Federal government releases intellectual property guidelines to spark collaboration

The Australian government has released a toolkit for collaboration aimed at outlining the best way to approach intellectual property in a collaborative business environment.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The Australian government Department of Industry and Science in partnership with IP Australia has released a toolkit for collaboration, intended for use by businesses, in particular small to medium enterprises (SMEs), public funded organisations, and individual researchers intending to undertake collaborative ventures.

The Australian IP Toolkit For Collaboration: Guide [PDF] was designed to simplify and improve the use and management of what the government has named as one of the most valuable outputs of collaboration -- intellectual property.

Although the toolkit confirms it is a guide rather than legal advice, it outlines practices on how to increase the effectiveness of collaboration, strengthen relationships for ongoing collaboration, and tackle intellectual property.

"Businesses can benefit from collaboration through translating business needs, concepts, and ideas into fit-for-purpose products, processes, and services for improving market competitiveness and growth," the toolkit said.

"They can also benefit from a raised company profile, and the potential for increased profit based on a competitive advantage."

In July, KPMG held a round table discussion on some of the common problems hindering the success of startups in Australia. It found the lack of trust between startups and enterprises, the lack of entrepreneurial culture within Australian businesses, and the lack of local funding for startups in comparison to the likes of the United States were all heavy-weighted concerns.

According to Benjamin Chong, Sydney Seed Fund general partner and Right Click Capital partner, the reason why so few conversations and collaborations between enterprises and startups happen is because startups do not trust enterprises with their ideas, and believe that enterprises will instead claim them as their own.

"Some [startups] are saying: 'The last thing I want is Mr Innovation from Commonwealth Bank and wanting to know what's underneath here, and then, voila, the next thing I know it's in the next iteration of Albert'," he said at the time.

Parliamentary Secretary for Industry and Science, Karen Andrews said the toolkit will help drive greater collaboration between researchers and businesses, which is critical to Australia's future growth and competitiveness.

"By providing guidance on how to develop partnerships and manage intellectual property, the government is equipping researchers and businesses with the practical tools that they need to collaborate," she said.

Earlier this year, not-for-profit organisation StartupAUS called on the federal government to provide support for the Australian startup ecosystem.

The StartupAUS' Crossroads 2015 report [PDF] outlined an action plan to develop a vibrant tech startup ecosystem in Australia, which includes creating an entrepreneurial and collaborative culture, a regulatory environment, sourcing experienced mentors, and giving startups access to technical skills and capital.

"What we want to do as StartupAUS is to transform the ecosystem, and to get that critical mass going so it becomes self-sustaining," CEO Peter Bradd said at the time. "The main message of the vision is if we want entrepreneurs to stay in Australia, they need to play by the same rules, at least, as their competitor in another country. Of course we want them to play better and have that competitive advantage, but we need to at least play by the same rules."

Bradd said there are several solutions that StartupAUS will be pushing. The first will be to change Australia's mindset to make the country understand that entrepreneurs are part of all industries, including banking, financial services, healthcare, agriculture, and viticulture.

"CEOs of those industries want to work with those entrepreneurs. They've got problems they want solving, and they want entrepreneurs to help them solve that."

Bradd said that once the local startup ecosystem is established, it will mean additional venture capitalists -- both locally and internationally -- will begin to invest more in Australian startups.

In August, the Australian federal government issued a consultation paper that outlined its draft crowdsourced equity funding (CSEF) legislative framework for public companies.

The consultation paper [PDF] discussed particular issues that would arise in any crowdfunding model for proprietary companies, and the potential democratisation of the venture capital model.

Rob Nankivell, CEO of Australian online crowdfunding platform VentureCrowd, believes all startups should have access to potential funding, as he said it should not matter about the classification of the company.

"Crowd sourced equity funding could play a vital role in their [startups] success if the pool of eligible investors was to grow either through legislation or a broadening of the existing qualifying investors via evidence of successful investor experiences."

The government hopes the legislation will also foster new startups in Australia by making it easier for companies to offer shares to employees.

Last year, technology was rated as one of the top three enablers driving Australia's AU$46 billion collaborative economy, according to research by Deloitte.

Deloitte Access Economics director John O'Mahony said at the time there were two main benefits of collaboration, with Australia's economic collaboration contributing to approximately 3 percent of the country's total GDP.

"By working together, people would save time and complete tasks faster, and by working together you could work more efficiently," he said.

The report also found there was still AU$9.3 billion of potential collaboration yet to be unlocked, placing pressure on Australian workplaces to be more collaborative.

In its 2015-2016 budget, the Queensland government committed to giving the state's startup industry a AU$24 million funding injection as part of the government's AU$180 million Advance Queensland initiative.

The intention of the funding was to increase the attraction of forming a startup in the state, and to build a "thriving startup culture", as only 7 percent of Australia's tech startups are said to have been formed in Brisbane.

"As a Government, we know that the real driver of economic change are entrepreneurs and ambitious businesses," Queensland Premier and Minister for the Arts Annastacia Palaszczuk said at the time.

"Every big corporate starts as an emerging business that took a chance; startups can reshape entire industries through technology and business model innovation."

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