The recently announced May Budget for 2023 in Australia has made various commitments to support the growth of critical technologies and industries.
The Government has allocated $101 million towards supporting critical technologies, including quantum and artificial intelligence. While this amount has been criticised by the tech community as being insufficient to encourage meaningful development, the budget also includes $392.4 million for the Industry Growth Program to support small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) and startups to commercialise their ideas and grow their operations.
The program will provide advice and matched grant funding to startups and SMEs from $50,000 to $5 million with the aim of creating a pipeline of quality, investment-ready projects for the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund to consider.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ second budget also includes a small business cyber security program with $23.4 million in funding. The program will support small businesses to build resilience to cyber threats, which is important as small and medium-sized businesses are the target of 60 per cent of cybercrime in Australia, which is now costing more than $33.0 billion in reported losses annually.
In addition, it includes commitments to lock Australia into strategic supply chains, including critical minerals that will underpin future growth industries. This includes batteries that will drive the global energy transition and their innumerable uses in electronics.
The Government has also committed to the design and construction of a new nuclear medicine manufacturing facility while maintaining existing capabilities. Furthermore, $2 billion has been put aside for digital and ICT programs to deliver accessible, and secure services for people and businesses. The Government is continuing with the Consumer Data Right (CDR) scheme with $88.8 million to support the CDR in banking, energy, and the non-bank lending sectors.
The Budget has allocated around $58 million for the establishment of a National Anti-Scam Centre, with more than $17.5 million going towards fighting investment scams and phishing websites. Another $10.9 million has been allocated for an SMS Sender ID Registry to help prevent text message scams. A National Digital ID scheme also remains on the boil.
Chalmers claims that his Budget has a clear focus on ‘laying a foundation for future economic growth through investment in emerging technologies and new industries’. He outlined sweeping programs of industrial development, including the Industry Growth Program, which will provide advice and matched grant funding to startups and SMEs.
The program is aligned with the National Reconstruction Fund's seven priority investment areas and will expand the pipeline of investment-ready projects for the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund to consider in coming years.
While specific details of the operational elements of the new $392 million Industry Growth Program are yet to emerge, an industry department spokesperson has said that existing growth centres can be funded through it. The Government's end-to-end approach to shepherding high-potential companies through the industry support system is expected to maximise the return on taxpayer investment and provide a clear pathway for local entrepreneurs and researchers to commercialise their ideas and innovations in Australia rather than heading offshore.
Overall, the May Budget for 2023 in Australia has made significant commitments to support the growth of critical technologies and industries, as well as to lock Australia into strategic supply chains. The Government's focus on laying the foundation for future economic growth through investment in emerging technologies and new industries is likely to have a positive impact on the Australian economy in the coming years.
Paul Budde is an Independent Australia columnist and managing director of Paul Budde Consulting, an independent telecommunications research and consultancy organisation. You can follow Paul on Twitter @PaulBudde.
Support independent journalism Subscribe to IA.