Budget 2018: Australia announces AU$20m Asian Innovation Strategy

The Australian government has committed AU$20 million in funding for its Asian Innovation Strategy and AU$20 million for its SME export hubs as part of its Australian Technology and Science Growth Plan.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

As part of a focus on providing more opportunities for Australia to "compete globally", the federal government has announced a AU$20 million Asian Innovation Strategy under the 2018-19 Budget.

As part of its mammoth Australian Technology and Science Growth Plan, the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science will get AU$2.9 million in 2018-19, AU$4.2 million in 2019-20, AU$6.9 million in 2020-21, and AU$6 million in 2021-22 to implement the Asian Innovation Strategy.

"This strategy will expand eligibility for the existing Global Innovation Strategy grant program to support Australian businesses and researchers in all countries, and establish a new funding stream within this program focused primarily on Asia," the Budget papers explained.

"It will also extend funding for the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund for an additional four years. This measure will leverage co-investment by foreign governments to help Australian businesses take full advantage of strategic opportunities in Asia."

Similarly, the Australian Technology and Science Growth Plan will also provide AU$20 million over four years -- the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science will get AU$3.1 million in 2018-19, AU$4.8 million in 2019-20, AU$5.9 million in 2020-21, and AU$6.2 million in 2021-22 -- to establish a program for small and medium enterprise (SME) export hubs.

"The hubs will enable cooperation and boost export capability of local and regional businesses, through support to develop collective brands, leveraging local infrastructure to scale business operations, and positioning regional businesses to participate in global supply chains," the papers said.

"The government will also re-profile existing funding within the Industry Growth Centres Initiative to extend the requirement for the Centres to become self-funding from four to six years."

The government will then provide AU$100,000 in 2017-18 to "promote Australia internationally as a financial technology (fintech) destination" across services and products.

This funding will come from existing resources of the Department of the Treasury, and follows the federal government forming a fintech bridge agreement with the UK in March after the Australia Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) entered similar agreements with Dubai Financial Services Authority, the Abu Dhabi Global Market Financial Services Regulatory Authority, the China Securities Regulatory Commission, and Hong Kong, Japan, Ontario, and Singapore.

The government is also looking to modernise its international trade supply chain using AU$10.5 million in existing resourced from DHA in 2018-19.

"This will be underpinned by the completion of an initial business case to provide a 'single window' for international trade documentation, creating a system that is seamless, digital, automated and user-friendly," the government explained in the Budget.

The government is focused on international trade, having recently signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP 11 at the start of this year with Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Brunei, and Chile -- with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also pointing to interest from the UK, South Korea, Thailand, and Indonesia.

TPP 11 will take effect in Australia by the end of 2018.

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