Government seeking to remove barriers to start-ups wanting to pitch for ICT contracts


The Federal Government’s commitment to open up ICT contracts to ‘smaller players’ has received support from within the start-up community.  

Yesterday, Assistant Minister for Digital Transformation Angus Taylor called on the tech sector to submit feedback to the Commonwealth’s ICT Procurement Taskforce on how to make government contracts more accessible to start-ups and SMEs. The taskforce is expected to report back to Government in early 2017.

“We’ve got to let the outside in; government needs to be porous. We need to open up our ICT contracts to smaller players to solve Government problems,” the assistant minister said.

“How we work, how we buy goods and services, how we communicate, is being transformed by digital technology. Government is committed to improving the lives of all Australians through more effective digital services – the opportunity is too great to ignore.

“To capitalise on digital solutions in the private sector, we need to remove barriers for start-ups and SMEs who want to pitch their ideas and win Government ICT work.

“Procurement is the main gateway for the digital technology sector to provide solutions to government.

“This gateway needs to be open and streamlined so that new technologies can be deployed quickly to improve public services.”

The government’s announcement has been welcomed by Queensland start-up RedEye Apps, tech start-up advocate StartupAUS and Beanstalk Factory, which works works with corporates to inspire innovative thinking.

RedEye Co-founder and CEO, Wayne Gerard

“Yesterday’s announcement that the government will be encouraging procurement from start-ups and SME’s is a smart move and welcome step into the future of work. Working with start-ups has traditionally been viewed as a risky move for enterprise, but in today’s market the reverse is true. Innovation and disruption are largely being driven out of young dynamic businesses, so companies and government bodies are actually at a disadvantage if they’re not working with start-ups.

Within the Internet Of Things (IOT), for example, Gartner predicts that more than 50 per cent of solutions will come from businesses less than three years old. Acquisition and partnership opportunities with start-ups are an obvious step for enterprise. But on the more basic side of the equation, it makes sense for enterprise to open up everyday procurement channels.

Buying innovation requires different processes, often there aren’t three suppliers to get a quote from and the nature of the relationship needs to be more like a partnership than a traditional vendor relationship.

Introducing innovation procurement policy and relevant new project methodologies to work with start-ups and adopt new technology will be a key performance indicator for leading organisations in 2017.”

Beanstalk Factory Co-Founder & CEO, Peter Bradd

“It’s great to see government leading the way, as an example to other large Australian organisations, by opening up 10% of its annual $5.6 billion IT budget to innovative smaller companies that have traditionally been excluded from government projects. This has traditionally been stifled due to the complex and expensive government procurement processes. We know that start-ups excel at giving birth to successful proof of concepts and enterprise is much better at successfully scaling these. Working with smaller firms can provide a better outcome because small businesses are often more flexible to provide a fit-for-purpose product or service in collaboration with their clients. This is why it’s fantastic that Mr Taylor wants government agencies to work with the start-ups and smaller tech providers directly. This is a win for enterprise, start-ups and for Australia’s economy.”

StartupAUS CEO and Executive Director, Alex McCauley

“Government procurement and service delivery has huge potential to boost growth for start-ups. If it’s done well, this would be a big step forward for start-ups in Australia. To do it well, the government will need to make sure it is open to risk, and will need to be comfortable dealing with young fast-moving companies. That will require a big cultural shift, but we’re confident it’s possible