Grow Queensland: Innovation to Drive Small Business

Wednesday 22 November, 2017 | By: Joseph Kelly

Growing Queensland means creating the best environment for Queensland small businesses to thrive, innovate and expand their business ventures both physically and virtually.

In the past when small business hears “innovation”, it assumes start-ups or laboratories and high tech breakthroughs within science faculties of universities. As referenced in The Ideas Advantage, CCIQ has long called for there to be a modification to the language and culture of innovation to make digital adoption, new ways of working and thinking accessible and relevant to small and medium business. 

As part of this election campaign, we have asked for there to be a reorientation so Queensland small businesses are better able to understand that innovation can apply to all businesses no matter what stage they are at in their life cycle.

To date, several policy commitments have been made by all parties, affirming their commitment to an innovative small business sector in Queensland.

ALP Queensland

Advance Queensland

During the Labor Party’s tenure in government they launched Advance Queensland, a $420 million initiative to drive innovation for startups which included a program of grants and support services, some of which were aimed at linking industry and academia. With its heart in the right place, Advance Queensland is a fundamentally good initiative.

The Labor Party has announced a further $93 million for Advance Queensland over three years. CCIQ hopes that some redevelopment of programs will occur to allow all small businesses to be supported by Advance Queensland, not just startups. This will allow them to become more resilient, access global markets, take advantage of digital disruption and invest in the future. CCIQ is very keen to see the results of the investigation into using spare capacity on the Government owned fibre network to create faster internet for regional Queensland, recently announced by Leeanne Enoch.

The commitments include:

  • “Re-investing in Ignite Ideas program.” $30 million over four years.
  • “Establishing a Regional Start-up Onramp Program to deliver 12-week training programs giving aspiring entrepreneurs the skills they need to launch and grow their company.”
  • “Creating pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander innovators to turn their ideas into reality.”
  •  “Commit $15 million from the Jobs and Regional Growth Fund to the Sunshine Coast Council’s game-changing Sunshine Coast International Broadband Submarine Cable Project.”
  • “Provide grant support to enable female founders and researchers to remain connected to their industries.”
  • “Committed to exploring the opportunity to unlock spare capacity in the Queensland Government-owned fibre network – which stretches over 4,000 kilometres – to deliver faster and cheaper internet access for regional Queensland.”

Tourism Boost

The Labor Party has made a commitment of $48 million towards creating an Attracting Tourism Fund. The aim of the fund is to provide incentives to attract more airline and cruise ship tourism into regional Queensland. Based on the success of the Attracting Aviation Investment Fund, the Tourism Fund will hopefully provide opportunities for regional small tourism businesses to directly engage in partnering with airlines and cruise ship operators to bring more tourists into their regions. There will also be an indirect benefit to local communities and small businesses as a result of increased tourism. This initiative coupled with the $36 million commitment over the next four years to create a Regional Tourism Infrastructure and Experience Development Program will give small businesses the funding to invest in projects, program development and digital capability.

Queensland Made

Manufacturing is a key industry in Queensland. 93% of manufacturers in Queensland are small businesses. When the Labor Party announced their commitment to Queensland manufacturers CCIQ welcomed the commitment.

The policy detail:

  • “Commit an additional $20 million to the Made in Queensland grants program to support our manufacturing businesses to become more internationally competitive and create additional jobs.”
  • “Provide an additional $20 million to the Advance Queensland Industry Attraction Fund with a broadened focus on companies moving manufacturing activities to Queensland.”
  • “Establish manufacturing hubs to drive regional economies, initially in Cairns, Townsville and Rockhampton.”
  • “Continue the Buy Queensland procurement policy to ensure local manufacturers.”
  • “Deliver up to $10 million towards defence supply chain logistics hubs in Townsville and Ipswich.”

Overall, the Labor Party’s small business innovation policy suite is aimed at targeting certain industry sectors, predominantly tourism, and manufacturing. The continuation of Advance Queensland will be a positive for Queensland small businesses if the programs and grants become more inclusive of businesses at all stages of their lifecycle, or are redesigned to get bigger bang for buck.

Liberal National Party

The Liberal National Party has released several policies during the election campaign with innovation programs and commitments featured throughout.

