The ALP says it wants to encourage brilliant minds to start new companies in Australia.

Labor has released what could be another plank in its pre-election bid for next year, with a pledge to introduce HECS-style loans for university graduates to create their own start-up companies.

It is being pitched as a ‘start-up year’, similar to the traditional academically-focussed honours year.

Some see it as the Opposition’s attempt to take the wind out of new PM Malcolm Turnbull’s sails, as he too has been shaping a shift to a technological and innovation-based Australian economy.

In an interview with Fairfax media reporters this week, Labor leader Bill Shorten said the option of a ‘start-up year’ would be available to up to 2000 students a year.

The plan would see them establishing new companies by working with accredited university programs or off-campus facilities, using loans of round $11,000 a year as well as mentoring and professional development.

The loans would only have to be repaid when the former students start earning over $54,000, just likes university graduates’ HECS repayments.

“This new approach will grow Australia's pool of young entrepreneurs, help drive innovation and grow the much needed links between universities and the start-up community, encouraging universities to draw in private-sector mentors and investors,” Mr Shorten said.

“Income-contingent loans have the benefit of securing a concrete commitment from students who are serious about starting their own venture, while also enabling a large number of students to embrace this opportunity across Australia.”

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) stats show just 3.5 per cent of big Australian businesses collaborate on innovation with higher education or public research.

It places Australia a long way behind the UK, where thirty-one per cent of companies collaborate with universities on research, a model followed by 43 per cent of German companies and 70 per cent of Finnish companies.