Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Chief Minister Andrew Barr on the USA Trade Mission

Innovation is key to strong, sustainable economic growth and today I was pleased to meet with two innovative Canberra businesses whose success has extended all the way to Silicon Valley, USA.
QuintessenceLabs is a global leader and one of Australia’s most innovative science based technology companies.

Today I was pleased to join QuintessenceLabs as they announced their landmark partnership with global end-to-end manufacturing services provider SMTC.

SMTC will deliver contract manufacturing and systems integration services for QuintessenceLabs products, which includes technology that address the most difficult security challenges facing companies.

This new partnership exemplifies the great success that QuintessenceLabs has achieved on the world stage and is a key example of Canberra’s significant strengths in building industry sectors for the future.

In addition, QuintessenceLabs was last week named as a winner in this year's SINET-16 innovator competition.

SINET, which is sponsored by the US Department of Homeland Security, along with several other federal agencies, and large banks, is an organisation focused on advancing cyber security innovation through public-private collaboration. SINET-16 is the pre-eminent recognition, worldwide, for emerging cyber security companies.

QuintessenceLabs will now have the opportunity to showcase its capabilities to 300-400 senior cyber security leaders from the government and banking sectors at the SINET Showcase in Washington DC on November 4.

While in Silicon Valley I also had the pleasure of catching up with the team from Seeing Machines, which is another great company that started in Canberra and now enjoys multinational success.

Seeing Machines develops smart camera-based technologies for detecting driver fatigue and distraction behind the wheel, and recently signed a landmark deal with construction machinery and equipment company Caterpillar.

I was able to take part in a demonstration of autonomous vehicle simulator with eye tracking capability and experience the Seeing Machines technology that is already being used by mining, road transport and bus customers globally to reduce risks and save lives. This same technology is expected to appear in private passenger cars as early as 2016.

The ACT Government is exploring the possibility of developing the ACT as a location for testing, research and development activities for autonomous vehicles.

Exploring innovative technologies like this will make our roads safer, improve our urban environment and liveable city status, increase productivity and improve social inclusion by increasing mobility for people with a disability.

Canberra has been the home and creator of many world changing ideas and transformational technologies, and we love seeing local companies achieve global success, and I wish QuintessenceLabs and Seeing Machines all the very best with their new international partnerships.

This article was originally published by ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr at

Thursday, 3 September 2015

CBR backs innovation

A strong and growing economy is essential for us to meet the needs of the Canberra community now and into the future. Our economy will grow, and we will create jobs and wealth, by accelerating our innovation sector and building on our strengths in higher education and service exports.

The ACT Government, through our renewed business development strategy, is continuing to put in place practical policies that create the right business environment and use our competitive strengths to accelerate innovation, creating jobs for Canberra.

One of the three strategic priorities outlined in the business development strategy is accelerating innovation.  As part of this we are providing additional funding to the CBR Innovation Network to support potential high growth businesses including the establishment of the new business incubator program, the KILN incubator.

KILN is a business program that aims to support budding Canberra entrepreneurs through a range of services including coaching, mentoring, business advisory and office space.

Today marks the opening of the 2015 competitive funding round of the CBR Innovation Development Fund.  The Fund has been designed to support a range of initiatives aimed at developing capability and investment across the ACT’s innovation ecosystem.

The Fund will offer $700,000 for initiatives that build the capacity and capability in the innovation ecosystem, demonstrate sustainable economic growth and promote local job development. In the 2016–17 funding round the amount will be increased to $1.45 million.

It is a working example of the Government’s commitment to diversification of Canberra’s economy by creating the right business environment, accelerating innovation to create wealth and jobs and supporting investment in future growth areas.

The higher education and research sector contributes $2.7 billion a year to our economy and creates 16,000 full time equivalent jobs for the Canberra community. This is why the Government has funded a number of innovation programs such as the Innovation Connect grants, which will be delivered in conjunction with ANU and UC’s Discovery Translation Fund.

Canberra’s higher education sector has made a strong commitment to the CBR Innovation Network and recognises that a dynamic innovation ecosystem will assist these institutions to achieve their goal of turning research into commercial outcomes.

We only have to look at successful Canberra companies such as FEI Australia, SmartWard, Enabled Employment and Aspen Medical to see that innovation is vital to strengthening and diversifying the Canberra economy.

My goal is to create more companies like these, which is why the government has decided to back innovation.

This article was originally published by ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr at

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Launch of 2015 Chief Minister’s Export Awards

Nominations are now open for the 2015 ACT Chief Minister’s Export Awards, which recognise the important contribution that local businesses make to our economy through job creation and broadening our economic base.

The ACT has a thriving community of exporters. We contribute over 35 per cent of all Australian Government goods and services exported, and in 2013-14, 10 per cent of all Australian services in research and development (R&D) were exported from the territory to global markets – a significant national contribution.

The Awards, delivered in partnership with the Canberra Business Chamber (CBC), also acknowledge the innovation, hard work and success of Canberra businesses in reaching markets overseas.

From 2015, the ACT Government will double its funding for the Awards, providing $135,000 each year. This funding will be used to grow the Awards, highlighting those companies who are contributing to the more than $1.2 billion worth of products and services being exported annually from the ACT.

The ACT is also ranked nationally as having the highest concentration of knowledge-based activity, and the government is committed to continuing to work with our business community and higher education sector to reduce barriers and create an environment that fosters growth, innovation and entrepreneurship. The 2015-16 ACT Budget will deliver $11.75 million in new funding to support Confident and Business Ready: Building on Our Strengths, the ACT Government’s new business development strategy.

ACT Chief  Minister Andrew Barr said "I would like to take the time to acknowledge the work of the CBC, the ACT Exporters’ Network, and the positive working relationship the ACT Government has with Austrade and the ACT exporting community."

Previous Chief Minister’s Export Awards winners in all categories include Seeing Machines, Aspen Medical, Intelledox, Bearcage Pty Ltd, Datapod and the Royal Australian Mint.

"I urge all exporting businesses to enter these important awards and look forward to another excellent field of nominees. I also encourage those seeking export markets to take advantage of the ACT Government’s trade mission program" said the Chief Minister.

Find out more about the ACT Chief Minister's Export Awards.

Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander study and training grants now open

The second round of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Scholarship Grants, which support professional development opportunities, is open for applications with a total of $135,000 in funding available.

The aim of the program is to encourage and support local ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents to undertake study and training which will enhance and support their employment prospects and further develop their skills.

The first round funded 12 people in a varied areas of studies including social science, commerce, public management, arts, psychology and justice studies, diplomas in government, procurement, project management, beauty therapy and certificates in fitness.

The grants can be used for recognised training courses, as supplementary funding to participants on existing leadership programs for professional and personal development and also to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents working in the ACT who are undertaking entry level qualifications.

The program works towards fostering a better connected community where everyone has the means to contribute by empowering participants to develop their own individual skills which will strengthen the Canberra and wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

This program is just one way the ACT Government is working with ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to improve educational outcomes and share a positive vision for the future of our community.

Individuals are able to apply for a grant of up to $5,000 and applications are open for four weeks and close at 5pm on Tuesday 30 June 2015.

To apply for the Scholarship Grants program or to obtain further information, phone 6205 1699 or visit

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Digital Canberra Challenge: Round 4 extended!

The Digital Canberra Challenge has extended its Round 4 call for innovators.

You now have until 12 July 2015 to send in your solutions for the two new Challenges!

Go to the Digital Canberra Challenge website and get thinking on how you can solve them to help make Canberra a leading Digital City.

The Digital Canberra Challenge provides Competing teams with:

  • $5,000 for out of pocket expenses
  • $12,500 for the winner and $7,500 for the Runner-up
  • Fantastic opportunities to network and work closely with government and businesses
  • Promotion of your brand or start-up
  • A low-risk environment in which you can develop your Prototypes and Proof of Concepts
  • Advice and support on the project's management

Friday, 12 June 2015

Actsmart awards for top local businesses

Businesses across the Canberra region were recognised for their commitment to saving energy, water and the environment at the sixth annual Actsmart Business Sustainability Awards today.

