Healthcare founder says R&D needs a rethink


This week, Oculo went live in the US after its expansion into the United Kingdom earlier this year. Dr Taylor said there is huge global potential for the tool.

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“Medical communication is pretty lousy the world over. This doesn’t give you continuity of care,” she said.

When it comes to Australia’s own innovation policies, however, Dr Taylor said there were gaps that needed to be filled. The company has claimed a tax incentive for research and development, which had been “incredibly useful in the past, though she said over the past few years the cost of preparing a claim was very high and the pay-offs for technology businesses were lessening.

“There is so much documentation required, the overhead to claim it is high. I think that’s the challenge of using it as a major policy for small-scale innovation— it’s not the best tool,” she said.

Concerns over the R&D tax incentive scheme have continued to bubble away throughout the year as startups point to continued concerns about audits and clawbacks related to the policy. The government also plans to revise caps on the policy, which allows businesses to claim a tax offset dependent on their spending on genuine research projects.

StartupAus and FinTech Australia have also pointed to the importance of certainty in the offsets in recent weeks.

Minister for Innovation, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said AusIndustry was running education programs across Australia to help startups and small businesses prepare their claims and helps them flag common mistakes so they can more easily self-assess whether they are eligible for the scheme.

“Startups are an important player in Australia’s innovation ecosystem and the government is committed to ensuring they and the broader community have access to the Research and Development Tax Incentive. We know this incentive provides important cash-flow support in early years,” the minister said.

Last week, shadow minister for innovation, technology and the future of work Clare O’Neil argued a more targeted approach was needed to back the sectors which would deliver economic gains for Australia.

“Startups and small businesses are often surviving week to week – that’s part of their journey. It’s clear to Labor that the [R&D scheme] isn’t working. It’s not achieving its goals and it needs urgent reform,” Ms O’Neil said this week.

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Despite a need for a policy rethink, Dr Taylor said she was optimistic about Australia’s ability to grow global startups.

“Australians are really innovative – we are really well-trained and great team players. People love working with Australians, so we are well positioned with all of those key attributes,” she said.

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