Labor pledges $ 1b fund for critical new technologies

Speaking to The Australian Financial Review on Thursday, Mr Husic said the incoming Labor government would seek to make up for the failure of the Coalition to a lack of assistance and incentives.

“So often with emerging technologies, Australians are recognized as being among the leaders of the pack, and then it is a drift that happens because there is a failure by government to send a signal of support or back in what’s being done, and people just wander off overseas. We want to be able to correct that, ”Mr Husic said.

“We are in a potential environment of tightening capital, so we need to ensure that the development of these technologies, and especially their application to the economy, still continues.”

Rather than setting the government up and running, it is likely the $ 1 billion will be operated as a “fund of funds,”

It is not set up as a start-up vehicle, and it will be targeted at companies of all sizes and ages, working in areas of critical importance for future economic growth.

While details of the fund’s operation are yet to be finalized, the Financial Review The NRF board understands that it is likely to be set up by the NRF board.

Michael Biercuk of Q-CTRL said Labor’s fund would help world-leading quantum companies grow in Australia. Jamila Toderas

Founder of Sydney-based quantum start-up Q-CTRL worth over $ 1 trillion over coming decades.

He said Australia had early years in the establishment of global commercial start-ups, which includes Quantum Brilliance and Quintessence Labs in addition to Q-CTRL, but is facing a dilemma in sustaining companies that transition from start-ups to scale-ups and need growth funding.

“Access to growth capital is a key challenge in a market whose VC industry is comparatively immature. For a long-time-horizon deeptech sector like quantum technology, funding for ongoing research and technology development will be critical over the coming years, ”Mr Biercuk said.

“But it’s not important to VC investment is. It delivers massive returns – if we structure investments right. ”

Mr Biercuk said the quantum computing arena gave Australia a chance to exert international leadership in a critical area, with Australian scientists having featured prominently in the most competitive international funding programs since the late 1990s.

“Our biggest threat is and remains brain drain. Structurally, Australia’s research advantages are offsetting its economic disadvantages for growing businesses – a smaller market, tighter restrictions on exports, and a less mature investor sector, ”he said.

“This fund will enable the tech sector to capitalize on a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make Australia a global tech powerhouse.”

Kate Pounder, CEO, Tech Council of Australia.

“The pull of Silicon Valley is ever present for top-tier Australian quantum companies, and many founders have already left to build overseas. Initiatives like this fund, from either side of politics, can be instrumental in offsetting the challenges that so often push us away. ”

Kate Pounder the chief executive of industry group the Tech Council of Australia said Labor would plan to play a major role in helping create a new generation of global technology-based companies, to rank alongside Atlassian, Canva and Wisetech Global.

“This fund will enable the tech sector to capitalize on a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make Australia a global tech powerhouse – provide secure, flexible, well-paid jobs for Australians and make Australia best place to start and grow a business, ”Ms Pounder said.

“Our success means that 2.2 per cent of the world’s tech unicorns ($ 1 billion-valued companies) have come from Australia, even though our share of global GDP is just 1.6 per cent. It shows Australia has shortages of importance, new industrial strength in our economy: software development.

”Now we need to do the same for the next generation of strategic tech industries. That is why we are particularly pleased to see the opposition’s investment will target key areas including quantum computing, artificial intelligence, robotics and software development. ”

Mr Husic said that it was important to make the announcement of the critical tech fund during the campaign to highlight the significant investments made by other countries in economy-boosting technology.

“Labor is determined to see that future economic growth is not held back because we have got our act together on the critical technologies that will be used to drive that growth in the years ahead,” Mr Husic said.

“We can’t afford the slow pace [of the current government]and we certainly can’t afford to lose our brightest minds by failing to provide a supportive environment. ”

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