New Zealand Start-Up Scene 'Fastest-Growing' in Region; Australia's Budget Blasted for Scrapping Innovation

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By Reissa Su | May 21, 2014 12:51 PM EST

New Zealand's start-up scene was deemed better than Australia's. Richard Earl, the Australian managing director of recruitment firm Talent International, has criticised the start-up environment in Australia.

Earl has decided to appoint New Zealander Candace Kinser along with Apple Inc co-founder Steve Wozniak and Sir Richard Branson as a judge for the Talent Unleashed Awards 2014 which Talent International runs. Kinser is the chief executive of NZTech and she was recently appointed to the board of start-up Eroad in Auckland.

The five international winners of the competition will win a business mentoring workshop at the Branson Centre for Entrepreneurship in South Africa for five days, according to reports.

Earl has observed that New Zealand's ICT industry is the "fastest-growing" in the country unlike regional start-up scenes which includes Australia that is largely dependent on dwindling funds from the private sector.

In an open letter addressed to the start-up community in Australia, Earl blasted the Australian federal government Budget released just last week. He specifically mentioned the axing of Innovation Investment Fund and Commercialisation Australia, touted as the country's "primary start-up funding programmes."

He said the sentiments of the Australian start-up community are comparable to that of their counterparts in New Zealand, United Kingdom and Israel. Earl noted the scrapping of the Australian Interactive Games Fund which was established to support the computer games sector.

Kinser said New Zealand was more supportive of its start-up community and the country's success stories are testament to that. She added that Australia's Budget has affected start-ups and it was unfortunate they are not part of the higher agenda.

While Australia's Budget has mostly affected poor families, pensioners and high-income earners, New Zealand's Budget focuses on families. Australia has resorted to more budget cuts due to a debt deficit while New Zealand has announced a surplus for the first time in a long while.

Finance Minister Bill English has delivered a budget with a bigger-than-expected forecast, tax cuts and free doctor visits to over 400,000 children under the age of 13. The $1 billion allotted for new spending will mostly go to a $500 million package to benefit children and families. After Prime Minister John Key's budget speech, he said the budget was a "reflection" of the fact that the government has been working with the people to bring the budget back into surplus.

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