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StartupAus wants the Commonwealth to help primary students run their own business

StartupAus has published 10 recommendations in response to the federal government's Policy Hack initiative held last month, centred on fostering innovation and boosting Australia's startup ecosystem.

StartupAus wants to boost the country's innovation ecosystem by introducing a "Lemonade Day" to primary school students in an initiative that would see children own and operate their own venture, by way of a lemonade stand.

On Thursday, Australia's startup advocacy group released its report on the outcomes from the federal government's Policy Hack, and outlined solutions such as the lemonade stand initiative, saying it will boost Australia's innovation economy.

Policy Hack, one of the first initiatives run by 25-year old Wyatt Roy since his appointment as the Assistant Minister for Innovation in September, was initially described as a brainstorming session which saw attendees such as entrepreneurs, investors, industry, government, and interest groups, working in teams to create new government policy ideas.

Almost a month since Policy Hack happened, StartupAus' head of strategy and advocacy Alex McCauley presented 10 possible solutions it said will accelerate the growth of Australia's innovation ecosystem.

"This report provides a window into an area of economic policy which is of vital importance to Australia, but which is a bit opaque for a lot of people," McCauley said.

"At its core, innovation policy is about trying to create jobs and boost economic growth, by encouraging modern technology and flexible, creative business practices."

In addition, StartupAus suggested the connection of the country's startups with established enterprises through an innovation accord, an innovation precinct, and through the extension of the R&D tax incentive.

It also wants to improve social enterprise by creating a nationally coordinated "Academy for Sustainable Community" strategy that would be delivered locally across Australia. StartupAus said this would provide communities with the skills required to leverage digital inclusion and build social enterprises through the National Broadband Network.

StartupAus also wants to introduce a new stream into a startup incentive scheme to support founders entering accredited accelerator programs.

The startup advocacy group said it wanted to achieve gender equality by providing a AU$100 million government co-contribution fund for female-led ventures, and a "Champions for Change" program for men to support women by putting their "money and brand" on the line.

With a focus on intellectual property, StartupAus said it wants to keep innovation in the country as well as create incentives to attract capital to Australia. StartupAus also wants to enhance global awareness by creating startup "landing pads" in overseas markets such as San Francisco.

According to StartupAus, redesigning government practices, which it said are inherently biased towards larger enterprises, will open up government contracts to startups and will thus fix government procurement.

In a recommendation similar to that of Australia's chief scientist Professor Ian Chubb, StartupAus wants to see universities in Australia engage with the industry, which would include a funding increase of AU$300 million to encourage staff and student secondments in tech-based companies.

"The best businesses have always been innovators. It's time for Australia to embrace that innovation and seek to capitalise on the very great rewards digital technology offers," McCauley said. "That's what this hackathon was about, the best minds in the business helping to develop policies to modernise Australia's economy."

"Recently, we have really been able to feel a change in the national conversation about our economic future. Innovation policy is now front and centre.

"There are no silver bullets, and Australia is playing catch-up in this area. But we're starting to really build up some momentum and we're confident we'll see some very positive initiatives like these in the near future."