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Australian Startups to Benefit from $800k Funding Program

25 November 2013 No Comment

manwritingAustralia’s new Coalition government seems to have turned innovation and SMEs into one of their main priorities, judging by the number of events they are associating with and statements its members are making on these topics. Only recently, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull turned up to speak at the launch of a privately-funded program, which aims to improve the odds at financial survival that local startups can benefit from. Turnbull took this opportunity to comment on the current status of the startup segment of the economy, thereby reminding audiences of the Coalition’s plan for updating the law on employee share schemes. Meanwhile, the funding program launched in mid-October and set to improve conditions in the startup segment will see one of the country’s top communications providers award $800,000 to emerging companies – an initiative worth looking into. 

At this point, it’s important to note that, while Australia does boast a set of perks for emerging companies, there is still a lot of room for improvement down under. On the one hand, the country is one of the world’s most Wi-Fi ready countries and the opportunities for finding affordable office space to rent abound for businesses that seek to improve overheads and focus on flexible workspace solutions. On the other hand, though, representatives of the startup segment seem to believe that legal reforms would greatly improve the framework for developing bold, innovative new companies.

Australia’s telco providers wage startup war

Telstra, one of Australia’s top telco companies, has recently launched muru-D in an effort to strengthen the connection between the company and startups. The funding program launched in October had been in development for some four months and its goal is to strategically position the company above its competition. The launch of the program follows an announcement made by a competitor, which stated it would increase the number of applicants for its similar seed funding program for startups. The Telstra program will award ten startups in the tech field $40,000 every half a year, amounting to a total of $800,000. The incubator is based in Paddington and consists of more than just access to capital. It will also provide entrepreneurs with a co-working space, mentoring and coaching programs, as well as practical support for businesses. The name of the program, muru-D, comes from “muru”, an aboriginal word meaning “path to” and “digital”.

Minister urges for update of attitude toward startups

In his speech at the event, minister Malcolm Turnbull explained that the current mode of thinking regarding startups is too harsh and does not promote innovation. Turnbull reminded audiences that some of the country’s leading companies and richest businesspeople have a stash of failed projects in their track record. Similarly, startups and entrepreneurs should allow themselves to make mistakes – as should the general public. The important thing, Turnbull highlighted, is for startups to persist in their efforts to succeed and to soldier on with their innovation and experiments. According to the minister, current attitudes toward innovators are hindering them from further development and growth, since they inculcate the fear of failure, in an industry which is largely about trial and error.

Oz startups up for more change

The minister’s speech also reminded entrepreneurs of the Coalition’s pre-electoral promise to update currently enforced legislation on employee share schemes. Turnbull qualified the current laws as “very unsatisfactory”, while a reform in this field would prove a great incentive for more startups to pop up Down Under. The minister once more referred to the fact that, under the laws as they stand right now, it is virtually impossible for startups to provide their employees with share benefits, because of excessive red tape in carrying out such an incentive scheme. The red tape must be done away with, while making sure that all taxes are properly collected.

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