Since Malcolm Turnbull famously went to the public with his Innovation Agenda in 2015, governments of all levels and political leanings in Australia have shown an increased interest in supporting the innovation ecosystem in Australia. Some governments have even injected tens of millions or even hundreds of millions into supporting growth in “innovation”, sometimes in ways that the sector is confused about or disagrees with. As with anything related to economic growth, which doesn’t fit nicely into constitutionally defined responsibilities, this is a complex landscape in which federal, state and local government all play, sometimes seemingly doing the same things. Alongside this, governments have been trying to bring themselves into the 21st century, and as those governments increasingly become consumers of the solutions created by the innovation and tech sector, startups want to know why they aren’t getting those big government contracts and how they can even get a foot in the door.
At Binary Shift conference in Gippsland 2018, I gave the closing keynote on this topic. The presentation consisted of an overview of the support landscape and focus on relationship building and management with governments, as well as the “Why?”.
I aimed to answer some of the questions startup founders and employees have about interacting with government, including:
What is the role of grants in funding startups? Do I qualify? Why/Why not?
How does government procurement even work and how do I get myself on one of these mysterious ‘lists’?
What the heck is an ‘innovation ecosystem’ and what is a ‘digital economy’? Do governments just make these words up?
How do I maintain positive relationships with government representatives and advisers pre and post any financial or other assistance?