Showing posts with label Business Development Strategy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Business Development Strategy. Show all posts

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.

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 February 2015

Local entrepreneurs and business start ups get helping hand

Chief Minister Andrew Barr, CBRIN CEO Sarah Pearson and Griffin Accelerator CEO Craig Davis

On Friday 13 February 2015 ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr MLA launched the 2015 GRIFFIN Accelerator program; a program conceived and managed by Canberra entrepreneurs who invest in, host, teach and mentor selected start-ups to create successful new businesses.

GRIFFIN has already completed one very successful program last year with all five participating start up companies receiving investment offers from around Australia at the end of the three month immersive commercialisation program. The 2015 GRIFFIN program will be bigger than 2014, with early planning to support up to 10 new innovative business start-ups.

The Chief Minister said "The ACT Government has placed support for business innovation centrally in its economic development agenda. We know that business innovation and entrepreneurship are essential to expanding the city’s economic base, diversifying our economy and creating new jobs for the future. Our policies and programs to in this area have been successfully guided by Growth Diversification and Jobs, A Business Development Strategy for the ACT"

"In my Ministerial Statement to the Legislative Assembly earlier this week, I announced new directions around procurement reform and advocacy for local SMEs and these directions will form an important part of a second phase of Business Development Strategy to be released in the first half of this year. Greater synergy between innovation policy and government procurement is something I know the business community is keen to see."

"I am delighted the ACT Government has been able to play a role in the establishment of the Griffin Accelerator through administrative funding support in 2014, and in 2015 through our support for the CBR Innovation Network" said the Chief Minister.

Innovators and entrepreneurs from Canberra and Australia are encouraged to apply for the GRIFFIN accelerator’s three month program supported by the CBR Innovation Network. For more information visit the GRIFFIN Accelerator website External Link - opens in new window.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Seven Canberra businesses share in Innovation Connect funding

Congratulations to the seven Canberra-based businesses who have been awarded funding from the recent round of the Innovation Connect program.

Innovation Connect is the ACT Government’s flagship innovation program which provides matched-funding grants of up to $50,000 to assist early stage Canberra businesses and entrepreneurs to accelerate the development of products and services through commercialisation pathways.

Since the program was established in 2008, funding of more than $3.5 million has been awarded to 142 local businesses, and that amount was at least matched by all of the grant recipients.

This round’s successful grant recipients were:
  • Burnology Pty Ltd - A web-based collaborative mapping and intelligence management system for use before, during and after emergency incidents;
  • Davoodi Pty Ltd - The development of AutoMed – an automatic, self-adjusting medication system for livestock complete with a mobile and cloud-based management system and data recorder;
  • Ezygene Pty Ltd - Development of a DNA diagnostic kit for identification of Pseudomonas bacteria suitable for commercial sale;
  • Rosemark Water Tanks - The development of a full scale working prototype of an innovative water storage solution designed to remove space, cost and aesthetic barriers to greater water tank adoption;
  • Pendulum Technology Pty Ltd - Bindle the new way to travel. A mobile application that leverages crowd sourced information to help users help themselves. Bindle enables travellers to connect with one another around the world and revolutionises the traditional travel guide as it stands today;
  • MediSen Solutions Pty Ltd - The development of an electronic portal that places control of claims in the hands of the health care providers; and
  • Pictionist - The goal of Pictionist is to revolutionise how people search for images and pictures within an organisation. This will be achieved through implementation of an image search engine that can be customised based on specific characteristics such as image colour, visual structure, and metadata.

Further information visit our Innovation Connect page.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

ACT Budget 2014-15: Investing in Canberra

On 3 June 2014, ACT Treasurer Andrew Barr handed down the 2014-15 ACT Budget, a budget about investing in Canberra to maintain growth in our economy and support local jobs.

This includes $2.5 billion investment over four years in a capital program - the largest ever by an ACT Government – which will help progress transformational projects such as Capital Metro, Australia Forum, City to the Lake and new court facilities. It also includes investment in the tourism and events, education, health and community sectors.

The ACT Government recognises local businesses as the lifeblood of the economy and it is hoped these investments will deliver the transformative infrastructure needed to support businesses for the long term. As part of the budget there is also a range of new and continuing initiatives aimed specifically at helping businesses to grow and create jobs.

This includes the acceleration of payroll tax reform which will see the threshold rise from $1.75 million to $1.85 million in 2014-15. For businesses with a payroll of $2 million this will mean a saving of $6,850 per year.

Combined with the 2012 payroll tax cuts, this means Canberra businesses, on average, are each paying $25,000 less payroll tax annually than before the reforms.

In his Budget speech, Minister Barr said “Businesses in Canberra continue to benefit from our tax reform agenda. Stamp duty continues to come down and insurance taxes will be fully abolished in 2016.”

The ACT Government recognises the burden government regulation imposes on business and so this Budget brings red tape reduction to the fore, with specific actions right across government.

During 2014-15, the ACT Government will set up a new forum to give business a direct voice in regulatory reform prioritisation.

Businesses will also be able to interact with government easier, with funding commencing for the digital project, iConnect. When fully developed, iConnect will give access to many government services and payment transactions through a single sign on.

As part of its commitment to making Canberra a digital city, the ACT Government will also introduce electronic tendering which will modernise the process for businesses seeking to work with the Government and reduce the administrative burden on small business.

The 2014-15 ACT Budget also provides continuing support for Canberra’s entrepreneurs.

To help those affected by Commonwealth Government job cuts stay in Canberra and build a new future, a specially tailored program will be implemented to provide them with support to start their own business.

Young entrepreneurs will also benefit from the budget through the new Young Business Connect program. The $300,000 program will provide assistance to young entrepreneurs, helping them to develop their ideas and establish new local businesses. This will include business planning and market development advice, connections to specialist advisors and business mentors and assistance in attracting start up funding.

The recently announced CBR Innovation Network, which will provide a more joined up approach to the delivery business services and advice, will have an important role to play in shaping the delivery arrangements for these new programs.

ACT businesses are the heart of our economy and community and this package of measures aims to invest in our city and our economy in partnership with the business community.

View the full ACT Budget 2014-15 External Link - opens in new window.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

CBR Innovation Network: A new approach to promoting innovative businesses

The ACT Government is announcing an overhaul of how businesses are supported to grow, innovate and create jobs.

Innovative start-ups and companies with the potential for rapid growth will benefit from the new approach to supporting business in the ACT, with industry stakeholders helping shape the services provided for entrepreneurs and innovation focused companies.

The establishment of the CBR Innovation Network will see an overhaul of Government investment in business innovation through a new body, overseen by industry experts that will provide a more focused approach to supporting businesses.

