Business Connect Newsletter

May 2013

This newsletter provides business news and events on the programs and activities of Business Development, part of the Economic Development Directorate.

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Recognising the ACT Exporting Community

On 1 May 2013, Minister Barr MLA, ACT Minister for Economic Development launched the 2013 ACT Chief Minister’s Export Awards.

The Awards are identified in Growth, Diversification and Jobs: A Business Development Strategy for the ACT and are an initiative of the ACT Government’s Global Connect program, which recently received $1.5m in funding in the 2013-14 ACT Budget. Read more about the funding announcement.

They acknowledge the innovation, hard work and success of our local businesses, large and small, in reaching new markets. They highlight those companies who are contributing to the more than $1.2 billion worth of products and services being exported annually from the ACT.

This year’s theme incorporates our Centenary Celebrations -100 years; 100 Countries; 100 exporters.

To further recognise the ACT exporting community, two new award categories have been added to this year’s awards. The first of these, the Exporting to Asia Award, provides an opportunity for ACT businesses to be recognised for their outstanding international success in exporting to Asia.

The Exporting Government Solutions Award, the second category to be added, provides the opportunity for ACT based government agencies and businesses that are exporting government solutions to be acknowledged. Growth in this sector has been a focus for the ACT Government with this new award category following on from the launch of the Centre for Exporting Government Solutions External Link - opens in new window earlier this year.

At the launch of the 2013 ACT Chief Minister’s Export Awards, Minister Barr was joined by Glenn Keys, managing director of the 2012 ACT Exporter of the Year, Aspen Medical. In speaking with the Canberra Times, Mr Keys said Aspen Medical's expanding export business had helped the company grow during difficult financial times.

"It is always important to have more than one source of business development and employment opportunities and, with budgets tight in Canberra, exports have helped us broaden our base for sustainable employment locally," he said. Read the full article, ACT business looks to export External Link - opens in new window.

Other local companies have also been successful in exporting their goods and services and have appreciated the opportunity the ACT Chief Minister’s Export Awards have provided them in recognising this.

“Involvement in the Chief Minister’s Export Awards has been most useful for sharing lessons in the export business, networking and gaining publicity for potential overseas customers” said Ed Roberts, Chief Executive Officer of Australian Scientific Instruments.

“This tick of approval by a recognised government authority is well received by overseas customers, many of whom are government bodies themselves”. Read more about Australian Science Instruments and their involvement with the ACT Chief Minister’s Export Awards.

Applications for the 2013 ACT Chief Minister’s Export Awards close 15 August 2013. Winners from the ACT awards (except for the Exporting Government Solutions and Exporting to Asia Award categories) will go on to be a national finalist at the 51st Australian Export Awards held in November.

For more information visit the 2013 ACT Chief Minister’s Export Awards website External Link - opens in new window.

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A new way of supporting start-up companies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Canberra innovation on show at CeBIT

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

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

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

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

The eWAY team demonstrates their online payment systems at CeBIT.
The eWAY team demonstrates their online payment systems.

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

Founder David Keightley at the EcoSpectral stand
Founder David Keightley at the EcoSpectral stand.

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

Dr Jon Gray of NICTA with the Event Watch demo
Dr Jon Gray of NICTA with the Event Watch demo.

Did your Canberra business exhibit at CeBIT Australia? Share your photos on our Facebook page External Link - opens in new window or tweet to @ACTGov_Business

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Lighthouse creates a first for fashion in Canberra

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

The idea for the boutique came about via Lighthouse and Canberra Centre who wanted to create a six month fashion pop-up shop aimed at highlighting Canberra’s creative economy during the Centenary year.

“The boutique was conceived to create an environment where emerging designers can maximise their growth through mentoring, collaboration and exposure to the large number of shoppers visiting Canberra Centre each day,” said Anna Pino, CEO Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre.

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

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

Lighthouse is also giving the opportunity for other local designers to get involved through permanent or casual spaces and consignment opportunities in the store. Alongside the collections of the founding designers, there are also home wares from Tango & James, jewellery from PNC Metalsmith and clothing from Hutch.

CBR Collective is located at Shop DF 16, Canberra Centre (near Trenery). To find out more email or visit the CBR Collective Facebook page External Link - opens in new window.

CBR Collective Boutique
CBR Collective Boutique

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

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Canberra – A City of Innovators

A number of Canberra based businesses have recently been awarded more than $228,000 funding in the latest round of Innovation Connect (ICon) grants.

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

The program was established to encourage innovation and to assist in developing new companies and technologies in Canberra.

Recipients of this round of funding include Beta Therapeutics Pty Ltd. Founded out of the Australian National University, Beta Theraputics Pty Ltd received funding to further develop a discovery made by researchers at the John Curtin School of Medical Research. It’s hoped that further development of drugs relating to this breakthrough may lead to a significant advance in the treatment of type 1 diabetes.

Start-up venture, Qhopper™ Pty Ltd, also received funding this round. With the funding, they hope to make their idea of a world without queues a reality by developing an integrated process between consumer smartphones and physical points of service. This will include intelligent real-time virtual queuing, to facilitate the ideal customer flow ensuring that physical queues don’t form.

Beta Theraputics Pty Ltd and Qhopper™ Pty Ltd received funding alongside 3 other local businesses, ScienceAlert Pty Ltd, EasySWMS Pty Ltd and Aerovort. View the full list of ICon funding recipients

Since the program was established in 2008, more than 100 ACT based businesses have been provided with funding support of over $2.4 million which has been matched by the grant recipients.

To find out more about the ICon grant program visit the Innovation Connect page.

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Investing in our future

Invest in Canberra. That was the message Minister Barr MLA, ACT Minister for Economic Development, sent during his recent trip to Singapore when he officially launched InvestACT, the newly formed ACT Government investment promotion agency.

The InvestACT team, under the Invest in Canberra brand, will be providing business intelligence on the Canberra market and supporting potential investors to develop opportunities in the Capital region.

Canberra is at the centre of a dynamic and growing region, and the work of InvestACT will play a critical role in facilitating the new investment that will help to sustain strong economic growth in the ACT.

The InvestACT launch, attended by potential investment partners, focused on Canberra’s value proposition as a stable and strong investment destination.

The launch was followed the next day by a high level discussion between Minister Barr and a small group of qualified investors.
InvestACT also recently co-hosted the Winning Investment for Australia (WIA) training program, conducted through Austrade’s National Investment Advisory Board.

This is the first time that the program has been hosted by the ACT Government and with a record number of attendees from Australian Investment Promotions Agencies (IPA) representing Australian based and offshore staff, the training program has certainly highlighted Canberra’s investment opportunities.

For more information, visit the InvestACT page.

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Are skills shortages affecting your business?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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