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:
- Creating the right business environment
- Accelerating innovation to create wealth and jobs
- 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.
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.