Minister for Environment Simon Corbell presented 11 awards in categories ranging from Waste Minimisation to Innovation and Leadership at the annual event.

“The positive contribution of local business is crucial in making Canberra and the region more sustainable and it’s really encouraging to see the number of businesses involved in Actsmart programs growing each year,” Mr Corbell said.

The Cheeky Chicken Early Learning Centre in Hughes took out both the energy and water awards.

To reduce energy use in an old 1970s building, the centre insulated the roof, replaced old windows, upgraded to LED lights, and in a clever and cost effective move adjusted orientation to maximise natural light, resulting in 75% of the building not requiring artificial light for most of the year.

To reduce water bills the centre installed a 6-star energy rated plywood floor that can be dry-mopped, reducing water consumption, and upgraded taps and toilets to energy efficient models.

“Actsmart programs will continue to support local businesses to find new ways to reduce their waste, energy and water usage and I am confident innovative companies like the Cheeky Chicken Early Learning Centre will inspire more businesses to join the program.” Mr Corbell said.

“The Actsmart Business Recycling program is now being implemented at more than 750 sites throughout the ACT and Queanbeyan, allowing more than 40,000 staff to recycle in their workplace”.

”The Actsmart Business Energy and Water program has helped more than 330 small businesses reduce energy and water consumption, with businesses saving on average $2,500 each year off energy bills.

“Today’s awards tell the stories behind the inspiring initiatives of our local business community who are making Canberra more sustainable while cutting business costs at the same time.”

For more information on how to make your home, school or business more sustainable visit

The Actsmart Business Sustainability Award winners are:

Waste Minimisation: Brema Group & Elections ACT

Biggest Recycler – Small event: 4th July Celebrations
Highly Commended: Wanniassa Hills Primary School

Biggest Recycler – Large event: National Folk Festival

Biggest Recycler – Business: National Library of Australia

Motivation Excellence: Belconnen Early Childhood Centre
Highly Commended: TEDx Canberra

Small Business Award: Bond Hair Religion

Ministers Award for Leadership: Jancye Winter

Energy Star: Cheeky Chicken Early Learning Centre
Highly Commended: CLASS Locksmiths & St Stephen Anglican Church Kambah

Corporate Award: Turner and Townsend

Water Star: Cheeky Chicken Early Learning Centre

Innovation Excellence:
Highly Commended: Australian Sports Commission

Thursday, 4 June 2015

ACT Government continues reducing red tape for local businesses

The ACT Government is continuing to cut red tape for business with new legislation introduced today removing 70,000 extra administrative transactions each year through reporting changes for workers compensation.

This complements the ACT Government’s other reforms to reduce regulatory burdens, including the establishment of Access Canberra, a one-stop shop for approvals and other ACT Government services.

The latest red tape reduction bill includes further reforms to:
  • reduce reporting for employers in the Territory by changing wage declarations for workers compensation insurance purposes from six months to 12 months;
  • modernise requirements for public notices in the ACT legislation to enable notification of public notices on an ACT Government website;
  • extend permits under the Public Unleased Land Act 2013 to three years; and
  • support the establishment of Access Canberra by enabling the head of Access Canberra to exercise and delegate functions under Acts for areas of operational responsibility.

With the workers compensation changes, this Bill will remove 70,000 extra administrative transactions per annum.  The Government is also continuing its efforts to reduce administrative costs by extending permit periods for public unleased land use.

The licensing of hawkers will be brought under the Public Unleased Land Act, providing consistency in the regulatory approach to public land use. The Bill will also allow for public notices to be provided online, where appropriate, as well as in print newspapers. This will give government agencies the opportunity to target audiences more effectively and make information easier for business and the community to find.

The ACT Government is committed to an ongoing program of reforms and will continue to engage with stakeholders on opportunities to reduce regulatory burden in the Territory.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

ACT Budget 2015-16: Support for Canberra Businesses

The 2015‐16 ACT Budget for Canberra is about supporting local businesses, promoting job growth and continuing to support our economy.

We are doing this by investing in local businesses – the heart of our economy and community – and funding initiatives that play to the Territory’s strengths and accelerate innovation.

The Government is spending more than $20 million in new funding to support Canberra’s business community and boost investment. We are upgrading ICT systems, simplifying processes and working in partnership with all sectors to make it easier to do business in the ACT.

Investing to drive business growth

This Budget will deliver $11.8 million in new funding over two years to support a range of initiatives in Confident and Business Ready: Building on Our Strengths – the Government’s Business Development Strategy. This includes:
  • $6 million spread across two new programs – the CBR Innovation Development Fund and the CBR Trade and Investment Fund. These programs will support the private sector’s expansion in the ACT economy through enterprise focused activities, including commercialisation support, export development, investment attraction and outreach and promotion;
    • This includes an extra $300,000 per year for the Canberra Innovation Network to take total annual funding to $1.1 million.
  • $1.4 million to build on the success of the first phase of Brand Canberra, promoting the city as a place to live, work, invest, study and/or visit; and  
  • The Government will increase the payroll tax threshold to $2 million by 2016‐17 to provide a tax cut for all local businesses who are liable for this tax, and to exempt even more businesses from the tax.

Partnering with local businesses

In 2015-16, the Government will be working in partnership with the private sector to encourage local firms to grow, innovate and do business with the Territory Government. Access to government procurement is a driver of business growth. As part of the $11.8 million Business Development Strategy, the Government announced two procurement initiatives, which the local businesses community identified as priorities.

Local Industry Advocate

In 2015-16 the Local Industry Advocate will be established. This Office, to be led by a respected and local industry figure, will ensure that ACT Government procurement decisions take into account the capability of the local industry. The first act of the Local Industry Advocate will be to undertake a Local Industry Participation Policy, to help establish best practice in linking ACT Government procurement with local businesses.

Small Business Innovation Partnership

The Small Business Innovation Partnership will be modelled on similar programs around the world, including the US’s Small Business Innovation Research program. It will provide local companies with an opportunity to provide innovative products and services to the Territory Government with a view to developing these products and services for sale to other governments and clients.

A one-stop-shop for business

The budget will provide $4.7 million in new funding over four years to enable Access Canberra to make doing business with the Government simpler and easier. Access Canberra will reduce red tape and create a ‘one stop shop’ for dealing with government. This Budget includes:
  • $853,000 for the Simpler Business Licensing initiative to drive regulatory reform and reduce red tape across the ACT Government. The funding will be used to create standardised, simplified processes, leading to a single business framework for administering licences and permits through Access Canberra. It will also allow for the further expansion of online services and the integration of face-to-face services across Access Canberra shopfronts;
  • $2.1 million for the Access Canberra – One service, one experience – online services initiative to meet and deliver more government services and transactions online. The initiative will enable Access Canberra to establish a common customer service IT platform; and
  • $1.8 million for the Land Titles Business Systems Modernisation initiative to upgrade the current business system that manages ACT land data and land titles. This initiative will lead to a significant change in the way that Land Titles processes are managed in the ACT, including introducing electronic lodgement processes and enabling online access to the Land Title Register.

Improved services for the building and construction industry

$3.9 million in new funding over four years will improve environment and planning services for the building and construction industry. This investment includes:
  • $1.4 million to support a new streamlined approach to processing environmental approvals, reducing red tape for new developments and expediting approvals for potential home owners; and
  • $2.5 million to upgrade ageing ICT systems used to process development applications and building approvals. The new systems will be more user friendly, and include faster upload facilities, saving time and money for the building industry as well as government.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Confident Canberra ready to attract business, investment, jobs

Confident and Business Ready header

A new plan launched today will see Canberra build on its strengths to support entrepreneurs and generate more jobs in innovation, research and education.

The 2015-16 ACT Budget will deliver $11.75 million in new funding to support Confident and Business Ready: Building on Our Strengths, the ACT Government’s new business development strategy, which will continue to grow the Canberra economy and create jobs.

