POSITIVE POLICY

Challenge Incentives for SMEs

Government purchasing decisions are too often steered towards acquiring well established products and services.  Conservative decision-making prevents Commonwealth agencies from engaging effectively with startups and SMEs.

This means that new technologies and the offerings of Australia’s innovative SMEs are often bypassed.

But with Commonwealth Government procurement worth over $48 billion per year, we should be encouraging departments and agencies to better engage with SMEs and startups, to drive innovation and help Australian entrepreneurs prove the value of their ideas.

Labor will trial an ‘AusGov Challenge Platform’ to engage all Australians in the challenges that face Government. Similar to challenge.gov in the US, this platform will provide a single portal for government agencies to submit challenges for the public to respond to.

The trial will initially engage a group of ten to twelve agencies that are seeking to identify new approaches to utilising data, technology and analytics to solve their policy and management challenges.

These projects – essentially competitions – will be managed through a centralised online platform, with agencies setting reward funding or prizes on the basis of the expected return to government from solving the problem.

In the United States, for example, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is offering $10,000 in prizes for the creation of a system to automate the identification of endangered right whales using a dataset of aerial photographs. At the other end of the spectrum, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs is offering $300,000 in prizes to create algorithms for identifying redundancies, gaps, conflicts and interactions among care-plan items and other data.

Labor will commit $5 million to establish the online challenge platform and build capacity in agencies that choose to participate in the trial. If successful, the platform will be expanded and the procurement rules and processes amended to enable the challenge platform to grow and adapt as agencies develop new, more complex challenges.

Further information is available here.