Friday, 28 June 2013

2013 Canberra BusinessPoint Awards

Canberra BusinessPoint External Link - opens in new window, the ACT Government's business mentoring and advisory service, launched their annual awards on Wednesday 26 June 2013.

The Canberra BusinessPoint Awards, launched this year by Minister Barr MLA, ACT Minister for Economic Development and Chris Faulks, CEO Canberra Business Council, showcase the range and depth of successful businesses operating in the Canberra region. They include six award categories: Web and Mobile; Clean and Green; Bricks and Mortar; Creative and Design; Micro-enterprise; and High Growth. One winner from these categories will also be named the Canberra BusinessPoint Business of the Year.

“The Awards recognise small businesses that have interacted with the Canberra BusinessPoint Program and gone on to achieve success over the past 12 months” said Ms Faulks.

“They typify those businesses that have worked hard and been innovative in order to succeed and grow.”

 Anna Pino, CEO Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre commented “Winning a Canberra BusinessPoint Award is a great way for a business to showcase their achievements and raise their profile.”

At the launch, a number of the 2012 award winners spoke about their experience including Tom Henderson, owner of the 2012 Canberra BusinessPoint Business of the Year, Jigsaw Housing.

Mr Henderson set up Jigsaw Housing in 2010 alongside business partner and award winning Canberra architect, Andrew Verri. The pair shared a vision to apply intelligent design principles to create homes that were energy efficient, comfortable and affordable. To help start and grow their business, Jigsaw Housing worked with Canberra BusinessPoint and Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre External Link - opens in new window, which also allowed them to access the Entrepreneur Development Fund External Link - opens in new window.  Find out more about Jigsaw Housing involvement with Lighthouse External Link - opens in new window.

“Last year’s winner of the Canberra BusinessPoint Business of the Year Award is an example of the calibre of ACT businesses and their success in identifying and servicing new, niche or expanding markets,” said Ms Faulks.

Jigsaw Housing has now become a leader in the innovative, emerging field of integrative design offering a comprehensive energy efficient-focused, residential building services including design, construction and thermal performance assessment. They were named business of the year after winning the Clean and Green Category at the 2012 awards. Find out more about Jigsaw Housing External Link - opens in new window.

Other winners in the 2012 Canberra BusinessPoint Awards include CloudCentral, who took out the Web and Mobile category. CloudCentral offers highly scalable, secure, dynamic cloud infrastructure services, with a focus on providing services to Australian software developers, IT service providers, enterprise and government customers. They too have been involved with Canberra BusinessPoint and Lighthouse, and have also received financial support through the ACT Government’s Innovation Connect grant program.

“CloudCentral is currently facing the challenges of any rapidly growing startup company which include sourcing the right people, establishing a quality management team, and raising capital. We are actively engaging with the ACT Government, Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre and Canberra BusinessPoint to help us overcome these challenges presented" said Kris Sheather, founder of CloudCentral after the win. Find out more about Cloud Central External Link - opens in new window.

Applications are now open for the 2013 Canberra BusinessPoint Awards. Entries close 5pm 23 August 2013.

Winners of the awards will be announced at the Award Ceremony on 21 November 2013.

Find out more about the 2013 Canberra BusinessPoint Awards External Link - opens in new window.

Friday, 21 June 2013

ACT film industry makes its mark on Cannes

In May, a delegation from the local Canberra film industry headed over to Cannes to take part in Marche du Film, the annual film market that takes place alongside one of the world’s major film festivals, Festival de Cannes.

This year was the first time a collective group representing the ACT Screen Industry attended the market. The group of 10, led by ScreenACT External Link - opens in new window Director, Monica Penders, included a number of Canberra-based producers and the ACT Screen Investment Fund Manager.

ScreenACT has been working hard over the past years to develop the feature film industry in Canberra. Before leaving, Ms Penders said ''We've just been doing so much development over the last two years, it's timely for us to do this''.

“ScreenACT has been working closely with the producers to maximize the opportunity and exposure.  Going as a group means we can support each other, keep costs down and really get the most out of the market by keeping our eyes open for not only personal opportunity but for one of the other local producers”. Read more in the ‘Canberra Times’ article, Future Fellinis prepare to flaunt films at Cannes External Link - opens in new window.