We have many reasons to be confident. We’ve weathered the storm of Commonwealth cuts to keep unemployment low, retained our Triple-A stable credit rating and attracted investment from major international companies, including Ikea, Qantas and Costco. What is clear is that we need to keep diversifying our economy, continue to stand on our own two feet and make sure we play to our strengths as a smart, liveable city.

This new funding over two years includes $6 million for programs and initiatives to accelerate business innovation, trade and investment, $4.35 million for the visitor economy and $1.4 million to build on the successful first phase of the Brand Canberra project.

Confident and Business Ready: Building on Our Strengths outlines three strategic imperatives. These are:
  1. Creating the right business environment
  2. Accelerating innovation to create wealth and jobs
  3. Supporting business investment in future growth areas

Strong partnerships between the Government, our business community, our world-class education institutions and the region are also a major focus of this strategy because it is these partnerships that are helping make Canberra a truly international city and knowledge economy.

Local and regional partnerships will benefit all businesses in the ACT, and I welcome the support that the strategy has already received from a number of the leaders of Canberra’s business, innovation and higher education communities.

Creating the right business environment

Improving access to government through Access Canberra, putting in place reforms to government procurement, cutting red tape and reducing payroll and other taxes will assist all 25,000+ businesses in the ACT.

Accelerating innovation to create wealth and jobs

We are focusing on innovation because we know from international research that businesses that systematically innovate grow at twice the rate of those that don’t. In addition, businesses engaging in international trade are almost four times as large, twice as productive, pay six times more wages and create more jobs than non-trading and purely domestic firms. We will work with the CBR Innovation Network to create an innovation ecosystem that supports all businesses that want to grow. 

We will also promote Canberra as Australia’s higher education and research capital and work with our internationally and nationally renowned higher education and research institutions to develop key new capability areas. This includes developments in areas such as the space industry, agriculture and environmental science, sports technology, health innovation, cyber security and ICT and e-government.

Supporting business investment in future growth areas

We will continue to support economic activities that offer major growth opportunities for the Canberra economy. Areas include:
  • International and national students studying in the ACT already contribute $879 million per year to our economy and create 6,100 full time equivalent jobs. Through StudyCanberra we will work with our education institutions to promote Canberra as a higher education destination of choice and significantly grow this sector; 
  • Visitors to Canberra contribute $1.6 billion per year to our economy. We aim to grow that contribution to $2.5 billion by 2020;
  • We will build our economy through our commitment to renewable energy. The Renewable Energy Industry Development Strategy will accelerate the development of the renewable energy industry in the ACT, for the benefit of participating businesses, institutions and the ACT community;
  • Recognising the close link between creativity and innovation and the important role of the arts and culture in improving Canberra’s attractiveness as a place to live, work and visit, we will work with the CBR Innovation Network to develop the capability and capacity of businesses in the creative industries sector. In 2015-16 we will provide $250,000 to ScreenACT and $400,000 for co-funding development of feature films or mini-series. 

This new business development strategy builds on the achievements of the Government’s 2012 strategy, Growth, Diversification and Jobs, and continues to create the right business environment, using our competitive strengths to accelerate innovation and investment.

FEI Australia

Today’s funding announcement and launch took place at the official opening of the FEI Australia office in Civic – a prime example of a world-class technology start-up that has emerged from Canberra.

FEI Australia brings together many of the strands that will underpin the further diversification of the Canberra economy. The company, which was a spin off from research at the Australian National University (ANU) and University of New South Wales, was sold last year to FEI International for AUD$76 million returning substantial funding to ANU and a number of investors. The Australian operations of FEI have remained in Canberra because of the research excellence that surrounds it and the critical relationship that is has with the ANU. In fact, FEI’s employee numbers have grown from 18 to 42 in Canberra since the acquisition.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Canberra Start-up Innovations Rewarded

Seven Canberra businesses have been awarded funding of $257,000 in the recent round of the Innovation Connect program.

Innovation Connect is the ACT Government’s flagship innovation program which has provided funding to support and encourage Canberra’s start-up entrepreneurs since 2008.

The program provides valuable early stage funding of up to $50,000 to enable businesses to prove their innovative concepts and encourage them to progress through to commercialisation.

Many successful ACT businesses received their first big break through Innovation Connect funding and more than $3.7 million has now been awarded to 149 small innovative companies.

As the first of a set of programs available to support innovation in the ACT, the funding is designed to accelerate the commercialisation process and convert companies to a highly supportive innovative ecosystem.

The latest successful applicants and their projects are:
  • AxSys Performance – “Pump & Virtual Personal Trainer”, a wearable electronic gym training aid;
  • Dr Jackson Thomas – “An Innovative Dermatological Solution to Scabies”;
  • Platypus Instruments – “Portable Pocket Inverter”, allowing convenient fault trip time testing of residual current devices as required by electrical safety regulations; 
  • Newman Events – “Newman Venues”, an online conference and event venue search system;
  • Cycrete – “Cycrete”, a concrete agitator bowl cleaning additive;
  • Elementice – “Automated Camera Systems Trial”, allowing real time capture and upload to social media of branded business promotional images; and
  • Dr Moses Muti – “Safari Medical”, a web based travel health service.

Find out more about the Innovation Connect program.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

First Access Canberra Service Centre officially opened

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has officially opened Winyu House, the new ACT Government office block in Gungahlin, and the first Access Canberra Service Centre that is located in the building.

The opening of Winyu House and the Access Canberra Service Centre will help stimulate business in the area and ensure the people of Gungahlin are supported as the region continues to grow.

The addition of more than 650 ACT Government staff working in the town centre will provide an added boost to local businesses.

The ACT Government worked closely with local developer, the KDN Group, to bring the project to fruition. The modern, open plan design of Winyu House sets a new standard for ACT Government accommodation, with a work space that promotes connectivity and openness. The building has been nominated for a 2015 Master Builders and Cbus Excellence in Building Award.

Located on the ground floor of the building is the first Access Canberra Service Centre that brings together over 200 services previously provided at separate locations. The Centre features an open plan layout without barriers that allows customers to more easily interact with staff.

The Chief Minister said "Access Canberra presents a great opportunity to trial new service delivery models to make it easier for people to do business with the ACT Government.  The digital-first Centre provides touch screens to enable a range of transactions to be easily completed online.  It will also operate under a new model in which payments can only be made electronically, using debit or credit cards."

The building houses the Access Canberra Service Centre, ACT Government’s Shared Services staff and a new early childhood centre.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Economic development the focus as Canberra Region unites

CBR Region logo on stickers Chief Minister Andrew Barr speaking at the launch of Canberra Region Crowd at the launch of Canberra Region

The ACT Government and 12 regional NSW councils have come together to form the new Canberra Region.

The Canberra Region’s economic development opportunities will be enhanced by the new partnership, with the councils and the ACT Government working together to capitalise on the foundations already established in the area.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said "We have a unique bond with the councils that surround our city, a bond that is mutually beneficial and leads to the prosperity of the area."

"I have no doubt this increased collaboration will create even more brilliant possibilities for our region. The development of a single brand for the region will provide a strong platform upon which we can promote our competitive strengths to potential visitors, investors, students, residents and businesses."

Council Mayors voted unanimously to work collaboratively on the development of a common regional brand to leverage off the investment the ACT Government has made on the new Canberra brand.

The Chief Minister said "The diversity of the new Canberra Region continues to amaze me. There are few other places in Australia, or indeed the world, where you can spend the morning skiing in the mountains and dine on oysters by the ocean in the evening."

The 12 regional councils joining the ACT Government as part of the Canberra Region include Young, Boorowa, Yass Valley, Harden, Goulburn-Mulwaree, Upper Lachlan, Palerang, Queanbeyan, Cooma-Monaro, Snowy River, Bombala, and Eurobodalla.

