Friday, 31 May 2013

Business Connect May Newsletter

The May issue of the Business Connect Newsletter is now available. Find out about recognition for the ACT export community, Investing in Canberra future and more.

View the Business Connect May Newsletter.

Business Connect Newsletter May Issue now available

Canberra innovation on show at CeBIT

A number of Canberra businesses recently showcased their innovative products and services at the 12th annual CeBIT Australia conference and exhibition.

Held in Sydney from 28-30 May, CeBIT is the leading information and communications technology business event in the Asia Pacific region, covering cloud, big data, enterprise mobility, security, government, interlogistics, and more.

Over 600 exhibitors, including a number of local businesses, were on show over the three days.

Canberra business eWAY showcased their innovative online payment systems. Developed by CEO Matt Bullock, eWAY allows businesses to accept credit cards payments online with the same ease, flexibility and security they had access to in their bricks-and-mortar stores. The payment gateway is now one of the most respected in the eCommerce industry, and is used by more than 12,000 customers including Qantas, 3M and Canon. Find out more about eWAY External Link - opens in new window.

The eWAY team demonstrates their online payment systems
The eWAY team demonstrates their online payment systems.
Fellow Canberra business EcoSpectral was also on exhibition at CeBIT this year. Founded in 2010, EcoSpectral received Innovation Connect grant funding to help develop energy efficient lighting solutions suitable for domestic, office and government applications. Their systems use scalable wireless networks that sense motion and ambient light as well as a suite of web based services that allow for the lighting system to be configured, controlled and maintained.  This creates a system that conserves energy, provides efficient autonomous lighting control and monitors the environment. Find out more about EcoSpectral External Link - opens in new window.

Founder David Keightley at the EcoSpectral stand
Founder David Keightley at the EcoSpectral stand.
Among the number of local ideas and inventions on display at CeBIT, was NICTA’s Event Watch. Developed at NICTA’s Canberra Research Laboratory, Event Watch is a Twitter monitoring tool that collects Tweets into meaningful clusters. In doing so, it allows users to gain an understanding of Twitter discussions on a particular organisation, person, place, or product, how they have emerged over time and the sentiments around them. Event Watch runs on live Twitter data, therefore giving users the opportunity to react and respond to the information. Event Watch is different from most hashtag and word based Tweet clustering tools by using keyphrase extraction, name entity recognition and sentiment analysis. Find out more about Event Watch External Link - opens in new window or watch a live demonstration External Link - opens in new window.

Dr Jon Gray of NICTA with the Event Watch demo
Dr Jon Gray of NICTA with the Event Watch demo.
Did your Canberra business exhibit at CeBIT Australia? Share your photos on our Facebook page External Link - opens in new window or tweet to @ACTGov_Business External Link - opens in new window.

Monday, 27 May 2013

A new way of supporting start-up companies

Entry 29 - Canberra’s new co-working space – was officially opened for business by Minister Barr MLA, ACT Minister for Economic Development on 22 May 2013.

Located in Childers St near the ANU, and named after Walter Burley Griffin’s design entry for Canberra, Entry 29 is aimed at accelerating the technology development process, whereby start up operators can mingle and collaborate with like minded individuals.

It also offers meeting facilities, access to mentors and other service providers, including business advisors and financiers. Entry 29 will generate income through membership fees, ranging from $22 for a day pass to $220 for unlimited monthly use.

Entry 29 has been driven by Canberra’s business community in direct response to a growing need for affordable Wi-Fi enabled accommodation for entrepreneurs and start-ups and it adds significantly to Canberra’s burgeoning innovation ecosystem. 

In speaking with the Canberra Times, Anna Pino, Entry 29 Board member and Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre chief executive said:

''I think what really drove me to do this is that over the last six months, we've realised there is this incredible entrepreneurial spirit in Canberra, but it's all underground,''.

''There are some incredibly talented people in Canberra, and we want somewhere where all [these] people can [be] seen.'' Read the full article, Entrepreneurial incubator heats up External Link - opens in new window.  

