By Martin Bliemel, Senior Lecturer at UNSW
If you’re a startup entrepreneur in Australia, hopefully, by now, you’ll have seen our social media campaign asking you to to participate in a survey that will inform innovation policy. Hopefully, you’ll also take the 10 short minutes to complete the survey.
This survey is aimed at reviewing the myriad of support organisations for entrepreneurs, how well they work, and then seeing if there’s a way for the government to amplify good support.
Yes, this is about accelerators. Yes, this is also about other support organisations. We want to know how you’ve been supported by incubators, co-working spaces, mentoring programs, structured workshop series, angels or angel groups. If you’re a DIY entrepreneur, we’ll also want to hear from you, to hear your thoughts on why you remained ‘independent’.
The ‘big’ questions we are looking to answer are: what impact have these organisations had on participating startups and the broader ecosystem, what impact they are aiming for, and can – or should – their impact be amplified through innovation policy?
This project is run by UNSW and funded by the Australian Department of Industry, Innovation & Science, who are interested in the policy implications regarding startups and and the organisations that support them. The emphasis is nominally on accelerators, but remains inclusive of organisations that provide co-working space, mentoring, seed capital, or structured workshops.
These questions are relevant to policy, to startups, their supporting organisations, and spillover industries, who are lacking data. This project is not only inclusive of a diverse range of support organisations, but also of startups that have blazed their own trail. We also need a comparison set of startups that have not drawn on support organisations, i.e., independent startups.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Department of Industry, Innovation & Science (DIIS) have some important decisions to make on how to make Australia globally competitive. I expect that they will look for supporting evidence of what is working, both here and overseas, to try and leverage that, before re-inventing wheels.
Both this survey and the report due in a few short weeks aim to provide that evidence. Along the way, they will also provide an impartial summary of different types of support organisations, including what their business models are and what performance metrics – and timescales – are relevant to them.
The challenge Canberra is facing today is that it has some data and a steady series of reports on how to help startups (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015). But there is a clear need for data regarding the organisations that support startups and create the fabric of the ecosystem between startups. Y-Combinator and accelerators certainly come to mind. From their perspective, it can take years to evaluate their performance. In the meanwhile, they’re supporting startups and hopefully creating a more experienced and smarter set of entrepreneurs, who are more likely to succeed with each startup. The thing is, we don’t even know if that’s the case, other than a few anecdotes.
This is where we need you, entrepreneurs, to find out
(i) who helped you,
(ii) how did they help,
(iii) did their help actually help (and how)?
All we’re asking for is approximately 10 minutes of your time to answer a 16 question survey here and help spread the word, too.