The Canberra Region brand will adopt the use of the CBR logo, which will be integrated into the existing logos already used by local councils.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Expression of Interest: Shenzhen, China and Singapore Trade Delegation

The ACT Government through Invest Canberra is seeking expressions of interest from ACT companies wishing to join a business focused visit by the ACT Chief Minister to Shenzhen, China proposed for 22 - 24 June 2015. The Chief Minister will also visit Singapore from 21 - 22 June 2015 for a series of business related engagements.

This expression of interest process aims to gauge the level of interest from individual ACT businesses to participate in the delegation and the likely level of in-market support required for programming around a visit.

The Trade Delegation would seek to leverage Canberra’s Capital City advantages and strength as an innovative service based economy delivering solutions to the public sector market. The Delegation would support companies with demonstrated market ready solutions in areas including:
  • ICT
  • e-government 
  • Services to government
  • Healthcare
  • Sport Science services
  • Professional Services

The ACT Government will offer limited financial support for company participation. Companies that meet the ACT Trade Connect Program criteria will also be able to access funding support for travel and accommodation to a maximum of $5,000 on a dollar for dollar basis.

Expressions of Interest are due 22 May 2015.

To find out more download the Expression of Interest form:
Word Trade Delegation Expression of Interest form: Word 241kB
PDF Trade Delegation Expression of Interest from: PDF 120kB

Friday, 1 May 2015

Nominations open for inaugural ACT Scientist of the Year Award

2015 ACT Scientist of the Year award banner

Nominations are now open for the inaugural ACT Scientist of the Year Award.

The Award seeks to recognise the achievements of an ‘up-and-coming’ scientist who has significant potential to continue to achieve in their chosen field of research. It is an opportunity to showcase the contribution that Canberrans make to the world of science and innovation, both nationally and worldwide.

It will be presented for the first time in 2015, and will be open to individual scientists working in basic or applied research and science, in all fields of science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM). To be eligible scientists must also have finished their PhD within the last 10 years, and be in the ACT conducting research.

The winning scientist will receive a $30,000 prize and will become a science ambassador for the ACT by encouraging and inspiring young people to consider a career in science and promoting the ACT as a centre of knowledge and scientific research and innovation.

The winner will be announced during National Science Week in August.

Nominations close 9 June 2015.

For more information, including eligibility criteria, visit the Scientist of the Year webpage External Link - opens in new window.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Applications open - Seoul International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition

The Defence Material Organisation will host a Team Defence Australia exhibition stand at the 'Seoul ADEX' defence exhibition in October 2015.

Seoul ADEX is a biennial tri-service exposition and conference which commenced in 1995 and is the only significant defence trade exhibition of its type in North Asia.

Key statistics from Seoul ADEX in 2013 include
  • 361 exhibitors from 28 countries;
  • 67,000 visited during the trade days (4 days);
  • 72 official delegations from 45 countries; and
  • Claimed US$7.5 billion in contracts signed at, or as a direct result of ADEX 2013.

Applications are now open for Australian defence companies interested in participating in the mission.

Applications close 20 May 2015.

For more information visit the Department of Defence website External Link - opens in new window.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Digital Canberra Challenge award winners

Digital Canberra Challenge winners

Chief Minister Andrew Barr MLA has today announced the winners of Round Three and launch Round Four of the Digital Canberra Challenge.

The Chief Minister said" The Digital Canberra Challenge is an initiative which not only provides an opportunity for the ACT Government to think differently, but also harnesses the talent and creativity of our innovative SMEs and seeks to engage them in the design and development of digital solutions to improve public service delivery."

"Encouraging the public service to work collaboratively with these organisations will help grow the private sector here in the ACT. This is a priority for the government as we aim to reduce our reliance on the Commonwealth public service."

Round Three joint winners APositive and Link Digital were awarded $10,000 each in prize money. APositive developed a digital art installation and Link Digital developed a Digital Image and Video Library.

APositive is a design studio specialising in using augmented reality. Their innovative solution involved the creation of a unique soundscape at the Arboretum linked to the different forests.

Link Digital is an established digital agency within the Government and commercial sector, located in Canberra, Australia. Link Digital’s solution to developing a Digital Image and Video Library is truly innovative in its use of open source and community supported tools.

Since making the first call for challenges in August 2013, local designers and developers have collaborated with public servants to address real problems encountered by the ACT Government in doing business.

The Chief Minister said "I congratulate all of the participants in this round of the Digital Canberra Challenge and look forward to even more local innovators stepping up to the next challenge."

"The two new challenges to be addressed are Augmented Built Reality and New Communications Platform for ACT Government Staff and Volunteers and I encourage local innovators to get involved."

To find out more visit the Digital Canberra Challenge website External Link - opens in new window.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Canberra Teens Learn to Code in new event by Entry 29 participants

Entry 29 External Link - opens in new window has brought together 30 of Canberra’s programmers, technologists and designers to hold a three day digital technologies community event,, for 130 ACT High School students over 17-19 April 2015.

The event is a project-based learning approach to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) disciplines and entrepreneurship. The event is designed for students at all levels of experience. Beginners receive mentoring and support from Canberra’s tech community as they develop their first website, mobile app, video game, 3D animation, or 3D printed object. More advanced students are using the three days to form teams, build something cool, and compete for more than $7,500 in cash prizes.

ACT teachers and schools are getting behind the event with Canberra Grammar School providing its new Snow Centre building as the venue for the inaugural event.

“We need more events like which allow students to engage in practical projects beyond the
classroom. At Canberra Grammar School we are proud to support this event which is an ideal use of our new Snow Centre building – emphasising collaboration, teamwork, and community,” said Information and Software Technology Teacher Matthew Purcell.

Event Lead and General Manager at the Entry 29 tech startup co-working space Matt Stimson is passionate about developing ACT Youth and getting them into technology and entrepreneurship.

“You ask enough developers how they became passionate about technology and it often involves positive experiences and support during their formative years. A large component of this event exists for high schoolers interested in tech and unsure of how to get started with it,’ he said.

The organisers raised over $17,500 in their crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to cover the event costs and prizes. The crowdfunding effort goes towards running not only this event, but funding the development of materials to rollout the concept nationally to satellite venues in 2016.

“This inaugural event is going brilliantly and we’re already thinking of how to grow it and run a similar event for Primary Schools,” Stimson added.

The CBR Innovation Network (CBRIN) reserved the major sponsorship opportunity within hours of the campaign launch.

“I only wish there were opportunities like this when I was going through school. We are extremely proud to be involved with we could not be more excited to support youth in the ACT. This event could be the start of an amazing journey for hundreds of Canberra’s youth,” said CBR Innovation Network Chief Executive Dr Sarah Pearson.

NICTA’s Digital Careers Office and Cogito Group, winner of the ACT Telstra Business Award in 2014 for Startup of the Year, have also joined as event sponsors. Canberra startups like and game studios Cardboard Keep and Whalehammer Games have also come aboard.

More event information is available at External Link - opens in new window.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

ACT Government extends relationship with Canberra airport

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr MLA has joined the Managing Director of the Canberra International Airport, Stephen Byron, to formally sign the revised Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the ACT Government and the Airport.

The Chief Minister said "The ACT Government recognises the significant role Canberra Airport plays as a regional gateway and a generator of investment and employment in our city. The revised MoU reflects the ongoing work being undertaken by the ACT Government and the Canberra Airport to market our city as a destination of choice and as a transport hub to airlines, with a particular focus on increasing visitation from domestic and international markets and increasing opportunities for the export of regional products and services."

"The revised MoU also reinforces the ongoing positive and collaborative relationship the ACT Government has with the Canberra Airport – a partnership that in recent years has seen a $480 million investment by the Canberra Airport that means we now have a world class aviation facility capable of handling international flights."

"Our combined efforts to attract new air services will help grow the ACT and regional economy, and create hundreds of new jobs. Direct flight services will also help achieve the goal of our 2020 Tourism Strategy to grow the value of overnight visitor expenditure into the ACT to $2.5 billion by 2020" said the Chief Minister.

