20 Suggestions To Kickstart a 1000 Startups – Open Letter To Prime Minister Turnbull

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The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull, MP Prime Minister of Australia


Dear Prime Minister

Finally we have blast off.

Congratulations Sir, I think I probably speak for most of the Australian Startup community when I say I am pleased to have you as our new Prime Minister.

As far as I’m aware you are the only member of Parliament that has actively been involved in a tech startup that went onto major success and exit and it feels like you are one of the few in Government that understands the difference between a tech startup and a small business.

Some months ago at a speaking gig at Fishburners incubator in Sydney you asked for suggestions on ways we could accelerate the creation of a new wave of startups and STEM based businesses.

You may know I have shouted into the wind for most of this year about how as a nation we could “Let a 1000 Startups Bloom” and how we could create our own moonshot, quests for greatness and domination in particular fields.

I ask that you focus on the end result, that is launching successful STEM based companies rather than the inputs, education and research which generates the most noise.

Australian’s want massive commercial success from their STEM community and our massive investment in Research, but our STEM community is focused on the mechanics of Research and Academia not on commercialising their efforts.

Commercialisation is where we should focus.

Here are my suggestions to help launch 1000 Startups:


  • Pick 5 top STEM based Nation Building Priority areas for Commercialisation & offer Startups aggressive non competitive funding to attack the problems.
  • Essentially fund anyone to have a shot at these problems.
  • Some suggestions:Renewable Energy, Food, Agtech, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity, Robotics, UAV, Space, Security, Medtech/Devices, Power & Water Management.


  • Formulate a Mini Budget before the end of the year specifically for Innovation & Startups to enable the following.
  • Create effective crowdfunding laws that mirror the USA, virtually no restrictions on # of investments or size.
  • Extend Early Stage Venture Capital Tax Free Status to Angel Investments.
  • Allow formation of Angel Syndicates with Early Stage Tax Free Status.
  • Extend ASX No Liability Mining Company legislation to Startups. After all Mining Explorers were the startups of our last boom and the no Liability regime has been directly credited to driving investment and growth in the mining sector in the early part of last century.
  • Non competitive grants for equipment, components, lab work and cloud computing time.
  • Free office/lab rent for startups working on the nominated National Priorities for 1-2 years.
  • Create a Startup Living Wage Allowance for 1 year to let entrepreneurs get their startups off the ground (The Raman Wage).


  • Give us your old buildings to renovate so we can give startups somewhere to launch in each capital & regional city.
  • In particular save the Australian Technology Park at Redfern from being eaten by a horde of Commonwealth Bank workers – Please start by signing Atlassian’s Mike Cannon-Brooks Petition to save the park here .
  • Provide open access to advanced Fabrication and Bio/Med Lab facilities that already exist and identify shortfalls in other facilities and either build or rent capability for startups.
  • Create an Open Access Scheme to enable entrepreneurs and scientists who are not attached to a University to access the resources and facilities they need to create new businesses.
  • Give us old workshops & depots to create specialised labs for Electronics, Medtech, Biotech, Drones/UAVs .
  • Support Access to a CASA approved airport so the startups launching Drones, Space & UAV businesses have somewhere to work from.
  • Startup Precincts created in every major city and regional centre co-located with University Campuses.


  • Keep doing what you are doing with CSIRO – They have some promising new Startups including a potential Unicorn.
  • Provide Non competitive Fast Track Founder Visas & 457 Exemptions.
  • Provide Fast Track Visa Grants for Graduates & Post Grads & Inventors.
  • Every Foreign Grad & PhD that graduates from an Australian University should have a Visa stapled to their degree.

Focus & Ease of Doing Business

  • Create a new Portfolio – Innovation & Startups and give it to Wyatt Roy. Yes I know he is young but he seems to get it and is keen and not tied down by existing politics. Launching 1000 Startups is too important to fall between the cracks. Keep Science & Industry separate if you want to launch 1000 Startups. If you don’t believe me that Startups and Innovation are falling between the cracks read the Govt response to Chief Scientist report & see if you can spot the startup strategy. Hint you can’t because its absent.
  • Join R&D and Commercialisation Activities Grants and Rebates together for one cohesive strategy.
  • Standardised docs & terms for spinouts from Universities & Government funded orgs (CSIRO, NICTA, DSTO etc).

These are my suggestions, the startupaus community is keen to do anything which will help drive the creation, funding and growth of startups and we will actively engage with Government to help drive that goal.

Yours Faithfully

Mike Nicholls


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