader push to promote economic growth in innovative businesses in Australia. On 1 December 2015, amendments to the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act took effect, streamlining Australia's foreign investment regime, with one of the main objectives being to encourage foreign investment in Australia. For full details, see our Client Alert on the topic here.
While the NISA is designed to translate the ideas boom into significant stimulation for the Australian economy, in practice it will involve important regulatory changes as well as funding opportunities for many new and existing ventures.