Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s recent visit to Australia prompted Prime Minister Turnbull to reignite discussions around the importance of technology, science and investment. In his address at a luncheon recently held in honour of Netanyahu, Turnbull more specifically reiterated their joint commitment to:
“deliver the resilience and integrity of all the digital platforms on which our 21st century economies are built.”
The Government is right to focus on fostering an environment for better digital intelligence but the real challenge is paving the way for Australia to become a place where people want to own and retain intellectual property, not take it overseas.
Whilst Australia has a mature and desirable market, we still have a way to go in creating a digital intelligence environment conducive to strong capital growth.
Other countries cannot be criticised for having better ways of preserving capital. Experts and digital labor will continue to follow this capital abroad unless significant changes are made here in Australia.
Any government-backed programme to retain smart businesses in Australia, needs to be coupled with a new wave of tax reforms that encourage the creation and retention of intellectual property.
Governments around the world are trying to navigate taxing intellectual property in a borderless environment and there is tough competition between countries.
Home grown intellectual property should be encouraged to remain in Australia. Tax reform is a necessary tool when other countries are desperately trying to attract great ideas using concessional taxation of intellectual property. The people that have conceived those ideas will surely follow.
The Australian government’s $11.2 million initiative to establish “Landing Pads” in Berlin, San Francisco, Shanghai, Singapore and Tel Aviv, was designed to provide market-ready startups with a 90 day operational base located in one of the five global innovation hotspots.
While such an initiative could equip start-ups with the necessary tools to get their foot in the door, it also raises issues of integrity and security of that intellectual property and whether sufficient protocols and measures are in place to ensure that it can be both commercialised and safeguarded abroad.
The state and federal governments should place greater importance on implementing long-term initiatives that dovetail with models of proven initiatives at a local level.
For example, Brisbane is leading the way in terms of creating a prosperous local environment for digital businesses to form.
Brisbane was only the second city in the world to appoint a Chief Digital Officer who worked with the business community to form a digital first strategy which aims to drive digital uptake and use in Brisbane.
Critical ingredients to the success of these up and coming business hubs are international transport links, high quality internet services and simple and easy work environments.
Start-ups would also benefit from having access to the distribution platforms of established players. If the federal government were to support larger digital businesses with distribution by encouraging them to keep their IP here, these larger businesses would be better placed to support the startup economy.
It’s time that the industry has a shake up and Australia should be looking at ways to keep the digital sphere close to home.
An IP style hub located in regional Western Australia, for example, could provide a gateway to strengthening Australian-Asian ties while also compensating for our deteriorating mining industry.
Business development, skills and information sharing are all key drivers in industry growth and it’s time that we focus on supporting and driving these elements within our own country to bolster businesses, big and small. More importantly, it’s imperative that local, state and federal initiatives are coordinated to ensure Australia’s best and brightest ideas are not lured away from our digital sphere when they are on the brink of commercialisation.