Here’s what the NSW Budget offers for startups

- June 18, 2024 2 MIN READ
Crickets. Photo: AdobeStock
If startups were hoping that after 15 months in power, the NSW Labor government would finally move from cuts to investment in the sector, the state Budget, released on Tuesday, is best summed up by a line from Dante’s Inferno as they enter hell: abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

Across the entire budget, the only time treasurer Daniel Mookey uses the word “startup” in the 2024-25 Budget is a line item in Budget Paper No.1 (198 pages).

It’s about the Sydney Startup Hub on York Street, home to Fishburners, Antler, Stone & Chalk, Tank Stream Labs and Microsoft Reactor, among others.

The good news is that after cutting rental support for the Sydney Startup Hub in the 2024 financial to just $2 million, a third of FY23’s $6 million allocation under the former Coalition government, that figure will increase to $4 million in FY25.

The hub is run by Investment NSW which was placed under the premier’s control a few months back amid plans for a new department to replace the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade, already under pressure after treasurer Mookhey cut its funding by around 10% in his first budget,

And that’s about it for startups. Technology gets the occasional mention, but mostly in the context of systems upgrades for government departments.

Small business was “meh” about the initiatives offered too.

For a tech sector waiting for a sign that the current NSW government is even vaguely interested in startups and their economic potential, it’s best not to hold your breath. While Queensland and Victoria have nearly daily announcements of investments, it’s all quiet on the NSW front.

The only Budget budget announcement from NSW innovation, science and technology minister Anoulack Chanthivong was a media release with his building minister hat on, with about $55 million to ramp up building compliance efforts and support for renters.

Two weeks ago, the Opposition innovation, science and technology spokesperson Mark Coure took a jab at his counterpart saying 100 days had passed without making a single announcement for the sector, saying there had been no media releases since February 26.

While the NSW science minister extended his streak on Budget day, his Queensland equal, Leanne Linard, made several announcements, including $1.5 million for First Australians Capital to deliver a business acceleration program to support Indigenous entrepreneurs in the Sunshine State.

With around a third of Labor’s first term back in office after 12 years on the opposition benches already over, and NSW government support on the startup front grinding to a halt, hope now turns to the long-awaited Innovation Blueprint minister Chanthivong announced plans for back in September last year. Submissions closed in March and the government’s plan is due later this year.

In the meantime, we wait.