Marche du Film has grown from humble beginnings with a few dozen participants and one screening room in 1959. Now, 50 years later, the market sees over 11,000 participants annually from over 100 different countries, making it one of the most important meeting places for the industry. Participants consist of a wide range of the film industry including international sales agents, distributors, production companies, national and state film agencies and investors. Find out more about the Marche du Film External Link - opens in new window.

The group took over a number of completed productions and projects in development, including ‘Me & My Mates vs the Zombie Apocalypse’, produced by Daniel Sanguineti, and ‘The Farmer’, produced by Andrew Einspruich, which both came out of ScreenACT's low-budget feature initiative.

To help support this export market development activity, the producers also received matched dollar funding assistance though the ACT Government’s Trade Connect grant program. Both the Trade Connect program and the ACT Screen Investment Fund are initiatives within Growth, Diversification and Jobs: A Business Development Strategy for the ACT.

“We had some great group opportunities – to meet with among others, the producer of Twilight; the head of acquisitions for Warner Bros UK and international sales agent Simon Crowe – who all gave us top tips on getting the most out of Cannes and the market” Ms Penders said following the trip.

The ACT representatives held many individual as well as group meetings, including some that were arranged by Screen Australia External Link - opens in new window specifically for the ACT delegation.

Overall, the ACT delegation  had a successful trip to Cannes, with Ms Penders stating “The first overseas film market Trade Mission was more successful than I anticipated with a number of the teams actually getting offers for distribution from international sales agents and distributors for completed low budget feature projects and other films that are in development.”
This included:
  • a feature film that received serious interest from Australian based international sales agents,
  • a completed Zombie feature film, whose producer is now in negotiation with an international sales agent, and
  • a completed low budget film whose producer is in negotiation with a sales agent for the South American Territories.
“To see the difference between the first day and the last – the ACT representatives were out there making multiple meetings, working the market and getting firsthand knowledge of just how global a product film is” said Ms Penders.

“I am looking forward to Berlin in February with some new additions to this group and hope that these trade missions will be a yearly event on the ScreenACT calendar.”

ScreenACT Director, Monica Penders presents Patrick Strafford, Head of Acquisitions for Warner Bros UL with a boomerang.
ScreenACT Director, Monica Penders presents Patrick Strafford Head of Acquisitions for Warner Bros UK with a boomerang.

Part of the ACT team that attended Marche du Film

International Village pavilion set up for Marché du Film
International Village pavilion set up for Marche du Film

Friday, 14 June 2013

NICTA Farewells Founding Board Member

At its May board meeting, NICTA External Link - opens in new window, Australia’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Research Centre of Excellence, farewelled board member Brand Hoff.

Mr Hoff had been involved with NICTA since its inception and is one of the longest servicing board members.  He has more than 40 years experience in the ICT industry, including the development of the Australian Bibliographic Network for the National Library of Australia as well as work with the Treasury department.

In 1985, Mr Hoff founded TOWER Software Engineering, a business he grew into a Canberra-based multinational.  The business received numerous industry accolades including three Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) iAwards, ACT Small Business of the Year, NSW Emerging Exporter of the Year and the National AusIndustry Innovation Award. TOWER, which developed the TRIM content management software, was sold to Hewlett Packard in May 2008, following a formal takeover offer.
Mr Hoff is well known and highly respected member of the Canberra business community. He is the immediate past Chair of the Canberra Business Council and continues to serve the Council as a board member.

In 2011, Mr Hoff was awarded the National Pearcey Medal, one of Australia’s most prestigious Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry awards, for a lifetime contribution to ICT.  Dr Ian Oppermann, former Director ICT Centre, CSIRO presented the award, stating that Mr Hoff’s “pioneering efforts in Electronic Records Management Systems positioned Australia as the world’s leader in the creation and use of this now pervasive technology”.

“It is the individual efforts of people like Mr Hoff that exemplify how Australia can successfully innovate and improves its productivity.” Read more about the 2011 National Pearcey Medal External Link - opens in new window.