In addition, the MoU revises the role of the Canberra Airport Integration Committee, which now includes:
  • considering progress and agree shared actions;
  • facilitating the implementation of the Canberra Airport Master Plan; and
  • being a forum to discuss issues, policies and other matters in relation to planning and infrastructure, the operation and development of the Airport and the integration of the Airport into the wider community and the ACT planning context.

The Chief Minister said" I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the Capital Airport Group’s significant investment in the future of Canberra and its recent achievements, including the 2013 Australian Airport of the Year Award."

The revised MoU will be tabled in the ACT Legislative Assembly in the first week of the May Sitting Period.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Chief Minister's ‘State of the Territory’ address

On Tuesday 31 March 2015, Chief Minister Andrew Barr MLA delivered the ‘State of the Territory’ address. Below is his speech:

I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we are meeting, and pay my respects to their Elders, past and present.

It’s always a privilege to be here at one of Australia’s great institutions, the National Press Club.
It’s great to be joined by so many leaders of our community.  Can I particularly welcome representatives of our higher education sector, and thank the sponsor, UNSW Canberra.

A thriving higher education sector is vital to our city’s future – something I will talk more about today.

I want to start by emphasising the ‘two strands’ of governing Canberra.

Government leadership is bringing together what we want to do – renewing our city – with what we must do – keeping our city’s economy strong.

If we get this task right, we can combine these ‘two strands’ – urban renewal and economic strength – to form a strong cord for the city’s future.

My Government will energetically pursue this task.

Canberra is confronting very new challenges and new opportunities.

For our city, in 2015, ‘business as usual’ doesn’t cut it. Canberra needs more.

Our urban life is changing, and we must renew our transport, planning and urban services to change with it. Our approach to investment, development, industry and growth must change too.

So the Government I lead is bringing a new approach. We are joining with our community in creating a city with its own distinct lifestyle and identity for the future – and we are very actively joining with our business and university sector in laying new economic foundations for the city as well.

That is why I am bringing a more active approach to attracting investment and renewing our urban centres, and will outline today key examples of how we will are taking control of our future:

First, a light rail system – a city-defining project to make us a city in our own right: designed for Canberra, and benefiting all Canberrans.

Second, a drive to greater economic self-reliance - capitalising on our natural advantages; making us less reliant on, and subservient to, the Federal public sector economy.

And third, making Canberra a true ‘knowledge capital’ by giving our world class local universities structural advantages over their education competitors.

Thriving city campuses create opportunities for development and collaboration, innovation, and business offshoots.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe this city is on a roll.

Some will tell you we shouldn’t be optimists. I occasionally hear them shouting from the political sidelines: that we should retreat into our shell at the first sign of wider economic instability, and not commit to major infrastructure or development projects.

But I can feel the excitement in this city about what we are now, and what we can become.

I share this feeling. That is why we should be optimistic. That is why my government will be bold.

We are no longer a country town that closes down at 8pm.

We are not Sydney and Melbourne’s little brother either; we stand in our own right as the most liveable city in the world.

We love the new precincts, like New Acton, Braddon and the Kingston Foreshore, which have redefined living and socialising in this city.

We don’t have to lose those things that make this city special as we grow up – our community, our inclusiveness, our bush landscapes, our world class educational system, the lifestyle of suburbs like Curtin, Kambah and Aranda, which so many people have grown up with, or moved here for.

In short, Canberra is coming into its own.  We are a place of brilliant possibilities.
I share the determination of our business and university sector, and our community at large, to be more economically self-reliant; to stand on our own feet.

We face the toughest external economic environment in the self-government era.  We’re facing both a weakening national economy and an unfriendly Federal Government.

The task is large, but the fact is our business leaders, thought leaders, community leaders, advocates, small businesses, and school leavers are stronger than we’ve been before.

We are up to the job of taking an economic challenge and turning it into a city-building opportunity – through renewing our urban fabric, putting Canberra in a stronger and more independent position.

Transport Reform - Capital Metro

So, let’s talk about transport reform – and in particular – Capital Metro.

Simply, it’s the right thing to do for our city, at the right time.

Forward-looking public transport infrastructure is critical to the future growth of this city. Our unique town centre design, along with our projected population growth to 600,000 people by the 2040s, lends itself perfectly to a fast, efficient and reliable light rail system.

It’s not just suitable, but necessary.

It’s the right thing to do for our community. We want everyone, no matter where they live, to be included in the social fabric of our city. We must reduce congestion and make getting around Canberra easier – to unlock productivity and lifestyle benefits.

The benefits of more people living close to great public spaces and places, with excellent public transport, also helps build the innovation economy by reaching a critical mass of thinkers and businesses in the one area.

It is good for drivers, not just for public transport users. If you drive up the Parkway in the morning, do you really want to be turning right and merging with the thousands of extra cars that would be on the road without Light Rail? Each tram takes 200 cars off the road.

It comes at the right price. It is a significant financial undertaking, but when you look at the economic and social benefits light rail will bring, and consider the economics of land use in our city, the decision is clear.

It builds for the future. We must invest now, when Canberra needs it, to yield long-term benefits. That is what good governments do, and it is what my Government will always do.

If you look at current population growth, and planned expansion, it makes sense Gungahlin to the City will comprise the first stage – it will the second largest district in Canberra, running a very close second the Belconnen.

By planning for the future – not stuck in short term opportunism – we will lock in the cost of this project in today’s dollars, but not have to make payments until 2019, and spread over 20 years.

But above all, Capital Metro is a vital project for economic activity in Canberra now – when we need it most.

Over the next 3 years alone 3,500 jobs will be created from the construction phase of this project.

Stage 1 of the Capital Metro light rail project from the city to Gungahlin is expected to deliver $406 million in transport benefits alone.
When you include the wider economic impacts associated with land use changes and increasing the density of activity along the proposed light rail corridor, all up there are expected to be $1 billion in economic benefits associated with stage one alone.

These are benefits we must unlock as soon as possible – and I am determined they flow to local sub-contractors and allied businesses.

I’ve been asked how the first phase of Light Rail will benefit those living in areas not directly serviced by that first stage.

That is a fair question.

The Capital Metro investment, as part of an integrated transport network, will benefit all users of our roads, parking and buses.

If you work in Civic, do you really want to be competing for a fixed number of parking spots with thousands of additional cars coming in from the North? Or be facing the increased congestion on our roads?

At the heart of the debate is this: picture Canberra in twenty years time WITHOUT light rail.

What does that city look like?

Without it, in 15 years everyone in Gungahlin travelling to the city will spend an hour in their car in the morning.

Everyone else will see their travel times blow out as they compete for lane space and car parks with the new residents.

For these reasons, I am unapologetic about moving quickly on this city building project.

We have just shortlisted two high-quality proponents and aim to settle on a final provider and have contract close in the first half of next year, and begin construction – begin hiring Canberrans – soon after.

In this respect, I am concerned, just as many in the Australia business and infrastructure community are, by the reported threats to rip up a signed and commenced Capital Metro contract.

Large scale investors and developers have started to use the term ‘sovereign risk’, which sends shivers down the spine of any responsible Treasurer around the country.

Every business person here knows that the system only works if we honour contractual commitments.

We are simply not big enough and attractive enough an investment destination to walk away from one major contract and expect private investors to bid for the next – for a start you could kiss goodbye to investment in a new convention centre.

That is what national and international investors are saying to me.

I trust cooler heads will prevail, because the city’s reputation is too important to use in political gamesmanship.

The wider transport network

Of course, light rail is but one important component of Canberra’s transport system.

Roads are a key part of how people move around the city, and that won’t change in our lifetime. That is why we’re improving every aspect of the driving experience, including strategic investments in our road network, to reduce congestion from your driveway to your car park.

We are starting the roll out of new smart parking technologies to assist people find parks more easily and reduce travel times – particularly during peak times.

In January, I announced the Innovation Review of Canberra’s Taxi Industry to best utilise new companies, like Uber, providing technology based transport solutions.

