Budget 2023 provided $392 million for an Industry Growth Program to maximise the return on taxpayers’ investments and provide a clearer pathway for entrepreneurs to develop businesses for later consideration by the government’s $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund. By Roy Green.
The new Industry Growth Program is a modest but well considered recognition of the importance of continuing targeted grant funding to support business growth and technology development in Australia.
The intention is to supplement the National Reconstruction Fund’s co-investment strategy in a way that aligns with the government’s new manufacturing priorities.
Significantly, this initiative supersedes the previous government’s approach to the Entrepreneurs Program which was heavily criticised by the audit office.
And it potentially offers a new lease of life for the Industry Growth Centres, albeit through service provision rather than operational funding support.
As always we must await further detail on funding criteria, including the role of research and education institutions in helping to drive a collaborative approach to industrial transformation.
With limited public resources, the emphasis has to be on ‘additionality’ rather than funding business as usual.
(Additionality is the concept that funding should go to projects that would not have occurred without government intervention, rather than funding projects that would in any case have attracted private funding – Ed)
No doubt there will be further opportunities in the future for the much needed development of Australia’s research and innovation system.
This will be the key to creating long term growth and jobs.
Emeritus Professor Roy Green is the Special Innovation Adviser, University of Technology Sydney.
Picture: Roy Green