Innovation Nation here we come

Innovation Nation here we come

Twas just like the night before Christmas with the startup, entrepreneur and innovation ecosystem eagerly awaiting the Turnbull Government’s #InnovationStatement released today at 12.30pm AEST. We put out the cookies and milk, and we cleared the chimney of our battered expectations as we awaited the news that its our time for the Innovation Nation to to lead the way for prosperity.

The statement is slated to be all about the ideas boom expected to be generated by the initiatives announced today. Don’t hold your breath as most of the initiatives are due to be rolled out and implemented on July 1  2016. This gives the State and Territories ample time to recalibrate their budgets and efforts to support the innovation agenda.

The Innovation Statement can be found on the Australian Government National Innovation and Science Agenda website and is well laid out to cover four key areas for innovation growth – Working Together, Taking the Leap, Best and Brightest and Leading by Example.

Its great to see a range of views of the Innovation Statement (Thanks @NicoleWill100 for the link) including those of women in startup. Its important to hear the different voices in the innovation. Its not all about big guns and investment – its about opportunity for our country to shift gears and support those who can re position Australia as the Innovation Nation.

 The Innovation Statement is about opportunity for our country to shift gears and support those who can re position Australia as the Innovation Nation.


There are a lot of promising initiatives to look at that address capital investment and equity including crowd sourced equity funding (CSEF) and Venture Capital Limited Partnerships  (VCLP) and  Early Stage VC Limited Partnerships (ESVCLP) , tax treatment and incentives that are worth reading up on.

I’m going to focus on some personal favorites that I believe will shift Australia in the right direction in bringing communities along the Innovation super highway.

Overall great effort to excite the nation about a systemic innovation agenda – the devil will be in the delivery and how the state and territory governments respond to the statement in time for their budgets in 2016

The key challenge will be in the delivery and we already know many of the initiatives announced will not be “live” til July 1 2016 – so it will be critical to see how state and territory governments respond to this – they have ample time to recalibrate budgets to support and extend the benefits of the Innovation Statement.

Regional and Rural Communities 

Working together signals a new era of collaboration enabling the brightest minds to solve tipping point problems and its great to see that agriculture and regional communities are getting a good mention. This is vital – Agritech is needed to support regional and rural communities to access the enablers of tech and the recent Fair Trade Agreements.

The real work starts now how to ensure that regional and rural communities can fully understand and access what is available – this will be a challenge in areas where technology is limited and we know that is a problem even in NBN areas.  My pitch a Policy Hack was about how we can ensure disadvantaged communities can leverage tech – Incentives to Develop Social Enterprises may actually get a look in through some of the regional, R&D  and innovation incubator initiatives.

While I welcome the opportunities for Women in STEM, I cannot hide my disappointment in the lack of targeted initiatives for women, particularly in light of Wyatt Roy’s Policy Hack pitch – Gender equality: Boost female participation through the ‘Rockstar Initiative’ for a fund for women – lets see how many women will access the Investment funds available – mostly women do not fair very well in accessing capital so time will tell, and again it will only work if efforts are made to ensure women are aware of and have the capacity to apply!

The piece de resistance for me is the $8m for Incubator Support Program – however a tad disappointed that the amount wont go very far – I would have liked to see an Incubator support program targeting long term unemployed, skills shortage industries and those industries we know wont make the next decade – Incubators that focus on transformation would have been a winner in my books.

Key Challenges

Over the following week we will all be deconstructing the statement and its suite of initiatives until we get to the magical moment of what it really means. I am hopeful that if we can get the State and Territories on board that will be the best chance for the Innovation Statement to really shake things up and get Australia well on the road to be an Innovation Nation.

Anne-Marie Elias is a speaker and consultant in innovation and disruption for social change. She is an honorary Associate of the Centre for Local Government at UTS.

Anne-Marie has recently joined the Board of Western Sydney Women; the Australian Open Knowledge Foundation; Autism Advisory Board, and the Settlement Services International Foundation.

Follow Anne-Marie’s  journey of disruptive social innovation on Twitter @ChiefDisrupter or visit

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