The NSW government has unveiled an innovation strategy that aims to foster a culture of entrepreneurialism both within agencies and also across the wider state economy.
Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Victor Dominello said the government was “opening the front door to entrepreneurs” to help address what he saw as the state’s “pressing challenges”.
“The digital age has transformed technologies, businesses and consumer expectations,” Dominello said.
“It is imperative that government agencies embrace new ideas and ensure that current and future policies reflect the disruptive age in which we live.”
Dominello said that the government would create a Ministerial Innovation Committee to oversee the implementation of the strategy and encourage agencies to embrace innovation.
The government will also make it easier for entrepreneurs to engage with the state, both to co-innovate and also to test new ideas.
One of the so-called “headline initiatives” in this area is the planned creation of a NSW Innovation Concierge (NIC) that will operate as a front door for entrepreneurs wishing to do business with the government.
“The NIC will include a ‘Shark Tank’ process in which select entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to pitch transformative ideas to relevant government advisers and relevant industry experts that seek to address pressing challenges,” the government said.
In addition, the government plans to create “regulatory sandboxes” to help businesses that are subject to strict NSW regulations to “test innovative new business models and technologies” without endangering their compliance obligations.
The government is relying, in the first instance, on industry to inform it of the “NSW regulations [that] have created barriers for testing an innovative product or service.”
The government said it would use this information to set up the first regulatory sandbox for NSW, as well as potentially others. The first sandbox is expected to open in early 2017.
Other parts of the innovation strategy focus on establishing stronger ties between the state’s universities and the government, and on securing the types of STEM skills that will be required by the state’s future workforce.
It also hopes to increase Sydney’s attractiveness as a start-up and entrepreneurial hub.
One of the key initiatives in this area is by setting aside $10 million from Jobs for NSW which will be put towards growing “the state’s network of incubators and accelerators”. A further $3 million is to be pumped into start-ups via “direct grants” in 2016-17.
The strategy is the result of a consultation process with the state’s innovation stakeholders.