In February this year the Economic Development Directorate held a workshop with over 30 of the key stakeholders with an aim to build a tripartite approach to innovation.

The workshop recommended the establishment of an innovation network that would connect potential high growth businesses to a range of services, activities and mentors that would assist them to grow and create wealth.

To implement this vision the CBR Innovation Network will be established with the following features:
  • The network will deliver services, programs and support to a wide cross section of growth oriented companies and entrepreneurs; 
  • The network will have a physical location and will also have a charter of outreach that establishes multiple delivery points or partner delivery arrangements;   
  • It will be managed by the stakeholders under a governance structure shaped and agreed by the stakeholders. Potential stakeholders include the ANU, CSIRO, NICTA and the University of Canberra and other partners who want to join the network. The ACT Government will also have representation on the management body for the network;
  • The network will be structured so that smaller players are able to have a role in the direction of the network;
  • The ACT Government will contract the network to provide a range of services to potential high growth businesses, including mentoring, access to capital, skills development, managerial skills and links to international supply chains amongst many;
  • The network will provide a ‘triage model’ for all entities that contact it, but with services that engage quite deliberately and effectively with potential high growth businesses; and
  • The services of the network will be made available to all potential high growth companies, not just companies spun out of research institutions or ICT companies.

The Government will continue its commitment to assisting all general start-up and early-stage businesses in the ACT. The existing Canberra BusinessPoint service including the existing web site will be transferred to the network and will be supported by a telephone and email service.

The CBR Innovation Network, expected to commence operations in late 2014, will complement the ACT Government’s earlier announcement to establish a Digital Hub, centred on Garema Place.

Professor Michael Cardew-Hall, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Innovation and Advancement), ANU, welcomed the announcement of the network.  “A vibrant and well connected Canberra Innovation Eco-system is essential to research institutions such as the ANU in enabling the commercial translation of world leading research, ” Professor Cardew-Hall said.

Dr Phil Robertson, Chief Operating Officer of NICTA, welcomed the announcement of the CBR Innovation Network and its role in catalysing engagement across the innovation community. “NICTA has a strong commitment to supporting innovation in the ACT, particularly where ICT is having a transformative impact on business and enabling new, high-growth opportunities,” Dr Robertson said.

Professor Frances Shannon, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) at the University of Canberra also welcomed the Network.  “The University of Canberra has a strong commitment to innovation and is supportive of a collaborative approach that will be facilitated through the CBR Innovation Network,” Professor Shannon said.

The CBR Innovation Network gives effect to the third strategic imperative of the Business Development Strategy to accelerate innovation in the ACT.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Chief Minister's ‘State of the Territory’ address

On Thursday 13 March 2013, Chief Minister Katy Gallagher MLA delivered the ‘State of the Territory’ address. In her address, the Chief Minister outlined the ACT Government’s commitment to supporting local jobs, developing the city centre and transitioning Canberra to a modern, digital city.

If you missed her speech, below are some of the key points raised or you can read the full ‘State of the Territory’ address on our website.

  • The ACT Government’s long-term commitments to economic reform and fairness in our community continues.
  • The ACT Government awaits the handing down of the next federal budget and the government’s Commission of Audit with interest.
  • It’s six months since the federal election and the start of a series of cuts to Commonwealth agencies; two years since the federal spending contraction began in earnest; and six years since the Global Financial Crisis first sent tremors through our economy.
  • Throughout this period, the fundamentals of the ACT economy have remained strong:
    • forecast economic growth for 2013-14 is unchanged from last June (1.75%)
    • retail trade figures are positive (growth of 3.4% in year to January 2014)
    • population growth remains steady, and
    • employment growth in our economy is slow, but steady.
  • Unemployment remains at 3.8% – the lowest in the country. This is helping keep other economic vitals such as housing and retail activity in shape.

Stimulus and job creation

  • Protecting the livelihoods of working Canberrans remains a core priority throughout 2014.
  • The ACT Government has worked hard to earn economic credentials, a strong budget position and a triple A credit rating and these advantages will be used strategically.
  • The ACT Government has created capacity for government to invest in productive infrastructure which attracts private sector buy-in and delivers a long-term dividend to our economy. The $480 million Canberra Airport project is an example of this.
  • The ACT Government have been able to act to pump-prime the construction sector through the stimulus package announced recently. Find out more about the stimulus package.

ACT Budget

  • The ACT Budget – as 9% of our economy – can respond to federal belt‑tightening, but not savage austerity.
  • The ACT’s exposure is easy to see:
    • the Commonwealth’s ACT workforce is three times the size of our own and we cannot absorb large redundancies
    • our GST revenue continues to decline relative to the services it’s supposed to pay for and further cuts to that will hurt
    • direct funding for vital reforms and community services, if cut, would undermine hard-won gains for our schools and some of our most vulnerable citizens.
  • The ACT Government is resolute in delivering on promises made including our commitments under national reforms.
  • The ACT is heading towards a 9% improvement in the efficiency of our tax base by 2016-17 – in other words, a yield of $57 million for the ACT economy which is no longer absorbed by administration and compliance.
  • Sales activity in the commercial sector has increased following the decision to drop commercial conveyance duty to 5.5% for properties valued at $1.65 million or greater – now amongst the lowest rates in the country.
  • The ACT Government’s support for small business through the reduction of payroll tax is also delivering important support, both to individual businesses and to the government’s drive for diversification.

City Plan and Capital Metro

  • The Chief Minister released the final version of the City Plan (previously released in draft form) which shows a step forward in the transformation of our city centre. Find out more about the city plan External Link - opens in new window.
  • The City Plan creates a blueprint for the transformation including: a framework for extensive residential growth in Civic; plans to progress major infrastructure projects; and a permanent bridging of the divide between the city and the lake.
  • The government will be announcing fast tracking some of the next stages of the City to Lake Project. Find out more about the West Basin Waterfront design fast tracking External Link - opens in new window.
  • The Chief Minister will be promoting the project in China next month as part of the Prime Minister’s trade delegation, and the Deputy Chief Minister will be doing the same in Singapore and in Hong Kong in June.
  • One of the defining features of the City Plan is the introduction of light rail as the spine of our future public transport network and catalyst for an economic resurgence along Northbourne Avenue. Capital Metro is not only a transport solution, it’s a city-building project – a major capital investment which delivers against other key priorities.

Related Priorities

  • The City Plan reflects broader elements of the government’s productivity and public health agenda relating to support for active living.