We welcome new market entrants, but must ensure the taxi industry remains viable, and that all players meet the necessary regulatory and safety requirements our community expects.

And we are beginning the process  reform of our bus network.  No one who lives in Canberra thinks our bus service is everything it could be. No one.

I won’t embarrass all of us (myself included) by asking how many people came to work by public transport today, but we all know the answer is ‘not many’.

This won’t be fixed overnight, and I am committed to change through conversation, not confrontation – but to be clear, our goal is service improvement, efficiency and rising patronage.

Spending more on buses without reform will not deliver the public transport improvements our city needs.

Urban renewal

My urban renewal focus goes hand in hand with transport reform.

Canberra’s structure is well-suited to intensification that is focused on centres and public transport routes.

Urban renewal along Canberra’s rapid public transit ways is being implemented progressively to minimise conflicts that occur between established areas and redevelopment.

Opportunities for businesses to locate in more affordable commercial accommodation are part of mixed-use developments along the rapid public transit corridors and in group centres.

A key element of this approach is the goal of a 50:50 mix of urban renewal and Greenfield development in our land release.

The mix provides housing choice, sustainable development within existing suburbs, and the best value use of land as a resource for the people as a whole.

Economic strategy, fiscal consequences

The Government’s active approach to strengthening Canberra’s economy will again be reflected in our 2015 Budget.

External actions, such as the Federal Government’s ongoing cuts and current policy paralysis – and internal requirements, such as delivering a comprehensive response to deal with Mr Fluffy once and for all – have made framing this year’s Budget more complex.

But the principles upon which I base the Budget, and the proposals my Government are working through now, remain the same: supporting a greater economic self-reliance through a more diverse industry base, and fostering our natural advantages, while ensuring all Canberrans are lifted by our successes.

Slashing and burning to meet short-term, politically-derived fiscal targets is no way to support an economy.

We will pursue a progressive economic strategy with prudent fiscal consequences, not a regressive short-term fiscal strategy that would have significant economic and social consequences for years to come.

Yes we do face some significant short-term pressures but our fundamentals remain strong: our unemployment rate of 4.5 per cent remains low relative to the national average of 6.3 per cent.

Economic growth, measured by gross-state product, has slowed recently as a result of the federal cut backs, but is still expected to increase 1.5 per cent in the year to June 2015.

This data reflects the ongoing resilience and diversification of our jobs market. I am proud that we have not repeated the outcomes of 1996.

The strength of this position is reflected in Standard & Poor’s confirmation of the ACT’s AAA stable credit rating. Of all the state and territory jurisdictions in the world, the ACT is only one of 27 to hold this rating – meaning we have one of the strongest balance sheets in the world.

Our clear Budgetary strategy in the face of these factors has been to support local business through tough times, foster new enterprises, and reform our tax base.

Self reliance: tax reform and business development

A key part of strengthening our economy and managing our budget is a taxation system that accurately reflects economic activity, while encouraging turnover, investment and expenditure.

Since I became Treasurer in 2011, I have been progressively bringing forward reforms to make our tax system fairer, simpler and more efficient, and to create greater fiscal and economic self-reliance over the long term.

This drove the major changes I announced in the 2012 Budget, such as the phased abolition of inefficient conveyance and insurance duties and their replacement with a broad based taxation regime.

Conveyance duty, for example, adds to the cost of buying a property, falls on a small number of people each year, and is difficult to predict.

Our reforms provide a more stable and sustainable revenue base.

They lower cost and regulatory burdens on business as well.

This is critical, because as you all know, local enterprise will play the major role in Canberra’s fortunes over coming years.

That’s why I am taking immediate, practical steps to make it as easy as possible to do business here, whether you are a small, medium or large company:

First, I established Access Canberra to create a single point of contact with ACT Government regulators for local business people and event organisers – Access Canberra will work with you to make your proposal happen.

Second, we are establishing a Local Industry Advocate.  My view is that if work can be done by local businesses, we should be taking steps to ensure that we build that capability and economic activity in our city. It’s really important that we don’t have over-engineered procurement processes which reward big players ahead of small players for no practical reason.

Third, I have prioritised cutting red tape across all areas of government.

There are obviously things that our bureaucracy can do better. That’s why my Government continues to bring forward Red Tape Reduction Bills to cut costs for business, and make our public sector focus on what really matters.

Fourth, I am implementing our business development strategy in full.

I recently reported to the Assembly that all 26 Business Development targets we set ourselves in 2013 have been achieved. This has included measures to attract foreign investment, and skilled and business migrants; grow our export capabilities; partner with our Universities to commercialise research; and maximise the value of the visitor economy.

But now is not the time to sit back. Building on this success, work is well underway on stage two of this strategy and I am pleased to announce today that it will include a new small business innovation research program.

This will see agencies across the ACT Government commit a portion of their budgets to working with small business on research partnerships.

Small, smart businesses will help government solve a problem and then use that solution to sell their talents to other clients, so they get new business not once, but potentially with numerous customers.

These have worked well in the US. I am confident this kind of smart procurement by the government can stimulate small businesses here.

Finally, I am personally making the case for direct international flights from Singapore and New Zealand.

I advocate this so strongly because I know it isn’t just about tourism opportunities, as important as that is.

The economic impact for the region is estimated to be $88 million and 690 jobs for landing direct Singapore flights, and $51 million and 395 jobs for Auckland.

You just have to look at the rapid increase in international exports of services from the ACT in the last ten years – topping $1.2 billion in 2013-14 – to see that international flights will make Canberra a truly global city.

The Knowledge Capital

I also want to outline the Government’s higher education policies, and what they mean for Canberra’s future industries and workforce.

When Kim Beazley was Chancellor of the ANU he would speak with great passion about the university’s mission as ‘nation building of the mind, in a city of the mind’.

This city needs to support industries that create wealth and attract new money into our economy – and there are few better ways to do that than commercialising local research, innovation and development.

Today, we must enable our universities to build on their strengths and attract the best prospective students, researchers, staff and investors.

I am working in a co-operative partnership to grow Canberra’s higher education sector – in particular, doing everything we can to create thriving campuses that attract employment and collaboration.

At least one in nine of our residents either work or study at a University in the ACT – the highest proportion of any city in Australia.

We have more than forty-four thousand students across ANU, UC, UNSW, ACU, Charles Sturt and CIT.

If you include the broader research sector, it adds 16 000 full time equivalent jobs, and contributes $2.6 billion a year to the ACT economy.

In the face of widespread uncertainty about where the sector is headed over the next decade, allowing our Universities to unlock revenue streams is more important than ever.

That’s why I have recently signed a Statement of Strategic Intent with the University of Canberra outlining our shared commitment to development and growth of the University’s Bruce campus.

Last week the Assembly passed the first of a suite of legislative reforms that will enable $1 billion in investment, development, expansion and job creation on the UC campus and in the surrounding community.

Those changes were accompanied by some wider debate about our local universities in the Assembly in recent weeks.

Speaking as Chief Minister of the ACT, and a graduate of our local schools and institutions, I’m proud of our universities, and proud of their leaders, never more so than when they are voices on the national stage.

Our city, our time

Today I have spoken mainly about the economy, but social inclusion is critical to building the best possible Canberra - a vibrant, multicultural, cohesive and supportive place to live.

I have appointed a new minister assisting on social inclusion and equality, Yvette Berry, and we will have more to say on this in the future.

I leave you today with the message that I am leading a new Government, with a new focus: one that assertively promotes and supports business in these challenging times, and one that has a clear vision for Canberra’s future.

Canberra is changing, and it takes leadership to make that change work for the benefit of all Canberrans.

My Government will be different from those that have come before.  Our economic circumstances demand a different approach.

I share the confidence and optimism of our community for the future – we know our city is truly coming into its own. Together, we’ll renew our city and strengthen our economy.

We’ll do this the Canberra way: creative and clever, innovating and investing, building for the future and sharing as a community.

