Even if more people understood the benefit of doing nothing in a situation, enacting this decision would require system level thinking on the part of the grant applicants. I suspect a lot of applications are ‘actually’ motivated by things other than improving the Australian startup ecosystem. Given the pool of potential applicants is anyone who can fill out a form and sound good on paper, maybe expecting the entire applicant pool to self moderate is too much to ask?
For me, the difficult questions for grant programs are: Can a grant system be designed to limit the number of bad actors and increase the potential for shared system level thinking? Assuming there is a way to do this (pre-qualification, ongoing performance metrics, measurement of ecosystem indicators, tranching of grants, community voting, enforced competitive selection?), is it possible for a government entity to actually implement this kind of scheme successfully given they are beholden to mostly non-founder stakeholders? Perhaps, if they have excellent engagement with founders.
I don’t see this happening very much in Australia. But is it the government’s fault? Yes, and no…and it doesn’t really matter. As founders we can do a lot to take ownership over the engagement process. Why should we be passive actors. Founder ‘communities’ are in a unique position to do outbound engagement with gov’t and other organisations, regardless of whether those organisations are seeking engagement or not. As a community, we can make engagement happen. This is why healthy founder communities are so important — they are the rudder which can steer the ecosystem regardless of what else is happening.
P.S. I didn’t start out to write this much and it is kind of a raw brain dump — sorry. I also haven’t finished reading the rest of the article. Perhaps you address a lot of this later. Comments welcome.