News Pulse for October 11, 2016

A daily download of SME, startup, fintech and tax news from around Australia.

VET funding list met with optimism, but experts say government needs to think about the future of work

Australian employers and students will have time to consider the federal government’s proposed changes of funding to the VET sector this week – but experts say there must be a sharp focus on the skills the country needs in future if the sector’s reputation is going to be properly restored.

The government released details of its proposed overhaul to the VET space last month and today has released a list of 347 courses for public consultation that it believes will ultimately be eligible for funding support under a new VET loan scheme.

Digital boosting small business productivity: Deloitte

Many Australian small businesses have reached an advanced level of digital engagement and are much more likely to be creating jobs and growing revenue than their counterparts who are less digitally engaged.

A new Deloitte Access Economics report on the small and medium business sector for Google reveals that SMBs well advanced digitally are 1.5 times more likely to be growing revenue, easily outstripping small businesses that have just “basicAustralian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is Australia’s corporate, markets and financial services regulator. asic.gov.au” digital engagement.

Melbourne startup Room Xchange offers users rent-free accommodation in exchange for completing chores

A Melbourne entrepreneur is set to launch a new platform offering users rent-free accommodation in exchange for helping out around the place.

Room Xchange founder Ludwina Dautowic says the platform will be similar to Airbnb, but instead of paying for the accommodation, users will complete chores around the home instead in exchange for food and teh room.

“The Room Xchange is an online platform that connects busy people or empty-nesters with travellers,” Dautowic tells StartupSmart.

Body mapping start-up mPort signs $80m US deal with LA Fitness

An Australian start-up that makes 3D consumer body mapping machines, will expand to the US after winning a deal with one of the biggest fitness chains in the world, LA Fitness.

mPort, which was founded by high school friends Dipra Ray, Andy Wu and Melody Shue, makes human-sized capsules called mPods which use infra-red to scan a person and provide them with a 3D image that can track body measurements, their body mass index and other health metrics over time.

Adelaide-founded startup HappyCo raises $9.9 million from a range of high-profile global investors

An Adelaide-founded SaaS startup has raised $9.9 million from a range of high-profile global investors as it looks to rapidly expanding.

HappyCo offers mobile apps for enterprise workforces to run their operations more efficiently, with its flagship product Happy Inspector now being used by thousands of companies to remotely inspect sites.

Greater certainty on integrity rules regarding the taxation of debt and equity: Exposure draft legislation | The Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP

Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, the Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP, today released Exposure Draft legislation and explanatory material to provide greater certainty in relation to integrity rules regarding the taxation of debt and equity.

Australia’s tax rules classify financing arrangements as debt (with deductible interest) or equity according to their economic substance.  They also contain integrity rules designed to prevent taxpayers from artificially splitting a single scheme into multiple schemes to achieve favourable tax outcomes.

Fast growing Unlockd eyes $39.5 million raising as global expansion continues

Telecommunications and advertising start-up Unlockd is cementing its status as Australia’s fastest growing tech start-up success story, raising up to $US30 million ($39.5 million) in its second major funding round, and further expanding its global footprint.

The Series B capital raising news comes as the company’s international expansion lifts up another notch, with the business securing a partnership with Jamaica’s largest telecommunications provider Digicel.

3D data firm gets format right

Perth-based 3D data start-up Pointerra may not be a household name, but this relatively new entrant to the ASX is hoping its data as a service (DaaS) solution has what it takes to make a name for the outfit in the big, bold world of geospatial data.

The technology underpinning Pointerra’s quest to provide the tools to map the world in 3D was spawned in Rio Tinto’s remote operations centre, the bunker from which the miner runs its trains, trucks and infrastructure. Pointerra owes its start to a technology team working at the bunker tasked with putting together a data visualisation platform, stitching together existing software solutions.

‘More focus needed to draw cashed-up backers for start-ups’

Fresh off a multi-million-dollar investment in Brisbane-based marketing data start-up Simple, venture capital fund SparkLabs Global Ventures is casting its eye for further Australian investments, says co-founder and partner Frank Meehan.

The fund is the operator of one of Asia’s top accelerators, SparkLabs, which is also known as the Y Combinator of Asia, and Mr Meehan is confident the Australian start-up scene has turned a corner with real money starting to trickle in.

CEDA State of the Nation forum | Ministers for the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science

Good morning. I am delighted to be invited to speak at your State of the Nation forum.

It’s an opportunity to talk about my vision for industry, innovation and science working side by side to drive our economic future and create new high-wage jobs. But I’m also keen to hear from the policy makers here today about their views and their vision for the economy, because we can achieve great things by sharing our views and working together.

Australians value data retention over privacy: ANU research

Two years after mandatory data retention laws were first introduced to Parliament amid outcries from privacy experts and civil liberties advocates, it now seems Australians are less concerned about privacy than many opponents of data retention would have expected, or hoped.

According to new research conducted by ANU, the majority of Australians are in favour of mandatory data retention, with two thirds of the population saying the collection of metadata is justified to combat terrorism.

Address to the ACCI Business Leaders Summit | The Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP

Today is the first day of the third sitting week of the 45th Parliament – a Parliament that the Government is determined will be a parliament of delivery.

We have already seen significant progress in this short period, with the Government securing $11 billion towards budget repair in our first two sitting weeks, with passage of our Omnibus Savings Bill and our tobacco excise increases.

It will be a Parliament that delivers for all Australians, whether they’re in our cities or our regions, whether they’re young, retired, or part of our evolving workforce.

And so in my opening address I’d like to share our vision for delivering opportunity through enterprise.

ATO’s culture shift: from tax cop to stakeholder coach

Tax collectors haven’t attracted a reputation for an exceptionally helpful or understanding approach over the years, but things are changing in the Australian Taxation Office — and that change has come from within.

Like all regulators, the ATO Australian Taxation Office cannot ensure 100% compliance with 100% assurance, so it has to target its resources where the risk of non-compliance is highest. The corollary is trying to understand the pain points for low-risk groups, which represent the majority of taxpayers, rather than simply pointing to the rules and threatening stiff penalties.

Tips, comments or suggestions? Let me know in the comments, send me an email or tweet me @simeonduncan.

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