The government should solve current circumstances for a positive future

Federal Budgets are not only about bold and visionary futures of the economy. They must, as a first priority, ensure we are caring for and including our most vulnerable in the immediate term. It is possible to invest for the circumstances we find ourselves in now, while retaining a long term view of the horizon. Here is how we can improve outcomes for the future.


Recognition of the crucial role small and medium enterprises (SMEs) play in the strength of the Australian economy is critical. Relief measures via the Small Business Energy Incentive will help businesses shift to renewables while also lowering the cost of doing business through tax relief such as $20,000 instant asset write offs, and $1.5 billion for the Energy Bill Relief Fund.

In addition, investment in growing the SMEs focused on critical priorities through the Industry Growth Programs could also help emerging deep tech companies bridge the valley of death on their pathway to scaling. While details remain to be seen, aligning the program to create a pipeline of investment-ready projects for the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund should provide a clearer pathway for deep tech businesses to start, grow, and scale.

A systems not silos approach

The focus on energy transition is a good example of applying a systems, not silos, approach via a range of holistic investment initiatives. This includes investment in research and development (R&D) via $2 billion for Hydrogen Headstart, $12 billion of the Government’s $20 billion investment in Rewiring the Nation going to transformational transmission projects.

Also, a $14.8 million to establish the Powering Australia Industry Growth Centre to support Australian businesses looking to manufacture, commercialise and adopt renewable technologies, and up to $3 billion for low emissions technologies including green metals under the National Reconstruction Fund. Funding initiatives that span R&D, manufacturing, skill and adoption are systemic levers needing to be addressed for the sector to grow and flourish.

Reinvesting in critical industries

The continued focus by successive govts on AI and quantum tech builds on decades of R&D investments in the sector. The focus on development and uptake of enabling technologies in industry is the key to going beyond R&D to implementation. So a commitment of $101.2 million over 5 years to support uptake of these enabling technologies, starting with quantum and AI, will hopefully give confidence to industry to engage and be first adopters.


For the Aussie deep tech sector to thrive we must go beyond tertiary education and also revamp pathways through the VET sector, provide avenues for re-skilling, and pathways for skilled migration. Skills are mentioned over 48 times in the budget from diverse areas like transitioning industries (energy), frontier tech (AI and Quantum), health, AUKUS, and beyond.

Providing inclusive pathways for participation will be critical to ensure full participation in the economy and shared benefits across society. Future work must continue to build upon this and recognise that skilling and re-skilling sits across multiple agencies and sectors.

Build on what’s working and provide certainty

It’s important to note that while this budget does focus on economic relief and points towards economic growth, there are several critical reviews and task forces still to provide advice to the government on how we can match ambition with implementation.

These include the work on the National Science Priorities by the Chief Scientist, the Universities Accord, and reviews on the Robotics and AI strategies, to name a few.

What we need to see from both state and federal governments – both now and in the future – is a commitment to build upon what is working and provide certainty for community and industry to co-invest for the long term future we are collectively building.

Sally-Ann Williams is the CEO of Australia’s flagship deep tech incubator, Cicada Innovations.

Sally-Ann Williams, CEO of Cicada Innovations