Our values and strengths will ensure that this is Canberra’s century.

Thank you.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Government to work with CBR’s small businesses to create innovation opportunities

Chief Minister Andrew Barr has outlined plans to establish a Small Business Research Partnerships Program which will see a proportion of government procurement funds allocated to working with our innovative local businesses.

The program, which was announced as part of the Chief Minister's speech to the Canberra Business Chamber 2015 ‘State of the Territory’ Luncheon, will see a proportion of government procurement funds allocated to working with our innovative local businesses.

The Chief Minister said "The program will allow our smart small businesses to assist government through practical and innovative solutions to common problems that can then be sold to other clients outside of the territory".

"Similar models have been highly successful in the United States. I am confident that smart procurement can stimulate our small business sector and make the ACT a global leader in providing innovative services to government."

Sarah Pearson, Chief Executive of the CBR Innovation Network, says government and business will benefit from this initiative.

“Programs like this will help the ACT government get solutions that meet their specific needs, typically at lower cost than off-the-shelf options,” Dr Pearson said.

“This is crucial in helping our small businesses and entrepreneurs work with government, building their businesses and building Canberra’s reputation as a place that solves government challenges and exports those solutions.”

This initiative will be part of the government’s next Business Development Strategy. The Chief Minister recently reported to the Assembly that all 26 Business Development targets set in the previous strategy have been achieved. This included measures to attract foreign investment and skilled migrants, grow our export capabilities, partner with our tertiary education institutions to commercialise research and maximise the value of the visitor economy.

The Chief Minister said "My speech today also covered how the new Local Industry Advocate will work exclusively in the interests of the ACT business community to ensure work that can and should be done by local businesses stays in the ACT- building capability and economic activity in our city."

"The Advocate’s first job will be to work with local industry to identify improvements to government procurement processes. While the government will always get the best value for money for the community, it is important to do this in a way that creates opportunity for local business and continues the government’s renewal agenda."

"My address outlined how going forward, the ACT Government will continue to drive greater economic self-reliance through investment in projects like Capital Metro, which is vital for economic activity and job creation in Canberra. The project will benefit the whole city by employing 3500 people in its construction phase alone, revitalising the Northbourne corridor and taking thousands of cars out of city traffic and car parks" said the Chief Minister.

"I also reiterated how education is critical to the future of investment and jobs in our city. Our higher education and trades training institutions are employers, exporters and investors, and they must flourish for our city’s economy to be strong. That’s why I have recently signed a Statement of Strategic Intent with the University of Canberra, outlining our shared commitment to development and growth of the University’s Bruce campus."

"This month the Government also passed the first of a suite of reforms in the Legislative Assembly that will enable $1 billion in investment, development, expansion and job creation on the UC campus and in the surrounding community.

Canberra Company secures $2.1 million in Series A Funding Round

Local company Nexus eWater Pty Ltd have recently announced the successful closing of $2.1 million in Series A funding from Investors in the US, Australia and UK with proceeds assisting to complete the initial product roll-out in the US market.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said "The ACT Government recognises that innovation is the foundation of economic growth and competitiveness. We are committed to positioning Canberra as an innovation hub into the future, and I am pleased that the ACT Government was able to assist in the initial stages of Nexus eWater’s proof of concept with a grant through the Innovation Connect and Discovery Translation Funds."

"By securing this significant investment, Nexus has demonstrated that a small amount of assistance at an early stage has the potential to stimulate significant growth and economic returns."

Nexus eWater Pty Ltd has developed the world’s first practical, on-site water and energy recycler for new and existing homes, and is a prime example of a world-class technology start-up that has emerged from Canberra. The Nexus eWater Domestic Water and Energy Recycler allows home owners to conserve both energy and water by turning their grey waste water into a valuable resource.

The Innovation Connect program encourages innovation among local businesses and helps to develop new companies and technologies in Canberra by providing matched-funding grants of up to $50,000 to assist early stage ACT businesses and entrepreneurs to accelerate the development of products and services through commercialisation pathways.

Further information visit the Innovation Connect page.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Canberra start-up takes out ‘Your Shark Tank’ competition

Innovative local startup Enabled Employment has taken out Optus’ Your Shark Tank competition.

Enabled Employment’s success in the Your Shark Tank competition also comes in the same week as the company was named a finalist in the Startup Hero category of the Startup Smart Awards, making them a great example of the type of innovative start-ups that are emerging from Canberra.

The Canberra based startup provides an innovative new approach to eliminate the barriers to employment for people with a disability, using flexible arrangements to enable highly capable people with a disability to find productive and well-paid employment.

Enabled Employment’s innovative business model has been recognised and supported locally. The company, who are currently members of Entry29 Co-working which is located at the CBR Innovation Network, received early development funding under the ACT Government’s Innovation Connect program. They were also part of the first intake in the GRIFFIN Accelerator, a program also supported by the ACT Government in partnership with local entrepreneurs, mentors and investors.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said "The ACT Government recognises the importance of innovative entrepreneurs and startups and the significant role they play in growing and diversifying the local economy, both now and into the future, and I am pleased that the ACT Government has been able to assist Enabled Employment".

Optus says ‘yes’ to supporting big ideas and innovation, and Your Shark Tank invited companies from around Australia to submit their business ideas to  a judging panel. Earlier this week, Enabled Employment CEO, Jessica May pitched her startup to the panel of ‘sharks’ alongside the four other shortlisted competitors from across Australia.

The Innovation Connect program encourages innovation among local businesses and helps to develop new companies and technologies in Canberra by providing matched-funding grants of up to $50,000 to assist early stage ACT businesses and entrepreneurs to accelerate the development of products and services through commercialisation pathways.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

ACT Screen Industry Trade Delegation head to Hong Kong Film Market

The ACT Government, through the TradeConnectprogram, is supporting five production companies to be part of an ACT Screen Industry Trade Delegation to Hong Kong International Film & TV Market from 23–26 March 2015. ScreenACT CEO, Monica Penders, will lead the delegation to Hong Kong.

“There has been a growing engagement between Asia and the Australian screen industry in recent times, which provides terrific potential for ACT producers to work in partnership with the Asian film and television market. Members of the delegation will have an excellent opportunity to pave the way for sales, promote their projects and businesses, while also raising the ACT’s profile as a viable national and international production location,” Ms Penders said.

The ACT Screen Industry Trade Delegation members are:
  • ScreenACT – Monica Penders 
  • SilverSun Pictures – Andrew Marriott & Rohan Taylor 
  • JIA Films – Cindy Li & Robert Macklin 
  • Kreiworks – Lina Silva 
  • Peace Mountain Productions – Ian Hart & Jun Xiao 
  • Fillearth – Abhijit Deonath
The delegation supports producers and screen businesses that have substantial plans to build their  project slate in Asia. This may include seeking potential co-­‐productions and co-­‐financing partners from the Asian region, attaching distributors and sales agents, and building relationships with other screen companies. Many of the projects have a strong Asian focus, and the Hong Kong Film Market will present a fantastic opportunity to develop future collaborations.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Government delivers on strategy to assist local business

The ACT Government has continued to deliver on our goal to assist and promote the ACT’s private sector, with the successful implementation of all 26 initiatives the government committed to in the 2012 Business Development Strategy.

The strategy outlined a vision for a growing Canberra economy, building on a commitment to private sector growth and jobs. To achieve this, the government sought to foster the right business environment, support business investment and accelerate business innovation.

Some of the key achievements of the strategy, as outlined in the Business Development Strategy Implementation Report the Chief Minister tabled in the Assembly today include;
  • the establishment of the CBR Innovation Network;
  • the establishment of Invest Canberra;
  • the successful launch of the CBR brand;
  • the continuing commitment to regulatory reform and red tape reduction;
  • continuing taxation reform, including significantly reducing the number of companies that have payroll tax obligations;
  • the government’s commitment to the development of the visitor economy; and
  • the government’s commitment to the continued development of the higher education and research sector as a key to the further diversification of the ACT’s economy.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said" The ACT’s economy continues to perform extremely well, despite the job cuts inflicted on the ACT’s economy by the Federal Government. This is a clear indication that our economic development approach is paying dividends for the economy".

