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.