  • The ACT Government has a diversification agenda which is lead by the Deputy Chief Minister, and is heavily focused on growing the economy through human capital. This program is yielding results: sustained growth in higher education exports; our IT industry maturing and attracting global attention; and regional tourism continuing to grow.
  • The ACT’s tertiary institutions are at the heart of our growth as a knowledge-based economy.
  • More than 10,000 international students are spending more than $440 million in the ACT economy each year and the education sector now generates 11% of our tourist activity.
  • Looked at in its whole, this sector contributes $2 billion to our economy. No other jurisdiction has an education industry so significant to its makeup, which is why the ACT must continue to assert itself as Australia’s learning capital.
  • The ACT Government is working at a strategic level to identify the future opportunities in this sector and promote it to the world – most notably through the StudyCanberra program.

Digital Canberra

  • The Chief Minister released the Digital Canberra Action Plan. Find out more about the Digital Canberra Action Plan External Link - opens in new window.
  • Backed by a $4.4 million investment, the plan shows the government’s vision to develop and promote Canberra as a modern, dynamic, digital city. It provides the roadmap of how the government is going to accelerate business engagement with the digital economy and help businesses access new customers and markets.
  • Initiatives include:
    • The roll out of free Wi-Fi in Canberra will start in Civic from the second half of this year. Free Wi-Fi will then roll out in other town centres and commercial precincts.
    • Garema Place becoming the centre of digital innovation in Canberra through the creation of a dedicated digital space and digital screen. 
    • Digital Business Capacity Building Workshops which will respond to research the government carried out last year around the digital capabilities and needs of the ACT business community.
    • Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics internships which will offer the private sector support in training of their staff.
    • The Innovation Pitch Panel which will create a forum for local innovations aimed directly at the ACT Government.
To find out more about these key points read the full ‘State of the Territory’ address.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Invest Canberra: ready for business

Today Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr launched Invest Canberra, the ACT Government’s investment agency to promote and attract national and international direct investment.

Attracting investment in Canberra was identified as one of the key initiatives of Growth, Diversification and Jobs: A Business Development Strategy for the ACT, which was launched last year. In implementing this initiative, the ACT Government has established Invest Canberra, a dedicated investment facilitation service that will be promote Canberra’s investment credentials, explore and target opportunities.

Invest Canberra will provide investors with a single point of contact to assist with market intelligence, support through and after the investment process, and with business connections. Invest Canberra will also bring together capabilities across key government agencies, and will respond quickly to investment leads.

Invest Canberra is underpinned by a confidence in Canberra’s strong and diverse economy. The Government is committed to promoting a strong investment pipeline to promote economic growth and facilitates opportunities to create more private sector jobs.

The renewed focus on investment comes at an important time for Canberra. The Government, together with key private sector partners, has begun an extensive infrastructure program to transform our city including Capital Metro, the Canberra Airport and the City to the Lake project.

With a focus on meeting the needs of foreign-owned companies seeking investment opportunities in Canberra and the region, in the short term Invest Canberra will:
  • Promote and secure investment into key infrastructure projects that meet the immediate needs of business, government and the community; and
  • Promote retention, reinvestment, collocation and expansion by existing foreign investors in the ACT.

In the longer term, the agency will:
  • Secure investment in innovation and new technologies, in close association with our universities and technology companies; and
  • Attract investment from international institutions that will find Canberra suitable as a government city location for their international headquarters.

In line with the short-term objectives, Invest Canberra will initially focus on the following priority investment projects:
  • Aftercare of existing investors to promote reinvestment; 
  • Capital Metro and City to the Lake, and other investment-ready ACT Government projects; and
  • Renewable energy investment projects.

Canberra plays a leading role in finding solutions to local, national and global challenges. With a strong economy, a vibrant and well-educated community, and a collaborative and innovative business community, Canberra offer investors a pro-business culture.

The launch of Invest Canberra marks the beginning of a new, proactive approach to attracting investment.

Find out more by visiting the Invest Canberra website External Link - opens in new window.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

A new Brand. A new way to think about Canberra.

Canberra prepares for the next 100 years.

CBR logo

Building on the momentum and success of Canberra’s Centenary year, the ACT Government has revealed a new city brand that will carry the story of Canberra into the next 100 years.

The project aims to shift perceptions of Canberra and to encourage more people to engage with Canberra as a place to live, work, learn, visit and invest.

Canberra is a place to stimulate your senses, engage your mind and fire your imagination. Big ideas emerge, circulate and grow here, thanks to unique links between leading thinkers in business, government, education and research.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said the brand is a platform to tell all aspects of the Canberra and region story.

“When we started thinking about the lasting legacy from our centenary year, it became clear that we really needed to capitalise on the community and city pride that has emerged over the last 12 months,” the Chief Minister said.

“Early on in the year we got a real sense that people were feeling not only more connected to their city but were feeling really proud to call Canberra their home.

“This is not about just giving Canberra a new logo. Our city ‘brand’ has to be a collective idea – and a collective advocacy – about who we are and what we have to offer – a brand which truly represents what Canberra is all about.”

The brand architecture and visual identity is the product of a 15-month brand development process led by Generation Alliance and Coordinate. It involved extensive research, community consultation, strategy development and graphic design.

University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen Parker said the new brand represented Canberra well.

“Innovation and education are major elements of Canberra’s brand. It’s important that we position our city as a national and international destination for education and research, creating jobs and building a more vibrant culture,” Professor Parker said.

A further three months of community and stakeholder engagement will take place before the detailed program will be revealed in March 2014.

To learn more about Canberra’s brand and understand the journey about how it was created please visit External Link - opens in new window and use #CBR to join the conversation on Twitter.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Growth, Diversification and Jobs: 2013 Implementation Report

On 17 September 2013, Minister Barr MLA, ACT Minister for Economic Development, presented an implementation report on the ACT Government's Business Development Strategy:
Today I would like to take the opportunity to update the community on the Government’s strategy to promote innovation and the creation of jobs in the ACT. Just over 12 months ago I launched ‘Growth, Diversification and Jobs: A Business Development Strategy for the ACT’.

The strategy outlines a vision for a growing Canberra economy building on a commitment to private sector growth and jobs that is the hallmark of ACT Labor Governments.

The Gallagher Government is committed to ensuring our economy continues to grow, and continues to provide jobs.

Our private sector is growing, becoming more diverse, and creating a wider range of knowledge-intensive jobs.

The ACT Government intends to support this growth by providing the right environment in which businesses can invest, employ and innovate.

We are doing this through the Business Development Strategy.

In the 21st century, growth in modern industrialised economies and regions, such as the ACT, will come not from smokestacks and mines, but from high-tech, knowledge-intensive businesses.

