Australia’s innovation future is under threat, according to Deloitte, with many of the nation’s high-growth tech start-ups or ‘gazelles’ being lured overseas.
Deloitte said successful tech start-ups are being attracted to innovation hot spots around the world by favourable incentives, opportunities to network with like-minded gazelles and potential investors, profile building opportunities and deep talent pools.
“Australia is home to a huge number of growing start-ups with world-class ideas, technologies and potential, and we must keep it that way,” Joshua Tanchel, a Deloitte private partner and leader of the company’s Technology Fast 50 Program, said.
“We must continue to incentivise start-ups as they do in the UK with tax-based initiatives such as the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), Entrepreneur’s Relief and Patent Box in order to harness the ideas boom currently underway.
“But we also need to share the spotlight currently being enjoyed by early-stage start-ups with our high-growth companies in order to safeguard our country’s future prosperity.”
Tanchel said Israel is another country that offers a range of incentives both to home-grown entrepreneurs and foreign investors, including tax incentives for angel investors and government co-investing with experienced venture capitalist funds.
“They also invest in programs to nurture talent and strengthen links between academia and industry and prioritise a responsive business environment,” he added.
“As a result, second only to Silicon Valley, Israel has the highest concentration of high-tech start-ups globally.”
Tanchel said Singapore offers tax deductions for investors, concessional tax rates for start-ups, a Technopreneurship Investment Fund that aims to attract high-growth companies to relocate to Singapore, and a grants scheme that funds the salaries of technical staff.
“We must learn from these global exemplars, while also recognising the importance of creating the right settings for our start-up ecosystem in the Australian context, in order to secure the future of our gazelles here in Australia and in turn secure our position on the global innovation map and with that our country’s economic future,” he said.
Tanchel noted that it was encouraging to see the federal government outlining the second and third waves of its National Innovation and Science Agenda, but stressed that the tech industry cannot purely rely on the government to create a globally competitive ecosystem for Australia.
“We all have to play our part,” he said.
Tanchel said Deloitte has long championed Australia’s tech start-ups, in particular through its Technology Fast 50 program, which is now in its 16th year.
“Our Tech Fast 50 program not only celebrates the success of Australia’s fastest-growing technology companies, but provides ongoing support, opportunities to connect with potential investors and helps put them on the map – both domestically and globally,” he said.
The program ranks nominees involved in any tech related industry – from media, communications, software and hardware to life sciences, healthcare and clean energy – based on their revenue growth over three years, with those who make the top 50 automatically nominated for Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 Asia Pacific.
Previous winners of Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 Australia include small business lender Prospa, telecommunications provider Vocus Communications, wine deal website Vinomofo, hotel software company Siteminder, data centre operator NextDC and IT giant Atlassian.