2017-18 WA State Budget - Summary for Startups and Innovators

Below are a summary of the figures and statements in the 2017-18 WA State Budget, directly relevant to innovation. Reviewing the budget, StartupWA's Top Ten policy recommendations become even more relevant, for at three reasons: 

  1. There are positive indications in some areas (e.g. engaging with local innovators to deliver better outcomes through government procurement, STEM education) that could be taken much further e.g. Innovation as not just a $17 million allocation, but as a core activity, allocation and opportunity across massive Departmental budgets, like Health, 
  2. The statements and budget allocations that seem to reflect questionable assumptions about the role and enablement of innovation in modern economies, and WA's future economic growth e.g. "From 2020-21, household consumption is set to take over as the main contributor [to economic growth] – in line with stronger labour market conditions and population growth."...but are we investing in diverse industries to earn export income?
  3. WA remains a lagging outlier in Australia in appreciating the scale of scope of the opportunities technology startup industry represents (predicted to be $76 billion, 25% of Gross State Product by 2025), and there seems to be little urgency in addressing the competition for talent with other States (e.g. Queensland) and Nations.

StartupWA will be engaging in further commentary, advocacy and advice to government about this budget, future budgets and their policies. We will focus on ensuring their spending and policies are informed by industry engagement and are effective in creating the local conditions, to enable the global success, for the ventures of tomorrow, that contribute to our state's prosperity.

You can access and contribute to our policy development online platform, by getting in touch

NEW initiatives in the 2017-18 Budget

Most points below are drawn from the Budget Snapshot and a review of the individual items within the budget papers. We've highlighted new commitments, rather than focus on existing/recurring commitments. Relevant services that continue similar to previous years include:

  • Funding for ICRAR, Scitech and Pawsey Super Computing Centre
  • Small Business Advice through the Small Business Development Corporation
  • Western Australian Business Migration Program
  • OGCIO to focus on Government Department's ICT policy and procurement

New Industries Fund

$17 million for a New Industries Fund to support new and emerging high tech businesses.

  • [$2.05 million in 2016-17 in “Innovation Grants” p106 of budget papers]

  • $6.7 million in 2017-18

  • $3.5 million in each of 2018-19, 19-20, 20-21

  • $4.5m of that total dedicated for new and emerging regional businesses as part of the New Industries Fund.

There are no details of this 'Fund' and the associated strategy and policy, however StartupWA has been engaging with Ministers, Departments and politicians to ensure there is industry input into the focus and structure of this program as it is developed.

Notably on page 109 there is no forecast private contribution to Innovator of The Year. This could be either just not forecast as income, or an indication that there will be changes to the program. 

STEM education

$2m for the integration of coding into teaching and engagement with the Federal government to introduce coding activities into the WA curriculum.

$900,000 to establish a Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) Advisory Panel to ensure there is a job ready local workforce to capitalise on new jobs.

  • $250k each year 2017-2021

Government says: "The Government has established a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Advisory Panel chaired by the Chief Scientist. The panel, made up of industry experts, researchers and educators, will develop a State STEM Strategy (the Strategy). The Strategy will map Western Australia’s STEM workforce, highlighting strengths and gaps in skills and expertise, and identify STEM growth industries."

"Science and technology are central to diversifying the State's economy and creating the jobs of the future. Encouraging new industries and innovation, reducing barriers to business growth and attracting investment will create more jobs for Western Australians."

Support for Industry to supply to Government through Procurement

$4.2m will be invested to establish an Industry Participation Advisory Service to support small and medium business to compete for Government contracts.

  • $1 million each year 2017-2021

Government says: "The Government spends billions of dollars every year running schools, hospitals, public transport systems, and building critical infrastructure and delivering services across the State. The McGowan Government's Jobs Law will mean local businesses are given every opportunity to compete for this work and are provided appropriate support to do so. “My priority is to ensure that through our new Jobs Law, more local businesses will have the opportunity to bid for this body of work.”


StartupWA Top Ten Policy Infographic Credit: Ammo Marketing