Steve Baxter Master Class - part 4: the state of tech in Australia

Scott Cooper

Welcome to Part 4 of our Steve Baxter Master Class!

In this part of our master class Steve is going to be talking about the state of tech in Australia. With a recent change in of Prime Minister, we are already starting to see a new government looking to give our fast growing tech industry a big boost. Steve talks to us about some new policies that will have a big impact on the local innovation sector, how to make the most of utilizing government programs, revising the Australian visa system to get more skilled workers into the country, and changes to tax plans that will benefit startups.

"I'm particularly excited at the moment with the way Australia is going in the innovation space. We've got a fresh new Prime Minister, we've got a bit of a change going in ministry as well. All of a sudden we can talk openly about innovation and there's a lot of potential in this country that we're going to start to utilize more and hopefully we're going to see more Go1's and other companies absolutely kicking it out of the park and becoming global success stories.

We need lots of policy changes in Australia. One I was working on over the weekend was the NEIS Scheme. A lot of people roll their eyes when I say this but NEIS is something call New Enterprise Incentives Scheme, and it's actually a really good scheme give people who start traditional businesses, hairdressers, mower shops, all the rest of it, 39 weeks new start goal, whilst they're actually starting the business, and the income of the business doesn't count against that income support. People do use it for startups, it's actually just quite hard to do that, it's not obvious and you've actually just got to sort of close your eyes and bend to the left a bit to shape it towards a tech startup. So we're working with the government to hopefully take that and make that more available to tech startups so people can actually use it through accelerator programs. so if you've been accepted to an accelerator program, like Go1 was, you can also get 39 weeks of income support along the way. While it's not good for all businesses, it's actually helping people to move from one part of their life to another. So that one is particularly interesting at the moment.

I think we need to need to take care of our visas at the moment, our 457 visas. We need  default accept as opposed to a default deny when it comes to the appropriate skill of people on a 457 visa. I had a great idea, it's not actually my idea it's Mike Honeybrook's from about 4 weeks ago, he said that we should just look at anyone with the appropriate degree from say one of the top 500 universities in the world and if they've got it, we should tick it and let them in for 2, 5, 6 years or whatever the time is. That's not a bad basis to start from. I like getting the supply of people, along with the supply of skills which is quite important. 

I also like some of the tax plans that are around at the moment, and those tax plans and those plans are all around giving early stage investors the same capital gains tax relief that larger investors get. Right now there's a scheme where by if you have $10 million dollar to invest in certain areas, you can actually get capital gains tax exempt as well. If it's worth while, why not make it for anyone investing in one of those earlier stage companies eligible for capital gains tax exception. Lets face it, probably 1 in 10 actually work anyway so it's not like we're losing a great deal. A lot is going on in the politics space, and i'm really happy to see it being discussed at the moment." 

Recently there was also a great panel discussion at TEDxSydney discussing the challenges and opportunities around entrepreneurship and startups in Australia featuring Dr Russel J Howard, Scientist, CEO and Entrepreneur, Professor Tony Weiss, Researcher and Founder at Elastagen, Sally-Ann Williams, Engineering Community & Outreach at Google, Whitney Komor, Founder and CEO of TheBestDay and hosted by Craig Reucassel of The Chaser.

If you'd like to find out more about Steve and what you will be learning in the Master Class you can watch his introduction video HERE.

Make sure you tune in next week when we will be delving into Why Startups and New Businesses are Critical

Incase you missed it, you can also watch:

Part 1: Why ongoing learning is Important

Part 2: Steve Baxter on Ideas

Part 3: Learning on the job

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