If you think large corporations get involved in the startup space in an effort to latch onto the next Facebook, Tesla, or Alibaba, then think again, at least in the case of Australia's incumbent telco. According to Telstra's former CEO David Thodey, the communications giant set up its Muru-D accelerator to drive change within the parent company. "People think we were trying to find the next great new thing, it wasn't, it was all about the cultural change," Thodey said in a wide-ranging speech at the Hitachi Social Innovation Forum in Sydney last week. "We got young, entrepreneurial startups coming in with great ideas -- we'd put our engineers with them, and next thing we knew we had great ideas everywhere -- so it was more cultural." Due to the roll out of the National Broadband Network across Australia, it has been estimated that Telstra has an earnings gap of between AU$2 billion to AU$3 billion annually.
A bill to compensate taxi drivers affected by the legalisation of ride-sharing companies like Uber has passed Queensland's hung parliament late Thursday evening. In August, the government announced a AU$100 million assistance package including payments of $20,000 per taxi license, capped at two per owner, and AU$10,000 per licence for existing limousine service licence holders. As part of the package, the government also said it would invest AU$26.7 million into a hardship fund for drivers negatively impacted by the reform, which came into effect on September 5. Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe announced changes to the assistance package which include allowing compensation payments to trusts and companies that own taxi licenses, as well as sole operators such as drivers who lease a taxi off the license holder. Drivers classified as employees are excluded in the scheme. "It is expected the government will be in a position to send invitations to eligible taxi and limousine licence holders regarding the transitional assistance in December to enable payments shortly thereafter," Hinchliffe said.
The Turnbull government and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) on Sunday launched a AU$200 million fund, as part of its National Innovation and Science Agenda, to commercialise early-stage innovations from CSIRO, universities, and other publicly-funded research bodies. While Australia is above the OECD average when it comes to publishing academic papers, it lags behind in converting innovation into jobs and income. The CSIRO Innovation Fund will help address this by supporting co-investment in new spin-out and startup companies, as well as small to medium enterprises (SMEs) looking to transform publicly-funded research into commercial products. The fund will be headed up by veteran venture capitalist and co-founder of Blackbird Ventures Bill Bartee. The government will inject AU$70 million into the joint public-private sector fund over the next 10 years, alongside AU$30 million of royalties from the CSIRO's Wi-Fi patent portfolio, and an additional AU$100 million from the private sector, which Bartee will be in charge of obtaining.
The Commonwealth government has launched its new Cyber Security Growth Centre in Melbourne on Monday, and announced the appointment of Craig Davies, head of security for Australian startup darling Atlassian, as its CEO. Davies will officially take up the role of chief in early 2017, joining former senior vice president and group executive for IBM Doug Elix and Data61 CEO Adrian Turner, who were appointed as joint chairs for the centre in April. The centre will operate as a not-for-profit company and will be known as the Australian Cyber Security Growth Network Ltd when it officially begins in early 2017. With the global cybersecurity market worth $74.5 billion in 2015, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Greg Hunt said the industry-led centre will be responsible for driving the development of a "vibrant and globally competitive" cybersecurity industry in Australia, as well as ensuring Australian businesses can take advantage of the growing market opportunity in cybersecurity. "It will bring together industry, researchers, and governments to create a national enterprise that will provide the foundation for the development of next generation products and services needed to live and work securely in our increasingly connected world," Hunt said.
The Department of Human Services (DHS) has implemented an online compliance system that is using automation to help locate funds owed to the Commonwealth. Approximately AU$4.5 million that has gone awry is being pointed to each day by the online compliance system, allowing DHS to kick off the process to reclaim the funds. Before the new system, only AU$295,000 in missing funds was highlighted every 24 hours. The system has been in operation since July and is now initiating 20,000 compliance interventions a week -- a jump from 20,000 a year previously. Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge expects the system to carry out 1.7 million compliance interventions within the next three years.