Although there are varying opinions around how involved government should be in the startup ecosystem, the general consensus is ‘support entrepreneurs, but let them lead the way’. Following Malcolm Turnbull’s newfound Prime Ministership and reshuffling of the Cabinet, it seems the government is finally letting tech entrepreneurs, as well as VCs, accelerators and other startup industry stakeholders, lead the way when it comes to matters in their interest. The newly appointed Assistant Minister for Innovation The Hon. Wyatt Roy MP has teamed up with venture technology firm BlueChilli to facilitate a one-day policy hackathon to take place in Sydney next weekend.
The hackathon, called Policy Hack, is an opportunity for representatives from startups, VC funds, accelerators, incubators, universities and other operators in the innovation ecosystem, as well as policy experts from key government departments, to collaborate and bring innovation to an area that lacks it most: policy. The very use of the hackathon methodology shows the government is interested in engaging in the language and activities of startup entrepreneurs and technologists. (In a video, Roy even says Policy Hack aims to “disrupt the Canberra bureaucracy”).
Policy ideas are currently being submitted online via OurSay.org. From funding and taxation to education and migration, no policy area is off limits as long as it promises to help foster the growth of innovation industries like agtech. biotech, fintech, renewables and resources.
Ten people with the highest ‘upvoted’ policy ideas will be invited to Sydney to lead teams and workshop their ideas with government and industry representatives before pitching to a panel of government representatives.
Currently, some of the highest ranking ideas include tax incentives for angel investors (submitted by Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin of BlueChilli) – Innovation Minister Christopher Pyne is already reportedly considering this – financial incentives for technical graduates to found or join a startup (submitted by Alex Ghiculescu of Tanda) and a national programme of entrepreneurship exposure and education in all Australian universities to nurture students early on in their careers (submitted by Colin Kinner of Spike Innovation).
According to policyhack.com.au, the overarching goal of the hackathon is “to present a set of creative new ideas to an audience of government officials … [and] give them the top-line thinking from which full policy can be developed and implemented.”
If the outcries of the startup community fell on deaf ears before, it’s safe to say the Australian government is listening now, finally recognising the tech sector’s potential to become Australia’s economic powerhouse.
The five standard judging criteria include:
- Value proposition: Does the proposal address a clear and present problem in the innovation ecosystem, and has the problem been clearly articulated?
- Impact: Does the proposal contribute to making the innovation ecosystem stronger?
- Implementation: Is the proposal practical to implement; has the proposal identified required resources (public and private); has the proposal indicated who would be the relevant stakeholders? Is the proposal practically achievable in realistic timeframes?
- Value for money: Has consideration been made to proposal’s potential costs?
- International comparisons: Has anything similar been done internationally?