R&D uncertainty stops quantum leaps, startup says


The reforms have been in the works since 2018 and the government re-introduced the policy to Parliament in December last year, after a Senate committee reviewing the proposal recommended to refine the rules to ensure they didn’t disadvantage smaller firms.

A spokesperson for the treasurer confirmed the changes remain on the House of Representatives notice paper for debate.

Mr Biercuk said that some reforms to the scheme were warranted to ensure it wasn’t exploited, though he warned the changes could hit the smaller end of town.

“I think the constraints coming on for the lower end of the sector, those are a bit overly aggressive. We should be supporting that sector more, not less,” he said.

Companies must also be assured there would not be future reviews of eligibility of past claims after several companies have complained of audits in the past few years, he said.

“Unless you say this will not happen again, it’s very difficult to know whether the decisions you make will be valid in two or three years.”

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Mr Biercuk is in Melbourne this week for innovation conference Pause Fest to share the growth story of Q-CTRL, a Sydney startup delivering software to businesses for working on quantum computing processes to reduce errors and build stronger products.

Quantum computing harnesses quantum physics to process information more efficiently, moving beyond the traditional way that computers store information in 1s and 0s. Q-CTRL launched a free version of its software, called Black Opal, in 2018.

Quantum computing has significant potential in a range of sectors from mining to medtech, though Q-CTRL’s client base is almost exclusively outside of Australia.

Mr Biercuk said the 34-strong business was keen to stay in Australia, but would only be able to do so if startup policy settings continued to focus on access to talent and encouraging research.

“Best case scenario is improved targeting towards research-intense early stage companies,” he said. “I think that framework should continue.”

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