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Import mentors to boost startups: report

AAP logoAAP 1/12/2016 Ethan James

Enticing experienced overseas entrepreneurs to mentor Australian startup companies is one of the keys to getting more emerging businesses off the ground, a new report says.

The success rate of Australia's startups - innovative, tech-focused young companies with the potential to carve out a global profile - is being hampered by isolation and a lack of access to expertise, the third annual Crossroads Report by entrepreneurs organisation StartupAUS says.

Eight in ten of the country's highly successful startup businesses were founded by people who had created at least one previous company, the report found, highlighting the importance of experience.

"We are geographically isolated from major markets, and despite having some world-class startups we still see many first-time founders learning by trial and error," Spike Innovation Director and report author, Colin Kinner said.

"We need to invest in startup founders and ensure they have the right skills and connections to compete globally."

Australia is ranked 17th on the Global Innovation Index but sits an underwhelming 30th amongst OECD nations for innovation efficiency.

The Australian Innovation System Report, produced by the federal government in 2015, found a lack of 'innovation culture' and access to venture capital during the early stages of the innovation cycle were two major hurdles for startups.

StartupAUS says an injection of seasoned entrepreneurs, angel and venture capital investors and advisors would give help the industry a leg-up.

It wants the federal government to develop an entrepreneur-in-residence program, focusing on major cities outside of Sydney and Melbourne where it says experience is critically lacking.

The report also calls on the federal government to increase the research and development tax incentive and pay it quarterly to early-stage start-ups.

Currently the incentive provides a 43.5 per cent tax offset for eligible businesses with annual turnover of less than $20 million.

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