What Should The Social Sector Do With The $1.1bn Innovation Investment?

Unearthing a sustainable business model just became more achievable.

Yesterday the Federal Government committed $1.1 billion over four years to grow innovation.

This opportunity is ripe for the social sector to exploit.

But how?

First you need to embrace innovation

Turnbull wants Australia to be a nation of innovators.

Mr Pyne said  “The release of the Agenda is just the beginning. The next step will be a national discussion around this new way of thinking and doing, and the importance of innovation and science to our future”.

Science and innovation will be at the heart of Government policy, with a new Innovation and Science committee of Cabinet, and the office of Digital Transformation a key change agent.

This means social innovation, as much as it means commercial innovation (and even better if we are talking about a profit-for-purpose mix).

Big Data – Big Availability

What would you do if you could get you hands on Government data?

How would it transform where you target your work and how you engage?

The Government has said they want to work with businesses, researchers, academia and the public to identify datasets that will have the highest impact when opened up for access.

They want to work with the likes of Community Insight Australia to enable social sector orgs to access a range of metrics on locations of choice and map that data.

What should you do with this information?

Be part of the conversation around what data needs to be shared and how.

Turning Government Procurement Social

The Government wants to use its $5 billion procurement spend to transform the way Government operates and drive innovation.

To this end Innovation and Science Australia will nominate five national policy and service delivery challenges. These challenges will help the Government find the most innovative solutions to the most important challenges in public policy and develop new ways to deliver Government services.

Innovative organisations will be invited to submit proposals to address the challenges, with winners receiving grants of up to $100,000 to test their ideas.

This is a huge opportunity for the social sector to look at their underutilised assets or data and develop these into products for the Government.

What should you do with this information?

Put your commercialization hat on, evaluate your assets and consider the possibilities. 

STEM means business

Mr Pyne said the country’s future skill base would be shored up through a $99 million investment in boosting digital literacy and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) amongst young Australians.

This includes school student based programs through to support for teachers to implement the Digital Technologies curriculum, partnerships to bring scientists and ICT professionals into the classroom and an emphasis on female role models in Australia’s STEM and innovation sectors.

What should you do with this information?

If your social impact is about science education or women in science – you’re on the leader board. The heavy lifting has been done for you – so make the most of this initiative.

Equity crowdfunding is now available

‘So what?’, you might ask.

Imagine if you were a not for profit with an amazing idea for a revenue generating social enterprise or social business but were finding it difficult to raise the capital you need.

With this initiative there is potential to get a consortium together and each take an equity share. The company would need to be public, but with reporting exemptions for 5 years the set up is now manageable.

What should you do with this information?

Crowdfunders are now stakeholders. Think about how you could use equity crowd funding to aid your mission (or even drive it).

Partnerships rewarded

A key takeaway from this announcement is the government’s readiness to build a bridge between industries and sectors.

They know that collaboration between researchers and business helps generate more products and services to benefit the business, the economy and broader society.

What should you do with this information?

Partner up! Find values-aligned companies that can help you achieve your mission and get talking. (You may have a problem that they can solve).

Tax incentives

Angel investors can expect to pack their bags and take a tax holiday when investing in startups.

The 2 key reforms are:

  • A 20% non-refundable tax offset on investment capped at $200,000 per investor, per year.
  • A 10-year capital gains tax exemption for investments held for three years.

The structure is based off a UK initiative. Their Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme raised over $500m in investments for 2,900 startups in just 2 years.

What should you do with this information?

Consider what role angel investors may play in getting that new enterprise off the ground.

Risk Reduction

Every entrepreneur weathers dozens of failures on the path to success.

If the Government can reduce the penalty of failing, entrepreneurs will be inclined to take risks. This will drive an entrepreneurial ecosystem.

  • They have reduced the bankruptcy period from 3 years to 1 year.
  • Taken personal liability out of the equation (if the right steps are taken to save the business).
  • Contracts can now be terminated should the business go under.

What should you do with this information?

If you’ve considered creating a spin-off enterprise, look into these additional protections.

This push for an ‘ideas boom’ has the potential to change the social and economic landscape of Australia.

The social sector needs to be at the heart of this change.

If you want help to explore the opportunities – Get in touch.

If you are interested in learning more about business strategy and sustainable business models

Download our Whitepaper on ‘In Search of Sustainability’

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