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Greens unveil plans for an Innovation Nation

The Australian Greens have today released a comprehensive Innovation Policy to back startup enterprises, support STEM education and boost innovation funding.

The policy was launched in Melbourne today with Innovation spokesperson Nick McKim, Industry and Science spokesperson Adam Bandt and Greens candidate for Higgins Jason Ball.

“The Australian Greens will reinvigorate the minds of Australian entrepreneurs by reinvesting the funding to the Entrepreneur’s Infrastructure Program,” Senator McKim said.

“We want the Future Fund to set a 3% innovation investment target, which would drive around $15 billion of capital into the sector over the next four years.”

“By investing in innovation, we invest in the minds that make. We invest in the things that make life easier, safer and more colourful.”

“The Turnbull Coalition has shut down the opportunity for innovation, by slashing $388.7 million from the Entrepreneur’s Infrastructure Program, which had played a critical role in helping startups access the funds to kick off new projects.”

Senator Nick McKim, who is also spokesperson for schools, said the innovation sector would be boosted for years to come with a $678.9m investment over four years to increase Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) uptake in our schools and universities.

“We want to boost the numbers of children, particularly girls, being inspired to take up careers in STEM fields, which will encourage innovation in Australia in the long term,” Senator McKim said.

“We will set up an Innovation Commissioner to work with industry, universities, business, government agencies and Innovation and Science Australia to advance the innovation agenda.”

“The Innovation Commissioner would also be responsible for developing a National Social Innovation Strategy.”

“We want to back the innovators who are working for public benefit, but not necessarily for profit.”

“That’s why we believe that social entrepreneurs should be eligible for grant funding through the Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Program.”

“We will also ensure that government procurement policies will take into account the broader social, economic and environmental benefits of purchasing through Australian startups and social enterprises.”

“The Greens are the only party with the courage and vision to support social innovation.

Senator McKim said the Greens would also move to make crowdfunding simpler.

“The Greens would remove investor caps for mum and dad investors, and raise the eligible startup equity cap from $5 million to $10 million,” he said.

Mr Bandt said the Greens would move to address the short-term skill shortage.

“Australia will need 100,000 new ICT workers over the next six years to meet the demands of digital technology sectors, including startups,” he said.

“But in 2014 there were just 5,100 completions of undergraduate and postgraduate ICT degrees in Australia. On this trajectory, industry demand for ICT skills will far outstrip supply.”

The full policy is available at http://greens.org.au/innovation-nation

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