(AU.Manufacturing) Michael Biercuk is a quantum physicist at the University of Sydney, and the founder/CEO at the VC-funded quantum startup Q-CTRL.
In this article, he urges the “rethink of Australian industrial policy”. This includes a rethink about university incentives and funding models, public sector research funding levels, government procurement, skills development and global skills attraction, among a list of other areas.
In the current environment, Biercuk said it is important to segregate the policies that address the acute health and economic crisis from those longer-term policy positions that can help position Australia for the decades ahead.
The Q-CTRL story is a microcosm of different policy interests. It has attracted blue chip venture capital investors from around the world – including Horizons Ventures, Sequoia, Sierra Ventures, Main Sequence, In-Q-Tel, Data Collective and Square Peg.
The company has attracted customers among the defence and intelligence agencies in governments offshore – the US – but has not yet sold its product into its own government.
It is not entirely self-interest about Q-CTRL that has Prof Biercuk lamenting government’s lack of procurement support for locally developed tech. He said this is a problem across the deep tech sector in Australia, and has called for “new funding routes and new funding mechanisms that facilitate better engagement with potential government customers.”
This is certainly true of quantum computing but could equally apply to other deep tech startups. He wants to see the creation of programmes like the SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) program in the US.
Biercuk said: “What is really missing is the bridge into the commercial side’.