Innovation commitment advocated

A TWO-DECADE commitment and plan is needed for innovation and entrepreneurship to become a strong pillar in Tasmania’s economy.

Startup Tasmania vice-president and Bitlink managing director James Riggall said there was great potential for the state to excel in the technology and creative industry.

Startup Tasmania vice-president and Bitlink managing director James Riggall

Startup Tasmania vice-president and Bitlink managing director James Riggall

Mr Riggall said private companies had to be more innovative and governments needed to support experiential activity and develop a supportive culture.

‘‘It is one of the areas that has the greatest potential for transforming the economy in a positive way,’’ Mr Riggall said.

‘‘One job in a high innovation kind of company tends to support five jobs outside that company –  either supporting the company directly or just extra service industries.

‘‘You need new companies coming through and growing quickly to be able to create genuinely new jobs.

‘‘We can be very competitive compared to other regional locations around the world.’’

He said education to ensure people had the skills to create and manufacture new products and supporting new ventures were important for government.

The state government will contribute $500,000 over the next two years to provide mentoring, education and training for potential startups to turn ideas into commercial market opportunities.

Mr Riggall said there was interesting activity happening with innovation and entrepreneurship in ICT –  particularly technologies in supporting primary industries, health and boutique hardware.

He said Telstra-backed Muru-D business accelerator representatives visited Tasmania this month scouting for talent and investigating the state’s startup ecosystem.

‘‘Tasmania has a number of really valuable strengths as we have less degrees of separation than other places do in Australia,’’ Mr Riggall said.

‘‘If you look at the places that are know to be the entrepreneurial innovation ... there is a lot of activity, more access to venture capital funding, but it is harder to reach decision-makers and get collaborative projects off the ground.

‘‘Tasmania is also perfect for testing projects in a variety of demographic areas ... so if you can prove that something is going to be viable in Tasmania, chances are that it is going to be viable in just about every other place in the world.’’

He said several business accelerators and supportive culture hubs such as the proposed Macquarie House development in Launceston were required to assist entrepreneurs to develop their products and market them globally.

The Macquarie House technology hub received $3 million under Tasmania’s $100 million forestry peace funding and is undergoing value-for-money assessment.

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