National Innovation and Science Agenda: Turnbull releases $1bn massive list of new policies


news Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull this morning released a huge list of new policy initiatives relating to technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, as part of the Federal Government’s National Science and Innovation Agenda statement.

The policy initiatives come in four key policy planks: Culture and capital, Collaboration, Talent and Skills and ‘Government as an exemplar’. The total cost of the initiatives over the next half-decade ranges to about $1.1 billion. The Government has not yet said how they will be funded. The initiatives are as follows, and they can all be found online in detail here.

Tax incentive for early stage investors:

  • A 20% non-refundable tax offset on investments, capped at $200k per investor per year
  • A 10 year exemption on capital gains tax, provided investments are held for three years
  • Applying from the date of Royal Assent, expected to commence from 1 July 2016

New arrangements for Venture Capital Limited Partnerships

  • Partners in a new ESVCLP will receive a 10% non-refundable tax offset on capital invested during the year
  • The maximum fund size for new ESVCLPs will be increased from $100 million to $200 milion
  • ESVCLPs will no longer be required to divest a company when its value exceeds $250 million
  • Applying from the date of Royal Assent, expected to commence from 1 July 2016

Increasing access to company loses

  • Relaxing the ‘same business’ test to allow businesses to access past year losses when they have entered into new transactions or business activities
  • Legislation expected to be introduced in the first half of 2016

Intangible asset depreciation

  • A new option will allow businesses to self-assess the tax-effective life of acquired intangible assets that are currently fixed by statute — aligning tax treatment of these assets with other asset types
  • ‘The faster depreciation will make startups’ intellectual property, as well as other intangible assets, a more attractive investment option’
  • The new arrangements will apply to assets acquired from 1 July 2016

CSIRO innovation fund

  • A new early stage innovation fund of $200m to support co-investment in new spin-off and startup companies, products and services created by Australian research institutions
  • A $20m expansion of the CSIRO’s accelerator program to include other publicly funded research organisations to more rapidly prepare their research for commercial adoption
  • Early stage fund implemented by CSIRO in 2016 … expansion of existing accelerator program to commence in 2016-2017

Biomedical Translation Fund

  • New $250 million independent body that will co-invest with the private sector in promising biomedical discoveries and assist in their commercialisation
  • New Commonwealth body to be established in 2016
  • Established by drawing $250m from the Medical Research Future Fund

Incubator Support Program

  • $8m to support startup incubators and accelerators
  • Secondments of research or technical talent
  • Support will start from 1 July 2016

Insolvency reform

  • Reducing default bankruptcy period from three years to one year
  • Safe harbour for directors from personal liability for insolvent trading if they appoint a restructuring advisor
  • Making ‘ipso facto’ clauses (which allow contracts to be terminated due to an insolvency event) unenforceable if a company is undertaking a restructure
  • Proposal paper in first half of 2016, legislation in mid-2017

Further reforms to employee share schemes

  • Limiting requirement for disclosure documents given to employees under an ESS to be made available to the public
  • Consultation with industry on further disclosure amendments to make ESS more user-friendly
  • Legislation in first half of 2016

$2.3 billion for research infrastructure

  • $1.5bn for the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy
  • $520m for the Australian Synchrotron
  • $294m for Australia’s commitment to the Square Kilometre Array
  • Synchrotron and SKA funding commences in 2016-17, NCRIS funding ongoing from 2017-18

University research block grants

  • Replacing existing six research block grants with two streamlined programs
  • Research Support Programme: $885m in 2017 to support systemic costs of research
  • Research Training Programme: $948m in 2017 to support training the next generation
  • Consultation in 2016, new arrangements to commence 1 January 2017

Global Innovation Strategy

  • $11m for five ‘landing pads’ in Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv and three other locations to support entrepreneurs expanding
  • $22m seed funding to assist Australian collaborations with international research groups, s uch as the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany
  • $3m in reducing barriers to regional collaboration
  • Implementation starting in 2016, funding available from 1 July 2016

Cyber Security Growth Centre

  • $30m through 2019-2020 to create a Cyber Security Growth Centre
  • First initiative to be delivered under the new Cyber Security Strategy, to be released in 2016
  • Operational by mid-2016

Quantum Computing

  • $26m over five years in UNSW’s Centre for Quantum Computation and Communications
  • Funding to commence in 2016-2017

Innovation Connections

  • $18m to expand and relaunch the Research Connections scheme, rebadged as Innovation Connections
  • Entrepreneurs’ Programme is currently running and will expand from 1 Jan 2016

National assessment of university research performance

  • Conducted by the Australian Research Council
  • Pilot assessment in 2017, first national report in 2018

Faster research/industry collaborative project grants

  • From 1 July 2016, the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Projects scheme will be open to continuous applications, and decision-making will be fast-tracked.

$48m over five years to inspire more Australians to undertake STEM courses, commencing 2016-17

$51m over five years to help Australian students embrace the digital age, commencing 1 July 2016

$13m over five years to encourage women to enter STEM careers, commencing 2016-17

$75m invested in Data61, to commence 1 July 2016

New VISA system for enterpreneurs

  • Bonus permanent residency points for STEM/ICT postgraduate researchers, coming in Dec 2016
  • New Enterpreneur VISA coming in November 2016
  • Promoting Australia as a world-class destination to start innovative businesses

Digital Marketplace to help SMEs do business with government

  • Built by DTO over 12 months, to go live in January 2017
  • Prototype available in 2016

$19m Business Research and Innovation Initiative

  • Policy/service delivery ‘challenges’, with grants of up to $100,000 awarded
  • Will launch on 1 July 2016

Innovation and Science Australia

  • New independent body with a mandate to provide strategic whole of government advice on all science, research and innovation matters
  • Will complement the Commonwealth Science Council
  • Legislation will be introduced to establish the new ISA effective from 1 July 2016

Releasing more non-sensitive public data for private sector innovation

  • Release of the Australian Government Public Data Policy Statement in Dec 2015
  • Especial focus on release of PSMA Australia’s Geocoded National Address File and Administrative Boundaries dataset

Crowd-sourced equity funding

  • Legislation introduced by O’Dwyer earlier this week, will commence within six months of the legislation receiving royal assent
  • Draft regulations setting out the details of the scheme will shortly be released

Image credit: Office of Wyatt Roy


  1. > $8m to support startup incubators and accelerators

    Well thats not alot.

    What happening with NEIS scheme? Why isnt that being boosted or replaced with Business startup package

  2. So he’s given CSIRO some of their original funding back, how magnanimous!!!

    While he’s giving things back, how about he gives us the real NBN back?

    • Yeah taken 115m, returned 90m. Pity about the damage they’ve done in the mean time, with projects and departments shut down and staff lost overseas.

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