Prime Minister Announces National Innovation & Science Agenda

7 December 2015

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, along with Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne and Assistant Minister for Innovation Wyatt Roy, today released the Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, which outlines the Government’s approach to driving innovation in the economy. The statement represents the first major policy initiative of the Turnbull administration and commits $1.1 billion over four years to funding the initiatives outlined within it. The document’s release follows the Prime Minister’s promise to develop an agenda that places innovation at the heart of government.

Reminding the nation that there has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian, the Prime Minister outlined the need for reform by underlining the challenges faced by innovative startups in securing finance and Australia’s low rate of industry and research collaboration, the lowest in the OECD.

In welcoming Australians to the ‘ideas boom’, the Prime Minister highlighted the benefits of reform and said innovation will be a key driver of growth in a post commodity based economy. Mr Turnbull said he hopes to encourage a more entrepreneurial spirit and a greater readiness among Australians to take risks to invest in smart ideas. A key focus of the agenda will be to shift attitudes towards celebrating success, rather than penalising failure.


The Government has committed to delivering the following initiatives across four key themes of: Culture and Capital; Collaboration, Talent and Skills; and Government as an Exemplar.

Culture and Capital

  • Tax breaks for early stage investors, including a 20% non-refundable tax offset and capital gains tax exemption
  • Introduce a 10% non-refundable tax offset for capital invested in new Early Stage Venture Capital Limited Partnerships (ESVCLPs)
  • Replace the ‘same business test’ for calculating tax losses, with a more flexible ‘predominantly similar business test’
  • Allow for the depreciation of some intangible assets (like patents) over the economic life of the asset
  • Reform insolvency laws, by reducing the default bankruptcy period from three years to one year and allowing companies to trade during insolvency under certain circumstances.
  • Establish a new $200 million Innovation Fund to co-invest in the commercialisation of CSIRO research
  • Establish a $250 million co-investment Biomedical Translation Fund to commercialise medical research
  • Changes to existing employee share scheme (ESS) rules to make them more user friendly


  • An additional $127 million over the forward estimates for research block grant funding
  • Streamline and refocusing of research block grant funding towards collaboration
  • New measures for assessing the non-academic impact and industry engagement of  university research
  • Relaunch the Research Connections programme as Innovation Connections
  • Establish a new Cyber Security Growth Centre
  • $26 million in funding towards building a silicon quantum circuit

Talent and Skills

  • Introduce a new Entrepreneurs Visa and facilitate permanent residency for high quality STEM and ICT post-graduate students
  • $51 million for the promotion of STEM learning
    • Upskilling of teachers in digital technologies
    • Online computing challenges for Year 5 and 7 students
    • Targeted ICT and STEM programs for students in years 9 and 10
  • $13 million to increase female participation in STEM industries and startups through the establishment of role model programs
  • $48 million for the promotion of STEM based subjects and learning, including
    • Support for participation in international competitions
    • Engaging pre-schoolers in STEM based activities
    • Expansion of National Science Week

Government as an Exemplar

  • Establish a new Innovation and Science Committee of Cabinet, to be chaired by the Prime Minister
  • Establish a new independent statutory board, Innovation and Science Australia, reporting to the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science
  • Establish a new digital market place, through the Digital Transformation Office, to allow startups to more easily tender for government business
  • A new approach to government procurement through the Business Research and Innovation Initiative, which will call for tenders from small and medium enterprises
  • Default publication of all non-sensitive government data, on, in a readable and anonymised form
  • Expand PhD programs, through Data61, to ensure Australia retains a highly skilled ICT workforce

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