The good news is that the ACT has a strong foundation in this area – a strong private sector – on which to build.

What the Business Development Strategy does is provide the right support, to capitalise on the strong foundations we have.

The Strategy is already helping to create the right investment environment, and create the right settings to encourage the private sector to grow and create jobs.

The Strategy outlines a responsible, innovative and collaborative approach to growing the economy.
It rejects the 1990s ‘cargo cult’ and ‘cowboy’ approach of business development and growth.

We have undertaken to promote business development by focussing on the following strategic imperatives:
  • Fostering the right business environment;
  • Supporting business investment; and
  • Accelerating business innovation

The Business Development Strategy Implementation Report, which I have tabled, reports against the 26 actions set out in the strategy

I would like to highlight some of the major achievements of the last 12 months against the strategic imperatives that we set ourselves.

Fostering the right business environment

We have implemented a Local Procurement policy. Under the policy ACT and region SMEs will receive a favourable weighting when bidding for ACT Government contracts;

We have raised the payroll tax threshold to $1.75m – as a result over 110 businesses are no longer required to pay payroll tax and we have put approximately $6.8m back into small business. And we will progressively raise the threshold to $2m, which will save another 80 businesses from paying payroll tax;

The Red Tape Reduction Panel, which I chair, has overseen the abolition of registration labels for light vehicles, has increased the majority of business licences to a three year maximum term and is reviewing police checking and business signage processes. In addition we have established the Fix My Red Tape web site to allow businesses to bring red tape issues to the Government’s attention;

We have also been working to reduce red tape through the Australian Business Number/Business Names Registration Project and other COAG reforms.

The ACT integrated its business naming functions with the national system last year and now delivers business licence information through the nationally coordinated Australian Business Licence and Information Service. The ACT was one of the first jurisdictions to complete the transition; and

Canberra BusinessPoint, our business advisory service, delivered 842 one-to-one client connections and a further 1,290 client connections via workshops, seminars and networking events last year. These outcomes exceeded the 2012-13 KPIs and the program continues to grow.

Supporting Business Investment

We have established InvestACT to promote the ACT as an investment destination and, following extensive consultation, the ACT Investment Strategy will be launched later this year. In the meantime, InvestACT has been actively working behind the scenes. The recent Solar Auctions were extensively promoted by InvestACT through the Austrade network resulting in over 150 expressions of interest.

We obtained $1.3m from the Commonwealth to prepare businesses and residents for the NBN. In the first five months of operation the Digital Hub and the Digital Enterprise Centre have provided training to more than 500 individuals and 200 businesses. Over 14,000 Gungahlin residents now have access to the NBN and the take up rate is the highest in Australia.

The ACT Government has listened to a number of industry sectors and recognised the need and benefit of an integrated city Brand for Canberra.

Through Brand Canberra the ACT Government, in cooperation with a number of Canberra based industry and community groups, will create a fully integrated city brand that provides a consistent, cohesive and creative approach to marketing the ACT both nationally and internationally as an inviting city, a connected community and a great place to visit.

The Brand project is simply not about developing a logo, it is about creating a platform for people to better understand and engage with Canberra as a place to live, work, invest or visit. It provides a new way for Canberra to talk about ourselves and showcase who we are, what we do and how we do it.

Brand Canberra will promote the role Canberra plays in finding solutions to major local, national and global challenges. It is the place where culture of innovation and creativity breeds extraordinary achievements across science, research, education and business. It is where people come to share big ideas that can be shared with the nation and the world.

The Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre, in addition to providing services for investment oriented young companies;
  • Provided management support to the Capital Angels high net worth investors network;
  • Delivered the Entrepreneur Development Fund;
  • Established the CBR Collective – a retail shopfront in the Canberra Centre for Canberra based designers;
  • Delivered the ‘Brilliant Idea Micro Credit Program’ to provide no-interest loans to women on low incomes with a business idea;

The redeveloped portal was launched in March this year. As well as providing a much better information service to our business community, it now features a blog with commenting functionality as well as linkages to the new Business Development Twitter and Facebook accounts.

We have also taken the lead in ensuring that we make it easy for skilled workers to migrate to the ACT. In July last year a new on-line skilled migration processing system went live and incorporates the skills branding site Canberra. Create Your Future. The website consists of three key portals – Migrating, Learning and Living – to promote the benefits of living, working and studying in Canberra.

Accelerating Business Innovation

The Innovation Connect program received over 80 applications in 2012/13 of which 26 received funding. Additional funding was provided for a Clean Tech stream to support early stage projects that improve environmental quality, reduce environmental impacts and lead to the development of new, innovative clean technologies and services. Excellent examples of funded programs include:
  • Clarus Technologies to develop phase one of its cyber kinetics artificial muscle;
  • Trade Up to develop a mobile management system for sub contractors managing workflows in construction projects;
  • StalkThis to allow online shoppers to stalk products and services on the web so they can be alerted to price changes; and
  • QHopper, a smart phone ordering platform for stadiums and arenas that allows consumers to skip queuing at service counters.
The Strategic Opportunities Fund provided grants of $347,000 to four Canberra research groups to develop leading edge collaborative research projects.

Of particular interest was the grant of $150,000 to the University of Canberra for the development of an Environmental Chamber at its Sports Hub. As a result of this funding the AIS contributed a further $100,000 to the facility;

Our commitment of $1.5m in last year’s budget for the Global Connect program has seen the first ever ACT trade mission to Indonesia, ScreenACT’s first trade mission in France and the establishment of the Centre for Exporting Government Solutions to build ACT exports to other public sector markets focussing on the USA and Asia.

The establishment of Study Canberra recognises the importance of education exports. Over the last 10 years exports from the ACT’s services sector has increased from $800m to $1.4b – an increase of 75%.

The education sector has played a major role in this growth and the government is committed to working with the sector to achieve further growth.

The Chief Minister recently accompanied the Vice-Chancellors of the Australian National University and the University of Canberra on an education mission to China.

The mission demonstrated our strong commitment to growing our international student market; to reiterating the importance of the higher education sector to the ACT; and to promoting the many benefits of studying and living in Canberra;

As a result of our work with the ANU and the business community, Entry 29, a shared working space ‘incubator’, was established in the ANU Exchange Precinct

In 2012 we doubled the CollabIT budget to $100,000. CollabIT does an excellent job in promoting SMEs as innovative companies and establishing partnerships between government agencies, SMEs and multinationals.

A recent member survey found that CollabIT members attributed $925,000 in revenue in 2012-13 to the program and 81% of respondents expected to derive business success in 2013-14 as a result of their engagement in the program;

And, of course, we continue to support the tourism industry. Tourism is another vital part of the ACT economy as both an economic driver and in creating jobs.

