I was alerted to this article which tells of the Australian Government’s funding of 57 research projects to the tune of $3.6 million. Each of the projects was given $64000 to continue development of their projects.
The projects where in such diverse areas as online-training, animation and video-ad serving. Reading down the list I couldn’t help but feel that the vast majority of these projects are not in ground breaking areas, but rather seek to enter an already provided for marketplace. As one commenter to the article said;
Nothing seems new here – it is just a government hand-out to a commercial enterprise. I believe that if you can’t raise/work for $64k without a government hand-out, you most probaby (sic) shouldn’t be an entrepenuer (sic)
I’m a little torn by this comment. On the one hand I agree that it’s not the place of Governments to fund businesses in direct competition with existing suppliers. On the other hand, I heard about some pretty amazing research projects last week that, with a financial small leg-up, could go on to take on the world.
So clearly there are two things going on here – this was an emerging technology grant that clearly should be earmarked for truly emerging technology – a number of these businesses may be up-and-coming, but their product area isn’t emerging.
Having said that on a national and regional scale it is the role of economic development agencies to increase the economic activity in their area. Regardless of whether that economic activity comes from a completely ground-breaking product, or from a “me-too” offering is somewhat academic – it’s all about deriving revenue.
A lot of this relates to a project I’m involved in that will come out of stealth mode in the next few weeks. It’s a simple concept really, one that seeks to help businesses help themselves and others by providing a medium where they can question, communicate and collaborate with their peers – watch this space for some more information about that.
So – what do you think? What is the role of the Government in business building?