Three radical tweaks to grow the AU tech startup industry faster

Pete Cooper emailed a few people this week, said he was getting a lot of time with State and Federal politicians and bureaucrats lately, and was looking for some big change ideas he could pitch to them.

So here’s the three ideas I sent him, in my original shorthand. They aren’t fully-thought out, they are intentionally risky, big, costly — how I think government should behave whenever it tries to influence the economic future (vs balancing a budget or winning an election):

  1. 100% tax deductions for individual investors on investments up to $500k-ish in tech startups valued less than $3M pre. Returns less than 3x-ish on those investments after 3 years exempt from CGT. Zero or negative returns after 3 years immediately deductible.
  2. State Premier’s Prize or Federal Prime Minister’s Prize of $250k to the best 100 young tech startup entrepreneurs among enrolled tertiary students. “Best” means to ship and commercialise a viable product before you graduate. Students effectively get a zero cost degree. Reward our industry’s best champions (eg Pete Cooper, Mike CB) by celebrating them as judges the same way it’s a huge deal to be a member of the AOC or a Nobel Prize judge.
  3. Promote digital exports with export grants by giving massive tax concessions to revenue earned by AU registered companies from sale of digital IP earned in foreign markets, in foreign currencies. All SAAS, software license, hardware-driven-by-software and creative works (film, TV, music, games) applies.

Not an idea but an extra bonus plea: quit dicking around with tiny meaningless changes. Risk more. How can we create an Australian Border Force in less than a year and be ready to spend billions bombing ISIS in Syria yet be terrified of making a billion dollar change to the tech startup industry? JFDI!

I’m Alan Jones, an EiR for startup accelerators, GP at M8 Ventures. Previously investor, founder, and early Yahoo PM. Opinions mine (but should also be yours).

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