The tourism industry currently contributes $1.65 billion to the ACT economy and is one of the territory’s largest private sector employers – supporting 16,000 jobs. This represents 7.7 percent of total employment. Recent tourism initiatives have contributed to growing overnight visitation in the ACT.

There was a 9.0% increase in domestic overnight visitors to the ACT for the year ending June 2013 and a 10.2% increase in domestic overnight visitors during the first six months of Canberra’s Centenary Year. This increase was dominated by growth in the visiting friends and relatives market which saw an increase of 17.1% for overnight visitors and 31.1% for visitor nights.

Domestic visitor expenditure also increased by $159 million for the year ending June 2013.

When looking at international visitation to the ACT, there was a 10.4% increase in international visitors for the year ending June 2013 and a 22.9% increase during the first six months of Canberra’s Centenary Year.

These figures are influenced by visitation generated through investment in major event activity and investment in Centenary focused interstate marketing programs that provided compelling reasons to visit the nation’s capital in Canberra’s Centenary year.

This follows a period of significant investment in promoting Canberra to domestic audiences through the Human Brochure and Centenary tactical campaigns as well as investment in the Toulouse Lautrec and Turner from the Tate blockbuster exhibitions at the National Gallery of Australia.

These are some of the standalone highlights from our first year under the Strategy, but I would like to reflect on some of the deeper and long term positioning work we have been doing; policy directions that give this Strategy its foundation to develop a 21st Century digital city in which innovation and commercialisation thrive.

Prior to 2002 the economic strategy of the ACT Government was based on a ‘cargo cult’ mentality – throw money at multinational companies and the economy will grow.
$36m in payroll tax waivers for EDS, who relocated to Adelaide, $24m for IBM who never achieved the employment targets that the government hoped for, $10m for Fujitsu, $8m cash for Impulse Airlines (remember them) and, of course, the V8 Super Cars fiasco.

The Labor Government stopped the cargo cult mentality and decided to commit to developing an innovation ecosystem built on a research community that understands the need for business linkages, a business community that can work with new ideas, the capital to fund commercialisation and the skilled talent to bring the system together.

The Government’s first commitment was to the funding of National ICT Australia (NICTA). This was a major opportunity to establish a new building block for the innovation ecosystem in the ACT. It was the opportunity to link research and commercialisation in a new and fundamentally different way. The ANU, Australia’s premier research university, was a partner in this new approach.

The ACT Government has re-funded its Founding Member association with NICTA on two occasions. NICTA is now recognised internationally as a premier ICT research organisation and its Canberra Research Laboratory is undertaking world leading and world renowned ICT research activities.

NICTA Canberra has now graduated over 300 PhD students. Its Canberra researchers, including the current crop of around 55 PhD students, are engaged in challenging collaborative projects across the country that are transforming major industry sectors.

Indeed NICTA’s Canberra researchers are working with the ACT Government, ACT companies and other research groups at ANU and the University of Canberra in areas including smart grid developments, solar energy output prediction, transport optimisation and social media monitoring.

For example NICTA has headquartered its eHealth “living laboratory” at the University of Canberra’s Faculty of Health Clinical Teaching Building. The lab aims to develop technology and business processes that will enable health care providers to deliver better services, increased access and open new opportunities for businesses.

NICTA in Canberra also hosts the Australian eGovernment Cluster, a combined initiative of the ACT Government and NICTA, together with support from the Canberra Business Council and local industry. The Cluster promotes collaboration between government, industry and research in finding innovative ICT solutions to increasingly complex problems faced by government today.

An independent analysis by Deloitte estimates that two of NICTA’s projects based solely in the ACT, the ePASA and Automap projects, will have a combined annual impact of $354 million a year on the national economy either through cost savings or increased productivity. The same Deloitte study quantified NICTA’s current impact on the national economy at $2 billion per annum through productivity and efficiency savings.

It is a great shame that the incoming Federal Government does not value the work NICTA perform and has decided to slash its funding to NICTA - one of the most short-sighted decisions they have made to date.

The ACT’s innovation ecosystem also is blessed with the ANU, the University of Canberra and the CSIRO.

The ANU is Australia’s premier research university and, as smart cities throughout the world have demonstrated, the right research environment is the key to industry innovation. The ACT Government has worked closely with the ANU to strengthen the links between the ANU and the business community.

The regeneration of City West is an excellent example of collaboration to build the infrastructure necessary to foster innovation and develop knowledge based business opportunities. The location of NICTA in City West was the key to its redevelopment – indeed NICTA was one of the first buildings to emerge from the dirt car parks you might remember of City West just 10 years ago.

The new City West is a testament to how Government and research institutions can provide the infrastructure that drives innovation. The Government’s ‘City to the Lake’ vision builds on what has been achieved in City West.

City to the Lake reinforces Canberra as smart city – an exemplar of a progressive, inclusive and vibrant city with a distinctive urban culture.  It is fundamental to making Civic more than just a ‘drive through’ City centre, delivering over 1.2 million square metres of mixed use development for over 10,000 new residents located in the most accessible location in the City around West Basin, City Hill and along Constitution Avenue. 

This land is also the most strategically important land in the Capital.  It enables further growth for knowledge based businesses in the corridor between the ANU and CSIRO, the City, Russell and the Airport.

City to the Lake will be a world class project.  The project has been nationally recognised for design excellence, innovation and sustainability with receipt of the 2013 Australia Award for Urban Design.  Having similar ambition and scope to other major waterfront projects in other Australian cities such as Barangaroo, Docklands in Melbourne, Southbank in Brisbane and Perth waterfront, it enhances the ability for the City to attract and retain creative industries and people. 

Rather than turn its back on the Lake and Commonwealth Park, the City will embrace these assets of the national capital. Connectivity between the City, the ANU and existing and new lakeside national attractions will be dramatically enhanced with a grand new public waterfront at West Basin.  The daily life of the City will engage with the lake. 

Combined with a new multi-use stadium, Australia Forum and lakeside aquatic centre, Civic will become a place which is more attractive to residents and visitors, where people will happily stay longer.  It will be more active, safer and accessible with diverse activities during the day and at night

The ANU’s Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre at Mt Stromlo, built with part of the ANU’s insurance proceeds from the 2003 bushfires, is creating a new national centre for the Australian space community, connecting researchers and industry partners from around the country and across the globe.

ACT company Electro Optic Systems, a world leader in space debris laser tracking technology and co-located at Mt Stromlo, is partnering with the Centre to develop a space industry innovation precinct at Mt Stromlo.

