New Australian innovation plan praised but it will need foreign talent

by Ray Clancy on December 14, 2015

in Money, Business and Finance

New policies announced by the Australian government are set to make the country more globally competitive and boost its innovation potential, a new analysis report says.

It is well known that Australia is keen to attract entrepreneurs and innovative businesses, with new visas announced to make it easier, but it is the Government’s attitude in terms of not just encouraging new innovation from around the world, but also improving conditions for existing business that is key, says KPMG Australia.

EntrepreneurIt says that the Government’s innovation statement is a positive step forward on the journey to achieving Australia’s innovation potential and becoming globally competitive, but it also says that talent from overseas will be needed to fulfil the vision.

However, KPMG is warning the Government that further visa reform is needed.

“A sharp slowdown in the number of temporary 457 visas over the last two years has had a clear and adverse effect on the Australian economy,” said Michael Wall, National Leader for Immigration at KPMG.

“Visa programmes can deliver workers to precisely where they are needed in the economy by businesses who are creating the wealth for our country. Drawing talent from overseas will increase our connectedness with other markets and the intensity of our innovation clusters,” continued Wall. “Special priority needs to be given to bring Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skilled researchers and professionals and those with a clear entrepreneurial record.”

James Mabbott, head of KPMG Innovate, agreed that overseas expertise should be encouraged.

“We need to think big as entrepreneurs and aspire to be global. Our economy is not a closed system and so much of our success is dependent on our ability to participate successfully in the global economy,” said Mabbott.

The report points out that there are tax and business incentives which will be a boost to innovation. And the maintenance of a Research and Development tax incentive will also help boost innovation.

There will also be the creation of an independent body called Innovation and Science Australia to provide strategic advice to the Government for the better planning and use of Australia’s investment in research and development.

“The Government’s focus on capital in the Innovation Statement is most welcome for both potential investors and high tech, high growth, innovation active businesses. The most quantifiable outcomes come in the form of the tax incentives for early stage investors. This is an extremely positive step towards deploying Australia’s robust communities of investors, from angel investors to family trusts and family businesses,” said Bill Petreski, director, KPMG Innovate. “The overall approach ensures the pillars are in place for an ongoing and active community of investors that will link in well with the other parts of the innovation statement that focusses on collaboration with the wealth of intellectual property and ideas emanating from our researchers and universities.”

However, according to Helen Sant, Research & Development, KPMG Australia, there is a lack of collaboration between the university sector and business.

“There is a missing link here. More needs to be done to bridge the business and academic cultures. In the UK, Europe and the United States there is greater awareness of what business and academia are each doing,” said Sant.

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