April 15, 2024

A woman looks at her phone screen while working from her computer. Source: Unsplash/Bruce Mars.
The federal government is looking to introduce a new startup loan program for young entrepreneurs wanting to get their business ideas off the ground.
Dubbed the ‘Startup Year’ program, it will offer 2000 loans to students who are either in their final undergraduate year, in post-grad studies or are a recent graduate.
If this scheme sounds familiar, it’s because it was first proposed by Labor back in 2015.
The loans themselves will be for up to $11,300 and will run through the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP). As a reminder, you don’t need to start paying back EHLP debt until your taxable income is above $48, 361. Here’s hoping your startup is so successful you can afford to pay it back sooner rather than later.
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Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic announced the revitalised proposal at the UTS Startups Space on Thursday.
“We want our next generation of businesses to grow from the ideas and energy of young Australians. And we want Startup Year to help make that happen,” Husic said in a statement.
“By expanding access to vital capital and startup programs, we will help diversify the talent and skills pipeline so that new ideas can come online from all corners of the Australian community.
“It will strengthen links between our universities, industry and the startup community, leading to greater research translation and commercialisation.”
Australia is increasingly becoming a hotbed for startups over the last few years and a large number of accelerator programs already exist.
At a university level, the proposal paper reveals that UTS is already home to 490 active student startups that have access to mentorship, internships and in-subject projects.
Minister for Education Jason Clare says the program seeks to add to the resources and knowledge already available for university students wanting to start a business.
“The higher education sector has wonderful incubators and startup support schemes, but are limited by the number of students they can take on board,” Clare said.
“By working in specialist higher education settings these new entrepreneurs can gain access to resources, facilities, mentoring and business networks.”
The Startup Year consultation paper points to Australia falling behind in innovation investment as one of the key motivators behind the program.
“Australia has a world-class research system, with universities providing a bedrock for creation and innovation. However, Australia has been falling in the Global Innovation Index — which measures science and innovation investments, technological progress, and socioeconomic impact — from 17th in 2014 to 25th in 2021,” the paper reads.
“While Australia is the home to some of the world’s most successful startups and brightest minds, more can be done to deliver government policies that support innovation and entrepreneurship at the higher education and startup level.”
The Startup Year proposal will now enter a six-week consultation phase that will wrap up on November 15. It is seeking responses to help shape the program from relevant industry parties such as universities, investors and student entrepreneurs themselves.
The federal government is hoping to commence the program in July 2023. It’s yet unclear if this will be a full rollout or as a first-year pilot phase.

Why not earlier than university? We underestimate our youngsters! Unleash the year 6-12 kids, their imagination and digital prowess, for me, see them as the best-placed people in our society to have a crack at coming up with ideas for our problems, challenges and opportunities. Let’s back them!
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