Recently the Commonwealth Government announced that EOS and the ANU had successfully bid to develop a Space and Spatial Industry Partnership at Mt Stromlo under the Commonwealth Government’s Industry Partnership program. In addition to EOS and the ANU another key player in the partnership is ACT company Locata whose technology expands GPS capability and allows it to be used in areas where the GPS service can’t reach, for example, in open-cut mines and inside buildings.

This outcome is a wonderful opportunity for the ACT. The future importance of this industry cannot be overstated. Australia’s space industry is involved in earth observation, global positioning, communications and defence activities. The spatial sector consists of fields such as surveying, remote sensing, location based services, mapping, aerial imagery, land development, environmental management and geographic information systems.

This Partnership will bring the two together for the benefit of a whole range of industries – for example, mining, agriculture, utilities, defence, emergency management, communications, transport and infrastructure.

The Partnership aims to create more than 10,000 new high-technology jobs, expand exports and grow revenues of up to $12.5 billion per annum by 2023. Although the Partnership is to have a national focus, with its headquarters located at Mt Stromlo we can expect that large proportion of this growth will occur here.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr Ben Greene of EOS for taking the lead in this partnership. Dr Greene is keen to ensure that the Partnership quickly develops a commercial focus. If businesses in the Partnership can replicate EOS’ success of generating 90% of its $400m revenue through exports then the sky is the limit for this Partnership.

To support the Partnership, we have pledged in-kind support of $120,000 per annum by providing the services of a Business Development case manager to the Partnership to give businesses access to the Government’s business development services.

In addition, we have agreed to look at the business case for providing the Partnership with a capital injection for the development of an incubator facility at Mt Stromlo.

The CSIRO also plays a key role in our innovation ecosystem. The Government made a $1.1 million co-contribution to establish the High Resolution Plant Phenomics Centre. This has leveraged $19m of Australian Government funding for the Centre and the establishment of the Canberra node of this national facility at Black Mountain.

The Centre adds greatly to CSIRO’s plant industry capability in the ACT and indeed Black Mountain is the nominated location of CSIRO’s national Plant Industry precinct.

What has been created is unique knowledge capability here in Canberra that is now attracting interest nationally and across the globe. As one example the Centre is participating in a multinational consortium funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop the technology to double rice yields by 2050.

The University of Canberra is similarly delivering new approaches that drive innovation and job growth in Canberra’s economy. The Government’s commitment to the development of UC’s Allied Health facility has directly lead to the development of the University of Canberra Public Hospital, the headquartering of NICTA’s eHealth Living laboratory at UC and the establishment of the University’s Sports Commons.

The first stage of the Sports Common, the Sports Hub - partly funded by a grant of $5m from this Government - will see community sporting organisations and the Brumbies located on the University’s campus. In addition, through the Strategic Opportunities Funding Program, we provided $150,000 for the establishment of an environmental chamber in the Sports Hub building. The AIS has provided an additional $100,000 towards the facility.

The strength of the Sports Common has now been recognised by two recent Commonwealth announcements. The first one is the establishment of the Sports Technology Partnership under the Industry Innovation Partnership program. While not headquartered in Canberra the presence of the University of Canberra as a core partner, and its proximity to the AIS and ASC, will ensure many of the benefits will flow to the Canberra community.

The second announcement was that Regional Development Australia will provide $10m in funding for the University to build the next phase of its ‘Sporting Commons’ development. The new building, which will include large indoor sports facilities, will be used to help promote the ‘physical literacy’ of people in the region – teaching them to become active, enjoy being active and, importantly, keep being active throughout their life.

With the establishment of the Sports Technology Partnership, strong connections to the AIS, which is considering a joint professorial appointment, and the Australian Sports Commission, the Sports Commons will not only attract more students in the sports and sport medicine fields but will also attract companies wanting to commercialise the innovative ideas that come out of it.

It is important to see these approaches as more than investment in research. What they are about is investing in new knowledge capability; knowledge that attracts talent, investment and creation of intellectual property with commercial value that can attract and form new businesses.

A strong research community is only one part of an innovation ecosystem. The right business environment is also critical for success and the Government has played a major role in delivering this.

We have worked hard to position our innovation and entrepreneurship programs to ensure that there is a clear commercialisation path in the ACT for novel ideas with commercial potential.

The ACT Government’s popular Innovation Connect Grant Program, which provides early stage funding to progress novel solutions to a proof of technology stage, has supported over 110 projects with funding of over $2.8m.

The Government’s sponsorship of the Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre, which delivers peer support and expert advice to innovators and entrepreneurs, has also been significant in linking projects into Innovation Connect and then to complementary programs along the commercialisation path.

The ACT’s capital market has matured – local innovative businesses now have greater access to early stage capital. For example, firms at the proof of concept and early commercialisation stage can now access the Discovery Translation Fund, ANU Connect Ventures, the Canberra Business Development Fund and the Business Angels network. Ten years ago there was only the Canberra Business Development Fund with just $2m available for investment.

The ACT Government invested $10m in the ANU Connect Ventures equity fund to leverage a follow in investment of $20m from the Motor Traders Association of Australia. Nearly $8m of that investment is currently under active management with investments through both the Equity Fund and the Discovery Translation Fund.

The ACT Government has also increased the original investment in the CBDF administered by Australian Capital Ventures Limited. ACT Government funding now totals $4.5m, which has been matched by the Hindmarsh Group. To date, the fund has created some 80 new jobs and leveraged an extra $162m from private and Commonwealth sources.

The ACT Business Angels network, which received a small establishment grant from the ACT Government, is now a well organised and active angel investment community making regular investments into innovative ACT companies. Now operationally linked to the other major institutional players in the innovation system, the angels network continues to grow and broaden.

The Angels network also partners with the Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre to identify potential high-growth businesses requiring early stage investment.

Let me highlight a few examples of successful companies that have been supported along the ACT commercialisation path:

  • Sage Health, the developer of SmartWard, a practical health informatics solution to revolutionise patient care in hospitals, has been facilitated through programs including Lighthouse, Innovation Connect, the Discovery Translation Fund and recently by Commercialisation Australia.
  • Digitalcore, which is a leading provider of revolutionary 3D high-resolution image based core analysis and petrophysical services to the oil and gas industry, emerged from the ANU and received support from ANU Connect Ventures, Trade Connect and Lighthouse. Digitalcore recently joined forces with Numerical Rocks from Norway and, now known as Lithicon, is a fully integrated imaging and analysis service provider to the global market.
  • Quintessence Labs, another ANU spinout, a developer of ultra secure encryption technology to protect networks, has gained international attention as the runner up of the IBM Global Smart Camp and has established an office at NASA’s AMES research facility in Silicon Valley.

