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Australia's Huge $1.1 billion Innovation Fund to Help Startups and STEM

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December 9
11:33 PM 2015

Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, has announced a huge investment of $1.1 billion innovation fund to help startups and STEM.

The National Innovation and Science Agenda, announced at Australia's science body in Canberra CSIRO on Monday, has been labeled as an "ideas boom" to move Australia forward after the "mining boom."

"Unlike a mining boom, it is a boom that can continue forever, it is limited only by our imagination, and I know that Australians believe in themselves, I know that we are a creative and imaginative nation," Turnbull said.

Mashable reports that, the government will investment $1.1 billion to incentivize innovation and entrepreneurship, reward risk taking and promote science, mathematics, and computing in schools.

The newly-led government will implement a five-year $51 million package starting in July 2016 to promote digital literacy. It will include national coding competitions, online computing challenges, ICT summer schools and support for teachers to implement the Digital Technologies curriculum.

The move is in stark contrast to cuts by the previous Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who slashed science funding in the 2014 Federal Budget. Turnbull ousted Abbott from the leadership of the conservative Liberal Party in September.

 "We are going to do this by promoting coding and computing and skills, to ensure they have the skills for the jobs of the future," Turnbull said.

A $48 million Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) literacy program will assist schools in keeping up with technology, while $13 million over five years will be used to encourage women and girls to get into the sector and remain there.

The government will also invest in science, with $75 million put towards the CSIRO's data research arm Data 61, $15 million over four years towards a $200 million CSIRO Innovation Fund and $10 million over four years towards a $250 million Biomedical Translation Fund.

For local startups the news is also good, with $36 million being devoted to a "Global Innovation Strategy," which will help Australian entrepreneurs looking to get a start in Silicon Valley and other leading innovation locations. An $8 million Incubator Support Programme will also assist in getting startups off the ground.

"Companies that embrace innovation, that are agile and prepared to embrace change confidently, are more competitive and more able to grow market share and more likely to increase their employment," Turnbull said.

Turnbull also announced that he would oversee a new cabinet committee for technology, innovation and science, which will sit at the core of the government and will be directly involved in policy making.

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