Coalition pledges funding boost for startup incubators

Turnbull earmarks additional $15 million for program

The Coalition has pledged additional funding for the government’s Incubator Support program if it’s re-elected.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced today that the Coalition would put an additional $15 million to the program on top of the $8 million already earmarked for it.

The Incubator Support program is due to begin on 1 July and operate under matching-funds arrangements.

The initiative was unveiled in December as part of the government’s $1.1 billion ‘Innovation Agenda’ and is part of the federal Entrepreneurs’ Programme.

In March the government released a discussion paper on the program, which outlined three areas for grants.

The initiative will fund new incubators in new regions or new sectors, provide funding to expand or enhance services offered by existing incubators, and help fund ‘expert in residence’ programs.

StartupAUS CEO Alex McCauley said welcomed the “modest” announcement.

“Funding for incubators and accelerators is important and many of our most promising entrepreneurs are going through these programs,” McCauley said in a statement.

“Incubators and accelerators provide valuable support structures to help founders skill up and succeed.”

Read more: Queensland govt funds ‘Startup Precinct’ project

McCauley said StartupAUS would like the program to be expanded to encompass co-working spaces as well as funding to help incubators, accelerators, and coworking spaces measure the performance of startups.

“It’s fantastic to see the government expand the funding to accelerators and incubators and recognise this vital part of the startup economy,” said Rohan Workman, the director of the University of Melbourne's Melbourne Accelerator Program.

Labor's Ed Husic, shadow parliamentary secretary assisting with digital innovation and startups, described the government's announcement as “innovation through imitation”.

The Coalition last year committed to spending $8 million on promoting the establishment of regional innovation accelerators but $30 million on the “Ideas Boom” advertising campaign.

“This mismatch in spending was a slap in the face to regional Australia – areas that could have reasonably expected greater support in their efforts to diversify the local economy in the aftermath of the mining boom,” a statement released by Husic said.

Labor last year said it would put $16 million towards establishing 20 startup accelerators over three years.

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