Labor’s policy proposal to support the establishment and growth of potentially 2000 new start-ups via loans of up to $11,300 per entrepreneur will help foster innovation and boost economic growth in key areas, said Group of Eight (Go8) Chief Executive Vicki Thomson.
The Go8, representing Australia’s leading research-intensive universities and undertaking almost 70% of Australian university research plays an essential role in generating start-ups.
‘In 2019, 60% of all start-up and spinout companies incorporated in the publicly funded research sector, including government institutions such as CSIRO, came from the Go8’1, said Ms Thomson.
‘This proposal will help address a gap in capital at that vital end of the innovation spectrum, when most researchers and startup founders have difficulty in finding investors willing to take on the ‘risk’ of funding new ideas,’ she said. ‘This early stage is where there are the largest bottlenecks and the greatest chances of ideas and entrepreneurs falling into the so-called ‘Valley of Death’.
The sectors identified under the plan correspond to Go8 areas of research excellence and start-up activity, including in AI, agriculture, defence and medtech, all critical to Australia’s future prosperity.
Go8 universities host well-known and respected accelerators such as the Melbourne Accelerator Program and ThincLab. Examples of significant recent startups from the Go8 include:
· Q-Ctrl based research on quantum physics
· Agerris developing robotic solutions for agriculture
· Amaero in additive manufacturing of aerospace equipment
· PERKii creator of an advanced probiotic drink while our universities host well-known
‘There is much to be done to drive research commercialisation and university industry-engagement and to ensure that our world-leading university knowledge can better serve the nation,’ Ms Thomson said.
The Go8 looks forward to further detail on the proposal, including how university accelerators will be involved, eligibility and mechanisms for funding, and longer-term measures to support start-ups and complement the loan assistance.