In launching the facility, Minister Barr commended Ms Pino as well as fellow Board members, Nick McNaughton and Rory Ford, for having the enthusiasm to get the project off the ground. He also thanked the support of Mick Cardew-Hall from the ANU as well as the many volunteers from that start-up community that helped get Entry 29 ready for business. 

Co-working spaces have become a global trend, with Mr Barr stating that there are more than 60 spaces operating in Australia. Worldwide, an additional three spaces opened every day during the past 12 months.

The ACT Government provided seed funding to help with Entry 29’s establishment.

To find out more visit the Entry 29 website External Link - opens in new window.

Entry 29, Canberra's newest co-working space
Entry 29, Canberra's newest co-working space

Minister Barr MLA, ACT Minister for Economic Development officially opens Entry 29
Minister Barr MLA, ACT Minister for Economic Development officially opens Entry 29

Friday, 17 May 2013

Are skills shortages affecting your Business?

SkillSelect is an online system which provides Australian employers with access to a pool of skilled workers who have expressed their interest in working in Australia, either on a temporary or permanent work visa.

This new system is part of a suite of major reform changes introduced by Department of Immigration and Citizenship on 1 July 2012, in an effort to ensure that skilled migration is responsive to changes in the Australia’s labour market.

Employers can easily search for suitable candidates across a number of key selection criteria such as experience, qualifications, language skills and/or willingness to work and live outside major metropolitan centres like Canberra. In their EOI, skilled workers can indicate an interest in employer sponsorship and the states and territories within Australia where they would be willing to live and work.

Once a business (employer) identifies a suitable potential skilled worker, they are able to send a message in SkillSelect to the skilled worker notifying them of their interest in discussing employment and sponsorship opportunities with them. When sponsorship arrangements have been established, the skilled worker’s EOI details are seamlessly transferred from SkillSelect to final assessment and processing systems.

If SkillSelect is an avenue you would like to consider to recruit the right skilled staff, you will need an AUSkey to login. If you don't have an AUSkey you can register for one on the AUSkey website External Link - opens in new window.

In the first instance though why not peruse the SkillSelect free online service External Link - opens in new window.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Lighthouse creates a first for fashion in Canberra

The ACT Government supported program, Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre External Link - opens in new window recently launched their latest endeavour, fashion boutique CBR Collective. Sponsored by Lighthouse and the Canberra Centre, CBR Collective has brought together 6 local designers to create the first fashion experience of its kind in Canberra.

The idea for the boutique came about through Lighthouse and Canberra Centre who wanted to create a six month fashion pop-up shop aimed at highlighting Canberra’s creative economy during the Centenary year.
“The boutique was conceived to create an environment where emerging designers can maximise their growth through mentoring, collaboration and exposure to the large number of shoppers visiting Canberra Centre each day,” said Anna Pino, CEO Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre.

After calling for expressions of interest, 6 local brands were selected: E4, FibreStudio Design, M&TM (Mec and the Maid), Pure Pod, Sofia Polak and T-Heinrich. Together, they have set off on a journey with experienced retail manager, Karla Groom, to offer a distinctive shopping experience in Canberra Centre for those looking for ready to wear and unique fashions and accessories for men and women.

Open seven days a week, the store gives the opportunity to get to know the designers, what inspires them, and learn about the philosophy behind their individual design labels. Collectively, they are planning events from designer’s nights to fashion parades to showcase the vibrancy and diversity of the Canberra design scene.

Lighthouse is also giving the opportunity for other local designers to get involved through permanent or casual spaces and consignment opportunities in the store. Alongside the collections of the founding designers, there are also home wares from Tango & James, jewellery from PNC Metalsmith and clothing from Hutch.
CBR Collective is located at Shop DF 16, Canberra Centre (near Trenery). 

To find out more email or visit the CBR Collective Facebook page External Link - opens in new window.

CBR Collective Boutique
CBR Collective Boutique

L-R: Rohan Thomas, Janette Lenk, Sara Poguet, Kelli Donavan and Anne Willsford, 5 of the designers that make up CBR Collective.
L-R: Rohan Thomas, Janette Lenk, Sara Poguet, Kelli Donavan and Anne Willsford, 5 of the designers that make up CBR Collective.