Following this, in 2012, Mr Hoff was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. Read more in the 'Canberra Times' article, IT giant-killer 'chuffed' over recognition External Link - opens in new window.

In farewelling Mr Hoff, Neville Stevens AO, NICTA Board Chairman said that Brand was departing after ten years of dedicated service.

“With his first-hand experience building and running a successful software company, he has helped develop a strong and vital entrepreneurial culture at NICTA. He will be missed.”

Mr Hoff responded stating “It has been a great privilege to serve as a NICTA Board Member and I am very proud to have contributed to the growth of NICTA from conception through to maturity.”

“NICTA is now ten years young and has a strong national and international reputation for research, innovation and commercialisation. I believe the digital revolution has only just begun and Australia is fortunate to have an ICT centre of excellence like NICTA to help navigate to the digital future.”

At the same meeting, Mr Stevens also farewelled fellow board member Barney Glover. The two retiring members were replaced by IBM Australia’s Research Director Glenn Wightwick and Southern Cross University’s Vice-Chancellor Peter Lee. Read more in NICTA welcomes two new Board members External Link - opens in new window.

Brand Hoff
Retiring NICTA Board Member, Brand Hoff.
Source: Canberra Business Council

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

ACT Budget 2013-2014: Supporting Growth, Diversification and Jobs

On 4 June 2013, ACT Treasurer Andrew Barr handed down the 2013-14 ACT Budget, a budget about building and transforming Canberra for a prosperous and sustainable second century.

Within the budget, he acknowledged Canberra’s connected and collaborative private sector –a hub for a growing regional economy – and outlined support initiatives for local businesses to ensure they continue to thrive.

These initiatives continue through the implementation of Growth, Diversification and Jobs: A Business Development Strategy for the ACT, released by Minister Bar in April 2012. They encourage businesses and our economy to grow and diversify, and assist businesses to create jobs. Placing a high priority on market-based approaches that broaden employment and business growth, the initiatives aim to improve Canberra’s competitiveness and economic sustainability. They focus on small to medium enterprises and broadening the role of the private sector by providing targeted funding and support to local businesses and helping to attract new businesses and investment.

This includes supporting Territory businesses to sell their goods and services to the world, with $1.5 million in funding committed to the Global Connect program over a period of two years. Global Connect consists of a range of programs to raise awareness among ACT businesses about exporting, promote collaboration among local exporters, increase the number of local exporters and help them tap into new markets. This is delivered through a number of programs including the Trade Connect grant program, the ACT Exporter’s Network External Link - opens in new window and the ACT Chief Minister’s Export Awards External Link - opens in new window. Read more about the Global Connect funding announcement.

In addition to this, over $5 million has been committed to other initiatives within Growth, Diversification and Jobs: A Business Development Strategy for the ACT. Innovation is a major focus of this, with:
  • $3 million for NICTA External Link - opens in new window, Australia's centre of excellence for information and communication technology research;
  • $650,000 for the Innovation Connect grant program, designed to help Canberra based businesses develop innovative products and services; 
  • $300,000 for the Strategic Opportunities Funding Program, which provides seed funding for the establishment of new innovation infrastructure and collaborative projects in the university and research sector; and
  • $100,000 for the My Digital City innovation prize to stimulate the development of digitally based government services.

The ACT Government is facilitating a business friendly environment through payroll tax reform and reducing red tape. A total of $180,000 was committed to support the already ongoing work of the Red Tape Reduction Panel External Link - opens in new window.

Further support is also provided for business investment, with the development of a brand strategy to shape and promote Canberra comparative advantage as well as committing $520,000 to the newly launched InvestACT program.  This will help allow the InvestACT team to support proactive investment facilitation by providing business intelligence on the Canberra market and supporting potential investors to develop opportunities in the Capital region.

The ACT Government’s expectation is that over the medium to long term, the initiatives within the Business Development Strategy, working in concert with other aligned strategies and approaches of the Government, will lead to measurable diversification and growth in the private sector.

View the full ACT Budget 2013-2014 External Link - opens in new window.