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.