Friday, 10 May 2013

New Superannuation Reforms - Is your business ready?

Have you heard about the Australian Government’s new superannuation reforms? It’s time to take notice, as these changes will be affecting your business and its obligations –soon!

The first of the reforms to come into effect relates to the superannuation guarantee law, which sets out the super contributions you must pay to your eligible employees. From 1 July 2013, the minimum rate for contributions will rise from 9% to 9.25%. Over the next seven years, this will rise to 12%. To ensure you meet this new obligation, you need to update your payroll and accounting systems to apply the appropriate increase to the super guarantee rate.

From 1 July, superannuation funds will start to provide a new type of super account, called ‘MySuper’. ‘MySuper’ will replace existing default accounts offered by super funds, that is, the account chosen by you for an employee who does not choose their own super fund.

From 1 January 2014, if an employee has not completed a choice of fund form, you must pay their super contributions into a fund that offers a ‘MySuper’ account. It's a good idea to check with your current default fund to find out whether they will be offering a ‘MySuper’ account.

Also included in the set of reforms is a new data and e-commerce standard, aimed at making it easier for you to process super payments. The new standard is expected to reduce the time it takes to process super payments, lower transactions costs and provide you with a consistent, reliable, electronic method of making payments.

The new standard means you will be able to send super contributions to funds in one standard electronic format.

The date you need to have this new data and e-commerce standard implemented depends on your business size. If you have 20 or more employees you need to start using the new standard by 1 July 2014. If you have 19 or fewer employees you will need to start using the standard from 1 July 2015.

To find out more about these and other super reforms visit the Super Future External Link - opens in new window and Australian Taxation Office External Link - opens in new window websites.

Need help?

If you have 19 or fewer employees, you can use the Australian Government’s free online service, the Superannuation Clearing House, to complete your super payments and help meet your super obligations.
The service allows you to make one secure electronic transaction, with the Superannuation Clearing House then distributing this as superannuation contributions to your employees’ nominated superannuation funds.
Once set up, it only takes a few minutes to process payments, minimising the time and paperwork involved in paying contributions to numerous superannuation funds.

To find our more or to register for the service visit the Superannuation Clearing House website External Link - opens in new window.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Should your business be paying FBT?

Fringe benefits tax (FBT) returns are nearly due. So time to ask the question, should your business be lodging a return?

Fringe benefits are benefits that you provide to your employees or their associates, such as their family members. These are benefits in place or on top of their regular salary or wage.

Does your company provide fringe benefits to your employees? Ask yourself:
  • Do you make cars or other vehicles owned or leased by your business available to employees for private use, including a car garaged at an employee's place of residence?
  • Do you provide a house or other accommodation for your employees?
  • Do you provide entertainment such as food, drink or free tickets to your employees?
  • Do you pay the gym fees for an employee?
  • Do you provide your employees with living away from home allowances?
  • Do any of your employees have a salary package arrangement in place?
  • Have you paid for, or reimbursed, a non-business expense incurred by an employee such as school fees?
  • Have you provided your employees with goods at a lower price than they are normally sold to the public?
As an employer, you must pay fringe benefits tax (FBT) if you provide these types of benefits to your employees. It makes no difference if you are a sole trader, partnership, trust, corporation, unincorporated association or government body.

FBT is separate from income tax and is based on the taxable value of the fringe benefits provided. You may, however, claim an income tax deduction for the cost of providing fringe benefits and for the FBT you pay.

If you are liable for the tax, you must lodge a FBT return at the end of the FBT year. The FBT year is different from the standard financial year and runs from 1 April to 31 March. If this is the first year you will be lodging an FBT return, you will also need to register for FBT External Link - opens in new window.

FBT returns must be lodged with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) by 21 May 2013. If a tax practitioner is preparing your annual FBT return, different lodgement arrangements may apply.
To find out more about FBT visit the Australian Taxation Office website External Link - opens in new window.