Australians urged to take risks in business

In December, the federal government will release an innovation statement aimed at overturning what some see as an inward-looking corporate culture, but some in the industry are sceptical about what it will offer.

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Chief executives in the industry are concerned Australians might be losing sight of what true innovation is, amid the chatter of start-ups and technology.

Since being sworn in, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said innovation is at the top of his agenda.

His changes included appointing 25-year-old Wyatt Roy as Assistant Minister for Innovation, and calling for Australians to abandon a fear of the future and technology.

The innovation rhetoric has been similar for past two months.

The CEO of Sydney start-up Local Measure, Jonathan Barouch, has raised concerns about “start-up fever” and the level of community optimism in the lead up to the announcement.

“I think the word start-up and innovation and disruption are being used interchangeably by people in the community and the media.

“And I think we risk misinterpreting what a start-up or what a true disruptive innovation is. I mean it’s not the butcher or the baker or the florist, they’re completely vital to the Australian economy, but those are small businesses,” Mr Barouch said.

He added that differentiating between small business and innovative business will allow for smarter policies.

Mr Roy says more talk about start-ups and innovation can only be a good thing.

“Innovation has obviously become a cornerstone of what we’re trying to achieve… If people are frustrated that we’re talking too much about innovation then I must’ve done my job, I’ve hit my KPI, and it’s a very good thing for our country,” he said.

During question time on Wednesday Industry Minister Christopher Pyne hinted at the shape of the policy.

Commercialising research and raising capital were listed high on the agenda, but equally important was his emphasis on a culture shift- away from fear- which would encourage Australians to take risks and build entrepreneurship.

“The whole purpose of the innovation and science agenda in December will be about creating the kind of structure in the Australian economy that encourages innovation, technology, research and development, commercialiseing research, talents and skills,” he said.