Talent International founder and managing director, Richard Earl, has urged the startup community to pull together following savage cuts to government programs in the 2014 Federal Budget.
In an open letter, Earl has called for Australia to support the local startup industry to counterbalance the Federal Government's decision to axe Commercialisation Australia, the Innovation Investment Fund, and an additional six programs providing start-up grants and support.
“We can counter the abolishment of Commercialisation Australia and the Innovation Investment Fund by connecting venture capitalists with local technology start-ups, by boosting the number of start-up hubs locally, and by showcasing technology professionals and giving them platforms to be recognised.”
The letter outlined support for the recent #StartupAUS Crossroads report suggesting that there are still many initiatives that the industry can implement despite the budget cuts.
Earl said the report outlined many ways to foster the Australian startup system.
"From supporting entrepreneurial behaviour by university researchers and supporting national programs to raise awareness of start-ups in Australia, to developing a national network of student start-up incubators and entrepreneurship centres," he said.
"Of course there are costs associated with this, but nevertheless we should encourage the industry and government to help support these grassroots initiatives."
Earl said the fight for the development of the Australian start-up scene was not over.
"There is no denying that we are facing set-backs with the recent announcements, but let’s refocus our energies and efforts on non-traditional ways to support the industry.”
Earl's main concern with the 2014 budget was the decision to abolish two of Australia’s primary start-up funding programs - the Innovation Investment Fund and Commercialisation Australia.
"While we saw the demise of the Government’s venture capital arm (responsible for assisting over 503 new businesses in Australia) coming with the suspension of grants earlier this year; coupling this with the Innovation Investment Fund’s discontinuation comes as a harder blow to local start-ups working in an already risk averse environment,” he said.
He is also concerned that Australia is missing many of the opportunities that counterparts in New Zealand, Israel, and New York City are leveraging in the current start-up climate.
“My fear is that that our focus on big thinking startups that go on to become larger industry players supporting local employment, research and development, and economic benefits will be lost. This fear is heightened when coupled with a reduction on venture capital opportunities - which is already particularly small in Australia and destined to continue to reduce year on year without the Innovation Investment Fund’s involvement.”
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