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Aussie Tech Leaders address Minister Husic’s pledge of investment to medical technologies

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Ed Husic, the Minister for Industry and Science, has pledged “to fix Australia’s brain drain and research translation problems as part of a pandemic recovery, flagging billions in strategic investment for emerging and medical technologies to transform Australia into a country of ‘makers’ not ‘takers’.

Noel Allnutt, Managing Director at Sekuro, said ” In leading an organisation of ‘makers’ who are themselves employed in a vibrant industry of the same, it’s gratifying to see Minister Husic acknowledging that in 2022 and beyond, the growth of Australia’s economy can be significantly accelerated and diversified through the success of our homegrown digital and tech companies. Australia has always been a resource-rich country, and now finally that seems to be extending to our collective brain power, rather than just what we dig out of the ground.

“The strategic investments recently announced will start creating the right environment to foster tech innovation when bolstered through further investment in areas like R&D, as well as tax reform, like that of the revised ESS scheme, to incentivise growth across our local tech sector.”

Eric Fan, Founder and CEO of LUMOS, said “It’s refreshing to have a new Minister for Industry and Science who is finally bringing innovation back to the fore. This is what Australia’s startup ecosystem has been waiting for since Malcolm Turnbull’s ideas boom promise in 2015. The tech sector’s expectations are high and Ed Husic’s outlook and plans are promising.”

On empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs and founders at an earlier stage, Fan said “While the Labor’s education-based program to get 1.2million people into tech jobs by 2030 sounds great, the goal should be to strengthen Australia’s startup ecosystem by fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in order to influence our next-gen entrepreneurs and founders at an earlier stage.

“As such, the government programs and support need to start earlier, targeting students as young as in high school. On top of free TAFE places, extra university courses and government support for growing start-ups, what is lacking is forums and workshops to introduce entrepreneurship to school-aged students.”

Fan also expresses a need for more targeted funding for startups. “The biggest barrier to entry to a startup is high cost. Even though there are already government grants available to support startups, they’re not taken advantage of because founders don’t even know they’re available.” he said, “If founders aren’t aware of the different grants made available to them, they’re missing out on fundamental support which can break their business before it’s even out of the starting blocks.”

“Having the public sector invest and trust in local startups by being the first trial client for startups, has the power to significantly boost confidence in the ecosystem as well as enhance product-market fit.”

Dionne Woo, Chief People Officer of SiteMinder said “As the nation’s tech skills shortage seemingly sees no end, it’s positive to see the government ramp up investments in the industry and commit to finding solutions. Minister Ed Husic recently announced a focus on skilled migration reform to bring back tech talent and expats working overseas, which is much-needed to help alleviate the pressures of current shortages in the more immediate term.

However, there are implementable solutions that need to be equally prioritised as soon as possible to ensure the sustainability of the sector in the long haul. This includes building the next-generation of tech talents for the future, especially with the nation forecast to need 79 per cent more digital workers than the current numbers by 2025.

Looking ahead, more conversation between our education systems, businesses and the government is clearly needed. Tech skills not only need to become more of a focus within the Australian schooling system, but new avenues, such as apprenticeship programs well suited to the fast-paced industry should be funded. Such programs would give young Australians a head start into the tech world, and the opportunity to learn on the job while simultaneously studying their craft at either TAFE or university. At the same time, programs should extend to create opportunities, particularly for those still under-represented in our industry, including women of colour or neurodiverse talents.”

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