Government considering new innovation fund

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Innovation minister Greg Hunt is exploring the value of a broader National Innovation Fund based on matching debt or equity, rather than grants, for mid-stage commercialisation.

Mr Hunt raised the idea in a  CEDA State of the Nation Address at Parliament House in Canberra yesterday.

During his address, Mr Hunt outlined the Turnbull government's policy priorities for innovation, such as the National Innovation and Science Agenda that includes the $500 million Biomedical Translation Fund.

He also raised the recently released R&D Tax Incentive Review report, which has recommended reform of the popular program and is currently open for consultation.

"The Australian Government is set to invest more than $10.1 billion in supporting science, research and innovation in 2016–17. The National Innovation and Science Agenda, NISA, will ensure the government maximises returns from this investment," said Mr Hunt.

"NISA is just the start of a long-term Australian Government plan to achieve our vision and secure Australia’s future economic prosperity.

"The agenda encourages Australians to not just have new ideas, but to pursue them, take a risk, learn from failure and excel in the global marketplace. It also recognises the importance of international engagement in an era of increasing globalisation and technological advancements.

"NISA is built around four principles: building the science culture and capital, strengthening collaboration, encouraging science and innovation talent and Government leading as an exemplar."

He then described the possibility of a broader National Innovation Fund as part of a second wave of reform designed to foster private sector investment in innovation and new infrastructure for science. Mr Hunt did not provide any more detail.