Alongside strong fundamentals, Australia needs a cohesive narrative about why it should be on the radar for tech executives looking to set up new R&D labs. Developing that message involves highlighting our existing and emerging strengths to the right audiences. Austrade does much of this work already, and could be given more resources focused specifically on R&D attraction. To be effective, however, this effort should be combined with dedicated and coordinated advocacy targeting global tech firms. The appointment of a well-resourced innovation ambassador, with a mandate to attract high value R&D projects to Australia, would help. The position would need to be empowered and incentivised to source high quality deals offshore, and given license to generate or negotiate favourable local conditions to attract promising businesses.
More detail on this policy proposal can be found at startupaus.org/policy/ambassador
INCENTIVES TO INVEST
The key tools that governments at all levels would need to be prepared to use to begin to attract these projects at scale include:
- Facilitating access to favourable visa arrangements
- Providing access to state of the art R&D facilities or other physical space on attractive terms
- Providing ready access to world-class infrastructure, including ultra-fast internet
- Allocating dedicated case managers empowered to proactively resolve regulatory or administrative challenges associated with establishing each project
- Establishing regulatory ‘sandboxes’ for particular kinds of projects to facilitate testing and development
- Approving tax concessions and other one-off financial incentives
With strong and improving fundamentals, a focus on increasing Australia’s visibility and position in the market, and the right toolkit of incentives, Australia can position itself as a genuine contender for high-value R&D projects. Success in doing so could have far-reaching consequences.