Discussion paper
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As part of the Government’s Economic Action Strategy, the recently released Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda (IICA) brings together and builds on the Government’s economic reform efforts to make the most of Australia’s strengths and business opportunities. The IICA provides a framework for boosting Australian industries’ competitiveness and driving greater innovation and investment. Entrepreneurs and small businesses are crucial sources of innovative ideas and products. Ensuring small businesses are able to grow and thrive is vital to creating a dynamic, competitive Australian economy. The Government has already taken steps to support innovative small businesses, including the recent announcement of reforms to the tax treatment of employee share schemes that will help start-up companies attract and retain high quality staff. As part of the small business policy taken to the 2013 election, the Government is committed to helping small businesses access finance. Crowd-sourced equity funding (CSEF) is an emerging form of funding that allows entrepreneurs to raise funds online from a large number of small investors. Along with other innovative finance options, including peer-to-peer lending, angel investing and venture capital, CSEF has the potential to increase small businesses and start-ups’ access to funds to develop and implement their ideas and products. However, current regulatory requirements present a barrier to the widespread use of CSEF in Australia. For this reason, one of the measures identified in the IICA is for the Government to consult on a potential regulatory framework to facilitate the use of CSEF in Australia. This discussion paper forms the basis of the Government’s consultation on CSEF. It seeks feedback on aspects of potential CSEF models, including a model recommended by the Corporations and Markets Advisory Committee in a report on CSEF released in June 2014, as well as a model similar to that recently implemented in New Zealand.

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