Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Digital Innovation and Startups Ed Husic visited Maitland on Tuesday to push Labor’s plan for regional innovation.
The plan involves $16 million in funding for assistance and acceleration of startup businesses in regional areas. Mr Husic said Labor aimed to create up to 2000 new enterprises a year through providing university students with loans to build new businesses.
The party has also committed to provide an opportunity for school students to study coding, scholarships for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) graduates to become teachers, HECS debt write-offs for STEM degrees upon graduation and new visa categories for early-stage entrepreneurs.
With two thirds of new startups emerging from Sydney, Mr Husic said more needed to be done to support businesses outside capital cities.
“If we work together as a group between business, government, universities, we can actually drive growth in regional areas,” he said.
Mr Husic said areas like Maitland were important contributors to this growth.
“Any national innovation effort that doesn’t talk about what’s happening in Maitland isn’t a conversation worth having,” he said.
Mr Husic highlighted local startup business SmartSports Solutions’ app StatsOne as an example of great innovation that has occurred in regional Australia.
Created by Pierre Malou, StatsOne is a sports app that enables players to compare their statistics with peers worldwide.
Mr Malou said regional innovation played an important role in creating knowledge-based jobs in Maitland.
“It’s clear that this is something that Pierre is passionate about, which is how do we create enterprises here in Maitland, how do we create jobs for young people, and how do we drive economic growth,” Mr Husic said.
Labor candidate for Paterson Meryl Swanson said creativity in Maitland needed to be nurtured. She said this could be done through providing the right tools and support for startups and an NBN with more fibre.