The Federal Government this week released its innovation package which it hopes will spark an “ideas boom” across Australia. And while most commentary has tended to focus on high-tech industries and emerging technologies, it’s pleasing that the Government realises that ideas and innovation must also be fostered across traditional industries such as retail.

 Retail is already at the forefront of digital disruption and global change. While it has faced great challenges since the introduction of ecommerce, retailers who are now flourishing have done so by recognising and taking advantage of new technologies in order to grow alongside changing behaviours and greater consumer demands.

 I was pleased to be able to represent the retail sector at the launch of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, to give it its proper name. I’m also pleased to inform you that the National Retail Association has been invited to have an ongoing role in advising and supporting the “ideas boom”. It’s one we will take up with gusto, on your behalf.

 Some of the relevant highlights of the National Science and Innovation Agenda include:

  • Access to crowd-sourced equity funding
  • A Business Research and Innovation Initiative
  • Changes to Venture Capital Limited Partnerships
  • $30m Cyber Security Growth Centre
  • $36m Global Innovation Strategy
  • Increasing access to company losses
  • $8m Incubator Support Programme
  • Introduction of Innovation and Science Australia
  • Insolvency laws reform
  • Intangible asset depreciation
  • Reforms to Employee Share Schemes
  • Tax incentives for investors

A number of the promised measures will help drive retail entrepreneurship and growth, including tax breaks for capital investment in start-ups, the relaxing of government procurement procedures to all SMEs to offer innovative solutions, giving extra support for incubators for small businesses, and the creation of initiatives to promote collaboration between universities and industry.

The retail businesses of the future, which create jobs, economic growth and prosperity for all Australians, will rely on innovation being actively encouraged and facilitated by the government. So we congratulate them for focussing so much of this package towards fostering growth in the small business sector, which is essential for job creation and overall economic prosperity across Australia.

This package recognises that in order to remain prosperous in a changing global economy, we must put business, science, education and innovation at the heart of policy making now and into the future.