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.