"But while we have achieved all the goals that we set our self in 2012, we realise that more needs to be done. In the next couple of months, I will be releasing an update to the Business Development Strategy that will set new actions and goals."

"The government will continue to help build an attractive business environment here in the ACT- bringing interstate and international investment to the capital. Promoting our exporting companies in overseas markets and driving the development of innovative companies and new entrepreneurs will be crucial to create a sustainable economy in the territory for our future generations."

View the Business Development Strategy Implementation Report.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Student internship program to foster long term relationships with Shenzhen

A new Canberra-Shenzhen Innovation Intern Exchange Program, which aims to bring together future innovation leaders from Canberra and Shenzhen in order to foster long term collaborative relationships, has been launched by Chief Minister Andrew Barr.

The Canberra-Shenzhen Innovation Intern Exchange Program is the first education outcome of the historic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the ACT Government and Shenzhen last year.

It will give two students from Canberra the opportunity to travel to Shenzhen and two Shenzhen based students to come to Canberra in order to develop their leadership skills in their chosen field and as future ambassadors for the two cities.

The program will also develop the interns’ understanding of cultures and give them the chance to learn the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) practices and innovation systems of the two cities in some of the most innovative companies and organisations in the world.
The ACT Government is committed to promoting our impressive tertiary institutions to national and international markets- supporting them to grow and attract students to the capital, which in turn supports jobs in the ACT economy.

The internship placements for Canberra students are expected to take place in Shenzhen in mid 2015 for four to eight weeks in duration. The ACT Government will provide funding support for the placements, including the cost of airfares and living expenses.

Applications for the new student intern exchange program between Canberra and Shenzhen are now open and Canberra tertiary students with an interest in innovation and entrepreneurship are encouraged to apply.

Students need to be studying full time, be Australian citizens and currently enrolled in second year or higher or have graduated within one year from a Canberra-based tertiary institution.

Applications close 6 April 2015. For more information visit the Canberra-Shenzhen Innovation Intern Exchange Program webpage.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Digital Canberra Challenge

Do you know about the Digital Canberra Challenge? It’s an initiative that seeks to engage Canberra’s brightest minds to help build and support a dynamic, healthy and prosperous Digital City for the 21st century.

The Digital Canberra Challenge (DCC) invites all Canberrans to get involved in thinking about how to improve our city. If you’re interested in being involved in helping our Government do things better, faster or more efficiently, then keep reading to find out how you can get involved.

How does it work? 

Canberrans are invited to put forward challenges of things they think the Government can improve on through the use of digital technology; things that can be done better, smarter, or faster.

The best two of these are then chosen and the ACT innovation community is invited to put forward their solutions. The top two innovator teams become the competitors who then have twelve weeks to develop a prototype solution and a case study. The teams are then judged with the winner receiving $12,500 and the runner-up $7,500.

What’s been happening so far?

The DCC started in 2013 and runs a new challenge every 6 months. We’re currently nearing the end of round 3 and round 4 will start soon.

There has been a diverse range of challenges so far, from making it easier to book ACT Government services (like road tests) to creating an app for patients and visitors to use while visiting The Canberra Hospital.

This round the challenges are: developing a digital public art installation and creating a whole of government image and video library that both the Government and public can access.

How do I get involved?

Do you have an idea?

If you’re interested in making our Government better and have some ideas to put forward, it’s really easy. All you need to do is write a few sentences explaining the situation, the opportunity for improvement and what you want to see achieved. Just go to the Digital Canberra website.

If your challenge gets picked, you’ll receive a Great Idea award. If your challenge isn’t picked this round, don’t worry, it will continue to be considered for future rounds.

Are you an innovator?

Make sure you keep up to date with Program and consider applying if you have a solution to one of the challenges. The challenge will provide you with a fantastic opportunity to get to work directly with a Government agency, to build connections within the innovator community and develop a solution to a real problem.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Discovery Translation Fund 2.0 Launched

Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) and the University of Canberra now have access to additional funding to assist them in turning their discoveries into real-world applications.

The jointly funded Discovery Translation Fund (DTF 2.0), managed by ANU Connect Ventures, offers researchers whose work shows great potential for commercialisation, access of up to $50,000 in support funding, as well as the skills, networks and experienced support needed to translate exploration based research into economic and social impact.

Launched today at the University of Canberra, DTF 2.0 has a total pool of $3 million over three years, and will build on the success of the first round of DTF, which was an initiative of the ANU and the ACT Government. Since 2011, DTF has assisted more than 30 projects take work from the lab to the world, in areas such as water and energy conservation in domestic settings, miniaturisation of dielectric materials for use in supercapacitors and work on therapeutics targeting breast cancer recurrence.

The new program, also managed by ANU Connect Ventures, will grow innovation and enterprise within the Canberra region.

“The Discovery Translation Fund has proven to be a crucial element of the region’s innovation pipeline,” said Nick McNaughton, CEO of ANU Connect Ventures. “Canberra’s evolution as a hub of entrepreneurship has been given a boost recently with the establishment of the CBR Innovation Network, GRIFFIN Accelerator and Entry 29 co-working space. The Discovery Translation Fund has been essential in seeding these activities, and the DTF 2.0 will ensure that the outstanding work being done at ANU and the University of Canberra will continue to play a prominent role.”

University of Canberra Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Frances Shannon said the program is a great opportunity for those who are thinking about making the most of their research through a commercial venture.

“Many researchers reach a point after making their discovery where they need some assistance in taking the next big step. DTF 2.0 will set them on the right path, giving them some much needed financial assistance and hopefully making all the difference between great research and a viable business venture,” Professor Shannon said.

ANU Pro-Vice Chancellor (Innovation) Professor Mick Cardew-Hall said the program would help turn innovative ideas into reality, and will continue to be a key contributor to demonstrating the commercial impact of research.

“Proof of concept funding is essential for bridging the gap between a discovery and its application, but a program such as DTF 2.0 also establishes a targeted focus for project development, ensuring research is applied where the market and community will see greatest value.” Professor Cardew-Hall said.

DTF 2.0 funding grants are awarded competitively, must have identifiable commercial potential and be completed within 12 to 18 months.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

International flights to NZ on the agenda

In the coming days, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr will be meeting with senior Ministers in New Zealand and tourism and aviation industry representatives in Wellington and Auckland to discuss a range of visitor economy issues, including international flights from Canberra airport.

The Chief Minister said "New Zealand visitors are the highest contributor to Australia’s tourism industry in annual visits, however the country ranks as number five in the ACT’s own tourist numbers due to lack of direct flights."

"Direct flights from New Zealand present a great opportunity to boost our tourism economy. The move would also provide travellers from the Canberra region with a gateway to access New Zealand in a significantly shorter time.'

"The $480 million investment by the Canberra Airport means that we now have a world class aviation facility capable of handling international flights. Attracting new air services will help grow the ACT and regional economy, creating hundreds of new jobs.  In the next few days, I will be discussing the ACT Government’s willingness to pursue direct flight services as part of our 2020 Tourism strategy. This will help achieve our goal to grow the value of overnight visitor expenditure into the ACT to $2.5 billion by 2020."

Also on the agenda this week is a meeting with Wellington City Council, Grow Wellington and Positively Wellington Tourism. Discussions will include:
  • respective tourism strategies;
  • city branding;
  • infrastructure development, specifically transportation systems;
  • innovation ecosystems; and
  • closer economic cooperation between the respective capitals of Wellington and Canberra.

"On Friday, I will be participating in the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum in Auckland, where key representatives from the trans-Tasman nations will discuss the strengthening ties in a variety of industries. I will also be visiting Christchurch to view the implementation of their urban renewal agenda in the wake of the devastating earthquakes that destroyed the city in 2010 and 2011."