Federal budget a “disappointment” for startups: “This is a missed opportunity”

The government’s federal budget is a “missed opportunity” for the Australian startup community and broadly a “disappointment”, StartupAUS CEO Alex McCauley says.

Revealed by Treasurer Scott Morrison on Tuesday night, the budget includes few new policies or funding for the startup community, serving mainly to reaffirm the moves announced in last year’s $1.1 billion innovation statement.

McCauley says the budget was the government’s “first opportunity” to outline its vision for the country’s future economy, and is ultimately a “disappointment.

“There is little in this budget to advance the government’s support for innovation and entrepreneurship,” McCauley says.

“Almost all the measures relevant to startups that the treasurer alluded to in his budget speech had already been announced six months ago. None of those measures have come into effect yet.”

The budget included a $200,000 commitment to promote Australia internationally as a financial technology destination, as well as enterprise tax cuts that will likely benefit startups.

While these announcements are “welcome”, McCauley says it isn’t nearly enough.

“These are small, niche measures in an area that still requires bold, substantial action,” he says.

“Since the announcement of the National Innovation and Science Agenda six months ago, the government has been telling startups that the NISA was just the beginning.

“This budget was a missed opportunity to make good on that promise.”

River City Labs general manager Josh Anthony agrees that the budget is “conservative” but says there are some positive aspects, including the ‘Exploring being my own boss’ workshops aimed to encouraging job seekers to explore self-employment.

“This gives young people a chance to do laps around the block and hone their skills,” Anthony says.

“Some of the best entrepreneurs I know have failed once or twice and succeeded much bigger with the battle scars of the real world.

“It’s good to see entrepreneurship now as a real career path, not just trades and university.”

But ultimately, he says there isn’t much in there for the startup sector.

“It’s a conservative budget,” Anthony says.

“Unfortunately startups don’t run on four-year election cycles, they need growth right now.”

Hey You co-founder Rebekah Campbell says the budget is more geared towards small business than the startup community.

“The changes to the company tax rate don’t really effect startups,” Campbell says.

“It would be more beneficial to bring more investment into early stages, and support businesses through from early-stage to profitability through R&D tax concessions.”

More to come.

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