Last week’s federal budget axed the Commercialisation Australia (CA) program (and a few others), saving $847 million from the public purse. It is to be replaced with a new $484 million scheme, the Entrepreneur’s Infrastructure Program (EIP), of which there is scant detail.
Hundreds of Aussie companies will be affected by the closure of Commercialisation Australia. (Over 500 have received funding over the past few years.) Not only will this stall their innovation & businesses, it will mean that less private funding will result. Over the last few years, most CA funding has attracted at least a dollar for dollar matching investment from angel or VC funds (often two dollars). While not for everyone, CA provided a platform for businesses to get going, and much needed advice (each business received an appointed AusIndustry officer).
When I ran my own startup I did not go for CA funding – there were too many hoops to jump through, and it took too much time to do all the admin. I had to get going quickly to take advantage of the emerging opportunities. But I know of many companies that have used the CA grant money as a lifeline for their fledgling business, and it’s sad to see it go. I spoke to one such business today and they were well into the process, and thought the whole thing had been a “complete disgrace”. It’s basically wasted almost a year of their time.
All this is strangely familiar. When Rudd’s Labor party came to power in 2007, they axed the previous system (Commercial Ready) and introduced Commercialisation Australia. Now the new mob have axed that and are bringing in their new thing, EIP.
I thus got to penning a short ditty in honour of CA’s passing… to be hummed along, and with humble apology to, Elton John’s Candle in the Wind…
Though I never knew you at all
You were important to many businesses
Who were just learning to crawl
They crawled out of the woodwork
And they whispered into your brain
You set them on the treadmill
And many changed their name
And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never knowing who to cling to
Til the next party blew in
And many got to know you
Though their businesses were kids
Your candle burned out long before
Your legend ever did