The ACT is a smart and clean city and we continue to promote the city’s competitive advantages in this area.

As members are aware, this Government is committed to making the ACT Australia’s solar capital and achieving a target of 90% renewable energy by 2020. The recent decision to build solar facilities at Mugga Lane and Coree, along with the previously approved Royalla Solar Farm, will generate enough renewable energy to power 10,000 Canberra homes.

This in turn provides opportunities for showcasing Canberra and developing innovation and commercialisation opportunities. As I mentioned earlier, InvestACT played a supporting role in promoting the solar auction process and facilitated the involvement of local, national and international companies’ participation in the auction. Already, partnerships are being developed between project developers and research institutions that will contribute to the further development of our growing clean energy sector.

In addition, NICTA’s Canberra Research Laboratory is teaming up with solar energy experts from the ANU, ActewAGL and local ACT companies Armada Solar and Laros Technology to develop ways of predicting the expected power output from rooftop solar energy systems. Forecasting solar energy production over a time span ranging from minutes to hours is important in order to stabilise the energy grid, decrease operational costs, and ultimately achieve a high penetration of distributed solar energy production.

The ACT business community now has a reputation for being export focussed. The ACT’s export statistics continue to be impressive:
  • The value of goods and services exports from the ACT increased by 9.4% to $1.3 billion in 2011-12 above the national rate of growth of 6.3%;
  • The ACT had the highest year on year growth rate among jurisdictions in 2011-12; and
  • The five year trend growth rate in ACT exports is 6.8%

We have played a major role in facilitating this growth. Through the Canberra Business Council, we established the ACT Exporters’ Network to bring successful exporters and emerging exporters together. The Network plays a pivotal role in promoting trade development, in connecting companies to services and the delivery of ACT Government trade missions.

We also supported the establishment of the Centre for Exporting Government Solutions to assist local innovative firms that sell to government to access other public sector markets around the world.
The focus in the establishment period has been the US market; however there is significant opportunity arising in the developing markets of Asia and the South Pacific.

And, as I mentioned earlier, in April this year I led the ACT Government’s first ever Trade Mission to Indonesia themed around the ACT’s competitive strengths in areas of international education, knowledge intensive business services, ICT services and expertise in public administration.

Over the last 12 months:
  • Aspen Medical continued its breathtaking rise as a multi disciplinary health services provider in the defence, humanitarian and resources sectors. Its revenue grew $32m to $95m over 2012 with its global footprint expanding in Asia, the Middle East, North America and Europe.
  • Seeing Machines, which emerged from ANU research and development,signed a significant strategic agreement with Caterpillar Global Mining, the world’s leading manufacturer of mining equipment, for the use of its in-cab Fatigue Monitoring Systems.
  • Bearcage Productions signed the first ever formal co-production agreement for a documentary television series between Australia and China Central Television’s CCTV9 Documentary Channel. The Story of Australia, a six-part series, will be broadcast on CCTV9 and internationally.
  • DataPod the complete solution modular data centre manufacturer deployed units to Papua New Guinea and Sweden over 2012/13 and, Madam Speaker, I can assure you that touring the facility at Fyshwick where these data centres are pieced together is quite an experience.

And as I also mentioned earlier we have taken a positive approach through Study Canberra to our biggest export earner - the export of education services.

The ‘reverse good’ to exporting is inwards investment. A growing innovative economy needs to be open to both capital investment and the recruitment of people with skills and knowledge.

It should not come as a surprise to members to learn that Canberra has become home to an emerging networking and cyber security industry, after all Canberra is home to ASIO, ASIS, the Department of Defence, the Australian Government Information Management Office and the National Cyber Security Centre. As a result there are strong linkages between international firms and Canberra SMEs that have niche expertise in this area.

In 2012 the Chief Minister opened global integrator company Lockheed Martin’s $10m NextGen Cyber Innovation and Technology Centre in Kingston and international defence and security giant Northrop Grumman purchased local Canberra company M5 Network Security to provide increased cyber security and communications to its Australian clients.

Similarly, Canberra has a strong competitive advantage in the more traditional defence related industries. The presence of the headquarters of the Department of Defence in Canberra means that both prime defence contractors and innovative defence SMEs need to be located here.

In May this year three Canberra companies – EOS, CEA Technologies and Insitec were selected by Northrop Grumman under the Australia Defence Materiel Organisation's Global Supply Chain Program. As a result, the companies will share in contracts valued at $7.4m.

More surprisingly there is a small but growing mining services cluster built around the activities of Geoscience Australia. Companies including Aspen Medical, DataPod, Corporate Air, Digital Core, Locata and Contractor Compliance are all active in the resources, oil and gas sectors.

These case studies form an important part of the profile of the ACT as an investment destination. To build on this profile, a key priority of the Business Development Strategy was the establishment of InvestACT. The InvestACT team is now taking shape and the Investment Strategy – an important piece of positioning work - will be launched later in the year.

The Strategy has been developed following the completion of a benchmarking study that compared investment approaches in six other ‘government town’ cities around the world.

The Strategy will be based on a proactive approach to investment promotion and strong collaboration between the Government and the private sector. In particular, InvestACT will target the re-investment pipeline; that is, growing the footprint of major Australian and international companies that that already have a presence in the ACT or companies that we feel should be here.

We are not only keen to attract capital and investment to Canberra but also skilled workers. The skilled migration program has directly attracted over 1,500 workers to Canberra over the last five years. Many have brought skills that have been in high demand in the ACT’s growing ICT sector. Significantly these workers have also brought in over $221m of personal investment into the Canberra economy.

In addition, over the last five years, the skilled migration program has assisted ACT employers to sponsor over 2,400 workers in a range of skilled occupations including the health, hospitality and academic sectors.

The Government’s business migration program has sponsored 52 business migrants who have invested over $62m into the ACT’s hospitality and property development sectors.
Importantly, skilled migration adds to our cultural diversity, it builds links and networks globally, it injects capital into our economy, and it is an important driver of population growth and the property market.

All of these activities come together to showcase a different Canberra to the one we constantly see portrayed in the media.

The support that we provide for NICTA, the ANU, CSIRO and the University of Canberra not only drives research, innovation and business growth but also raises the profile of Canberra as a study destination for a new generation of students from both within Australia and overseas.

Through Brand Canberra and in cooperation with industry and community groups, we are creating a fully integrated city brand that provides a consistent, cohesive and creative approach to marketing the ACT both nationally and internationally as a great place to visit, live, invest and study.

