NSW election: here’s what Labor and the Coalition have to say about their support for startups

- March 24, 2023 3 MIN READ
An artist's impression of the Central Place Sydney development, part of Tech Central
New South Wales voters go to the polls this Saturday to decide who’ll lead the nation’s most populous state for the next four years.

The Coalition has been in charge since 2011 and the consensus is that this election is too close to call, with the potential for another minority government – something current premier Dominic Perrottet has worked with since he took over from Gladys Berejiklian 18 months ago.

But amid debates over healthcare, education, savings accounts for kids, faster toll roads and pokies reforms, the startup and tech sectors are feeling neglected.

Ahead of the election, Business NSW called for the major parties to commit to a $1.3 billion venture capital fund to support startups. The call follows in the footsteps of Victorian Premier Dan Andrews and his 2021 announcement of the $2 billion Breakthrough Victoria fund.

Spoiler alert: it hasn’t happened.

Business NSW CEO Daniel Hunter said the state risks losing a generation of entrepreneurs and startups because of a lack of investment, with NSW falling behind Victoria in the race to be the entrepreneurial state.

“The fund would see NSW take an equity share in new and emerging businesses, ensuring the state sees a return on investment, and send a signal that we are the start-up hub of the southern hemisphere,” he said.

“A venture capital fund will attract global investment management expertise to NSW, nurture our world-leading research and development into jobs at home, and foster a whole new generation of entrepreneurs.”

Serial entrepreneur, Richard Joffe, who scaled and sold two businesses in Silicon Valley before moving to Australia to found Honey Insurance, believes that along with a lack of future founder investment by the government, there needs to be more focus on and support entrepreneurship in the school system.

“As the cost of living crisis in Australia bites and rentals continue to rise there is not enough focus on how this affects start ups and future proofing the vibrant entrepreneurial community we have here in NSW,” he said.

“NSW has led the way in terms of innovation with some of the largest tech and fintech startups in Australia challenging the status quo and continuously driving for change. Companies like Afterpay, Canva, Atlassian, Airtasker and Zip have all thrived in NSW but the concern is in the current climate, without more funding we will see a decline in these success stories.”

“With funding becoming more challenging and the cost to operate spiralling out of control, we are calling for more funding to be provided to help startups thrive and survive in some of the most difficult business environments we have seen in our time.”

Startup Daily asked both the Coalition government and Labor opposition for their policies on the tech and startup sector. Their responses are reprinted verbatim below.

Alister Henskens

Minister for enterprise, investment and trade; Minister for science, innovation and technology

Liberal Party 

The NSW Liberal and Nationals Government believes in supporting start-ups and entrepreneurs, which is why we’ve helped build the nation’s leading innovation ecosystem that is competing on the global stage with the likes of Silicon Valley, London and New York.

The NSW Liberal and Nationals Government is committed to turbocharging work in this space, investing record amounts in commercialisation, technological development and innovation.

Most deep tech companies are built on new and unproven technology that have the potential to change people’s lives, but they struggle to navigate the ‘valley of death’.

The NSW Liberal and Nationals Government has a wide range of nation-leading programs focusing on supporting innovation and commercialisation, including MVP Ventures, the Biosciences Fund, the Physical Sciences Fund, the Quantum Computing Commercialisation Fund and the Small Business Innovation & Research program.

The NSW Liberal and Nationals Government also offers hands-on support through our startup and scale up hubs in Sydney’s Tech Central, in the CBD and Western Sydney.

In line with our long-term economic plan to keep NSW moving forward, we are backing our home-grown innovators to transform their ideas into real commercial outcomes, that create jobs and economic prosperity for our state.

The 2022 Innovation and Productivity Scorecard showed that NSW has a growing venture capital presence, with more than 300 additional venture capital firms choosing to operate in NSW since 2019.


Yasmin Catley

Deputy Leader of the Opposition, shadow minister for digital

Labor Party

NSW Labor has a plan to back local startups and leverage the power of government procurement to do so. Currently too often small and medium businesses are fenced out from winning government tenders, this will change under Labor.

A Labor Government will increase local procurement by including a local supplier element to tender weightings which gives priority to small businesses in the area nearby the projects. Along with increasing the threshold for direct procurement with small business from $150,000 to $250,000.

A Minns Labor Government will also establish the NSW Business Bureau to help businesses to navigate regulation and processes, as well as engage with overseas markets. The Bureau will also help small businesses in tendering for government contracts, provide guidance on accessing government programs, grants and initiatives.

Labor will work collaboratively to back in start ups and grow local industry.