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National innovation agency and relaxed visa rules among recommendations to develop startup ecosystem

Posted on April 27, 2015
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Australia still lacks the required conditions for a successful startup ecosystem, according to a report released today by peak not-for-profit group StartupAus.

While there is an explosion of startup activity globally, the second annual Crossroads report says it will take several years and bipartisan support to create the right environment for the Australian startup sector.

At the moment, the ecosystem is hampered by issues ranging from education and expertise to access to capital and regulatory environments.

The report recommends establishing a national innovation agency as well as relaxing visa restrictions in the next one to two years so local companies can hire skilled overseas ICT workers to meet the skills shortage.

In the medium to long-term, the local ecosystem needs an injection of young talent in order to boost the number of Australian entrepreneurs. This is critical because – despite the stereotypical view of startup founders being in their 20s – Australian founders are largely in their 30s and 40s and an individual’s risk-tolerance generally decreases over time due to family and financial pressures.

To address this, the report recommends supporting scholarship programs and student startup incubators so that more young people are aware that building startups is a viable career path.

Founder and chief executive of Blue Chilli, Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin, told Startup Smart he thinks the biggest thing the startup community needs to build the right ecosystem is awareness.

“We need to make the community outside of the startup ecosystem more aware of what we’re doing so startups become part of the Australian ecosystem, not just the startup ecosystem,” he says.

“The best thing we can do as entrepreneurs within the ecosystem is be awesome and tell everyone about it. The more stories we have the more people will be inspired to come join the community, the more venture capital comes our way… It’s time to get out of the bedrooms and into the streets and tell people what we’re doing.”

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