Through InvestACT we will focus on promoting Canberra as an investment destination for Australian and international companies that fit with our competitive advantages. We will profile the business success stories that we have seen emerge over the last few years.

Through the Exporters’ Network and the trade mission program we will continue to showcase ACT companies on the world stage.

Through the skilled migration program we will continue to deliver the skills the business community requires to innovate, grow and expand as well as bring in investment to the community and drive population growth.

And we will continue through our taxation policies and commitment to reducing red tape to support the innovation ecosystem in the ACT.

When I launched the strategy just over 12 months ago I undertook to report to the Assembly annually. The following figures indicate how successful these policies have been:
  • In 2011-12 the total number of actively trading ACT businesses grew by 1.6%.  This was the highest of all States/Territories and four times the national growth of 0.4%.
  • Retail turnover grew by 3.3% in the ACT in the year to July 2013, compared to 2.3% nationally over the same period.
  • In the year to August 2013, the ACT labour force grew by 1,600 while unemployment fell to 3.7%, compared to a national unemployment rate of 5.8%.
  • Over the last five years we have seen 13,200 new jobs and over the last ten years 35,900 new jobs.
  • Population growth, at 2.3 % per annum, remains above average for the ACT and above the national rate of 1.8%.
  • Over the last five years, service exports in the ACT have grown by an average of 6.9% per annum, compared to national growth in service exports of 0.8% per annum over the same period.  In 2011-12, the ACT’s exports were worth $1.27 billion (of which $1.26 billion was in service exports).

State Final Demand, Consumer Price Inflation and Wage Price Inflation are all on par with national averages.

There is one business statistic that I often see quoted that I would like to address – the survival rate for small businesses in the ACT.

The survival rate is marginally lower than the national average but the business start up rate, at an average of 3.9% per annum over the last ten years, is higher than the national rate.

In a services economy such as the ACT’s, where there are not a lot of barriers to transitioning from running a small business to moving into paid employment and vice versa, it is not surprising that both the business formation rates and the non-survival rates are marginally higher than the national average.

Importantly, ASIC data indicate that the business failure rate in the ACT due to bankruptcy is comparable with national data and that poor economic conditions were only nominated in 14% of bankruptcies as a cause of failure – half the national rate.

Most importantly the number of businesses has continued to grow – there are now over 2,000 more businesses in the ACT then there were in 2003.

The Business Development Strategy is the right strategy for the future.

It builds on the policies that we have put in place. Our vision is to continue to build on those policies – we will continue to support research and innovation through the ANU, NICTA, the University of Canberra and the CSIRO; we will continue to support linkages between business and research institutions such as the Space and Spatial Industry Partnership; we will continue to promote the benefits of the ACT as a business and tourism destination; we will continue to deliver programs that target the needs of innovative and growing businesses; we will continue to showcase innovative businesses to potential export markets; and we will continue to create the right environment for businesses to grow and expand.

The ACT is already one of Australia’s best performing economies. Our strategy will continue to grow the economy, diversify our industry profile and create jobs for residents of the ACT both now and into the future.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Making Canberra even smarter!

Digital Canberra Challenge

Engaging Canberra’s brightest minds to help build and support a dynamic, healthy and prosperous Digital City for the 21st century. That’s the aim of the new ACT Government initiative, the Digital Canberra Challenge.

The Digital Canberra Challenge was launched on 19 August 2013 by Minister Barr MLA, ACT Minister for Economic Development. The Challenge is an initiative of Growth, Diversification and Jobs: A Business Development Strategy for the ACT, and aims to engage ACT innovators and SMEs in the development of new or improved digital government services.

Supported by NICTA External Link - opens in new window, CollabIT External Link - opens in new window and the Canberra Business Council External Link - opens in new window, the Digital Canberra Challenge will be delivered by eGovernment Cluster External Link - opens in new window under the direction of a Program Board chaired by Tony Henshaw, a local industry leader in the ICT sector.

Leading up to each round of the Challenge, people will have the opportunity to put forward unresolved business challenges relating to the delivery of government services – things that they think could be done faster, better, smarter or more efficiently.

From the pool of potential challenges that are submitted, the ones that have the most potential for innovative solutions that can benefit a real area of need for Canberra will be chosen.

From then, the challenge is on! The call will go out to Canberra’s brightest minds from our ICT innovation community, asking them to put together submissions answering the challenge brief.

The best two ideas are chosen from the submissions received. The shortlisted teams are then set into head to head competition, partnering with the ACT Government to develop their ideas into 'proof-of-concept' prototypes. Coaching, mentoring and research assistance will be provided to the successful innovators or SMEs. Contestants in the Challenge will also be able to apply for separate Innovation Connect grant funding to help with the commercialisation of their products and ideas.

After six months of development the two solutions are judged, and the team that produces the best outcome for Canberra will be named the winner of the Digital Canberra Challenge, receiving $12,500 in prize money. The runner up will receive $7,500 in prize money.

The winning idea will then be put to work to help improve our city!

The first round is scheduled to begin in September 2013.

Do you know of something that has the opportunity for improvement? Do you think you can out innovate the competition?

Visit the Digital Canberra Challenge website External Link - opens in new window to help set the challenge, become a competitor or to find out more information.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Student Ambassador gets ready for TEDxCanberra!

Our ACT International Student Ambassador, Amy Zhang will be heading along to TEDxCanberra External Link - opens in new window on 7 September 2013!

Here she shares with us the top three things she is looking forward to when attending the event.

The ACT International Student Ambassadors program is an initiative of the ACT Government's Global Connect program, as identified in Growth, Diversification and Jobs: A Business Development Strategy for the ACT.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

ACT Government wants to hear from your small business!

Man in suit at laptop

The ACT Government, in partnership with Canberra Business Council, will soon begin running a series of Listening to Small Business Forums.

Commencing in August and running through to October, the Listening to Small Business Forums aim to create a conversation between the ACT Government and Canberra small and micro businesses. There will be 10 forums in total, each one focusing on a different industry area.

These forums, which are an initiative of Growth, Diversification and Jobs: A Business Development Strategy for the ACT, will help us to better understand the issues and opportunities each industry sector is dealing with in 2013. Where there is a role for the ACT Government to address these matters, we will strive to do that directly and quickly.

PDF View the Listening to Small Business Forums schedule: PDF 175kB
MS Word View the Listening to Small Business Forums schedule: Word 932kB

Registering for the Listening to Small Business Forum is essential as palces will be limited to approximately 15 participants at each session.

If you are a small business owner or operator and you would like to participate in your industry discussion please register with Dean Seeley, Manager - Canberra BusinessPoint by emailing or phoning (02) 6247 4199.