"The forum will be a discussion with approximately 30 leaders from business as well as industry bodies across the digital economy in Australia, focusing on the key question of how Australia can maintain an edge in the growing digital economy.
The core objective of the forum will be to draw on the demonstration value of entrepreneurial and innovative companies that have been successful in the digital economy and to support others’ transition. It will also provide Government with an opportunity to consider how its policy and regulatory settings are creating incentives and enabling business to take advantage of the digital economy – and to receive your insights and perspective on these important issues going forward."
There will be 3 sessions on the day:
1. The success of innovative digital organisations: Identify examples and lessons of organisations that have been successful in the digital economy, and discuss the foundations that spur such success.
2. The opportunities and challenges of a digitally enabled world: Identify the opportunities and challenges facing Australian businesses created by ubiquitous high speed broadband, new devices, applications and services that together are fuelling “digital disruption”.
3. Thinking about work in the digitally engaged world: Identify the changes needed in the workplace to take advantage of the digital economy, in particular the skills of employees and the approach to work, including flexibility in time and location of work, consequent opportunities for productivity gains.
There will also be an opportunity to raise policy issues at the forum.
I'm going to spend some time preparing for this over the next week. I'd love to hear your thoughts on what you'd like me to raise and later in the week I'll post what I'm planning to discuss. As I've written before, on the whole I think the Australian government does an excellent job of supporting startups and the digital economy, but there are some key policy areas where I think improvements could be made, and these can slot under the 3 agenda items for the forum above:
1. Employee Share Option Plans
This excellent opinion piece in the SMH by Big Commerce co-founders Eddie Machaalani and Mitchell Harper describes the issues well.
2. Education - More People Studying Software Engineering
Hiring top software engineering talent in Australia is hard, there just aren't enough people studying software engineering degrees. We need better software engineering programs in schools to encourage more people to study this degree, then we need a lot more places at Universities for software engineers. As a country, we're investing a huge amount of money in the National Broadband Network, but without more software engineering graduates we're going to struggle to take full advantage of the network when it's built.
3. Support for the Venture Capital Industry
Raising capital as a startup in Australia is hard. We have a reasonable angel investment community, and US investors are willing to invest in larger Australian startups with funding rounds of $20m plus, but raising an amount of money between the $1m and $20m mark is much harder to do as an Australian based startup than a US or European startup. This is because we don't have a strong venture capital industry here in Australia. The Australian Government has provided good support for the venture capital industry through the Innovation Investment Fund, however my understanding is this program is unfortunately coming to an end.
I've love to hear your thoughts on the 3 agenda items, my 3 policy areas above and any other issues you'd like me to raise.