Services, Sciences and Technology

In the past week, the Liberal National Party released their Services, Sciences and Technology policy. Much like the Labor Party, they too have committed to continuing the funding of Advance Queensland into the foreseeable future. CCIQ would again provide the same advice to reorientate the programs and grants to ensure all businesses can capitalise on the benefits of innovating their services and/or products.

Excitingly a dedicated $2 million for incubators and start-ups has been committed under the policy with a focus on entrepreneurship.

The Liberal National Party has also committed to creating mining equipment, technology and services hubs in regional Queensland. Hubs in regional areas is a great way to encourage small businesses to collaborate and capture greater local market share. These hubs would hopefully be able to form clusters and tender for government projects together.

Manufacturing again receives support, with $3 million dedicated to boosting the industry in regional areas. CCIQ is pleased to see both major parties recognising the importance of Manufacturing industries in Queensland, which contributed $20 billion to the Queensland economy in 2015/16. CCIQ has long advocated for improved manufacturing policy in Queensland and welcome the commitments. There will be a focus on business resilience in disaster prone areas, a welcome commitment and acknowledgment of some of the additional barriers regional businesses face.

Digital infrastructure is also acknowledged as a must for regional Queensland, with the Liberal National Party committing to “improving WiFi access to promote our key tourism destinations”, “with a $3 million investment to roll-out over 500 hot spots.”

Under its Getting Queensland Back to Business the Liberal National Party have also re-committed to their Buy Local Price Match Guarantee Policy. Both Major parties have developed and support local procurement policies which give small businesses greater opportunity to be awarded government contracts. A recent ReachTEL poll conducted for CCIQ showed 65 per cent of the 1500 businesses surveyed supported assessment criteria for government procurement favouring local Queensland businesses. CCIQ has been lobbying for procurement policy which assist small businesses, most recently in our State Budget Submission 2017/18 and our Red Tape report.

Whereas the Labor Party committed $48 million to creating an Attracting Tourism Fund, the Liberal National Party has committed to a further $10 million into the Attracting Aviation Investment Fund. They have committed $4 million to be quarantined for regional destinations only. They have also committed to several other tourism policies which fall outside the scope of innovation.

Under the Construction and Manufacturing policy, the Liberal National Party has made strong commitments to further hubs, centered around Defence industry.

  • “$5 million to develop, implement and execute - in partnership with industry - a dedicated Queensland defence assets export plan.”
  • “$8 million to facilitate supply chain depth and development through strategic alliances and partnerships together with networking and trade opportunities.”
  • “$10 million to develop a strategic cyber warfare and cyber security capability amongst key Defence Industry Primes, SMEs and Queensland Universities.”
  • “$7 million to support Queensland SME product development and supply chain capability, readiness and integration.”
  •  “$5 million to create and support the work of the Queensland Defence Industry Advisory Council.”

With innovation and use of technologies, CCIQ is pleased to see the recognition of cyber security as an area of importance. In the digital economy, small businesses needed to be armed with the best protections to ensure their businesses are able to function.  Overall, the Liberal National Party has a good suite of policies to support small business growth through innovation.

One Nation

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party, in their Policy Handbook: Economic Development, have committed to developing and executing decentralisation of the Queensland Government over ten years into “regional model government”. They also support buy local policies.

As mentioned above, CCIQ supports buy local policies, however would wish to see greater detail of the interpretation of ‘buy local policies’. CCIQ was also supportive of decentralisation of government agencies in a recent submission to the Federal Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee. CCIQ would watch the development of policy to decentralise elements of the government with much interest, knowing the economic benefits it can have for regional areas, however hold reservations about a completely decentralised, regional government model.

Summary

The Greens and Katter’s Australian Party to date have made no apparent commitments to small business growth through innovation.

In sum, CCIQ was seeking the following commitments:

  • Allow for small business clusters and partnerships for government tenders.
  • Develop innovation policy that encompasses all components and industries of the business ecosystem.
  • Target innovation strategies towards regional industries.
  • Provide infrastructure to allow business to grow and innovate.

Both major parties have committed programs funding towards business start-ups and will hopefully heed CCIQ advice in ensuring the full business spectrum is able to access innovation grants and support. Both major and minor parties have focused on regional areas as fertile ground for innovation and small business growth, with manufacturing and tourism industries being specifically targeted. Overall the policies on offer are aligned to provide opportunity for Queensland small businesses to innovate and grow in Queensland.

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