Business Connect Newsletter

September 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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Canberra to benefit from new Innovation Partnerships

Canberra’s space and spatial technology fields are set to grow with the announcement of a multimillion dollar innovation partnership to be headquartered at Mount Stromlo.

The Space and Spatial Innovation Partnership is a collaboration between industry, government, defence, research and education organisations, with ANU as a core partner. Supporting them will be local company, EOS, who have been working from Mt Stromlo for a number of years deploying their technology to monitor space junk in danger of destroying satellite communications.

Professor Matthew Colless, Director of ANU’s Research School of Astronomy & Astrophysics, said that this type of collaboration was vital for the future of science in Australia.

In speaking with the Canberra Times, Professor Colless said “It’s a big network, and one that we think will really allow us to bring together what are essentially a whole bunch of relatively small and medium industries, and it will give them enough grunt and force to actually leverage growth of the industry in Australia”.

“We’re taking advantage of the fact that the ACT has got the ANU here, and a very highly educated base here to become more of a high tech city than it is now… We’d like to make Mount Stromlo a technology park as well as a centre of academic excellence”. Read the full article External Link - opens in new window.

The Space and Spatial Innovation Partnership will use the ANU’s world-class Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre (AITC) External Link - opens in new window as a key facility.

“The Industry Innovation Partnership will help the interchange of ideas and, hopefully, spur the development of the space and spatial industries in Australia. In fact, the use of the AITC will enable Australian industry and research organisations to be more competitive in the international market” said Professor Colless. Find out more about the Space and Innovation Partnership in ANU hosts space innovation partnership External Link - opens in new window.

The announcement of the Space and Spatial Innovation Partnership comes in the same week as the Sports Technology, Creative Digital, and Smart Transport and Logistics Innovation Partnerships were announced. The ACT's involvement in all four of the partnerships will raise Canberra’s profile as both a centre of research excellence and it's reputation as a driver of small industry development.

The industry-led Sports Technology Innovation Partnership aims to create new high value jobs, boost exports and improve Australia’s performance in commercialising sports technologies. Headquartered in Geelong, the partnership will have strong connections with Canberra, with both the Australian Institute of Sport and the University of Canberra named as partners.

The Creative Digital Innovation Partnership will represent the creative digital industries, spanning the creative and information and communications technology industries, and their innovations. It will be headquartered in Sydney with nodes in three other locations, including Canberra.

The final partnership, the Smart Transport and Logistics Partnership brings together a range of industry and research partners with the aim of driving productivity and efficiency in the transport and logistics sector through technology innovation. The partnership addresses a major Australian industry which is anticipated to undergo massive growth in the next decade and which impacts the productivity of every industry in Australia.

All four of the partnerships were supported by the ACT Government and have strong collaboration connections to Canberra and our universities and business sectors. They are a part of the Australian Government’s Industry Innovation Partnership program, a part of its commitment to supporting the growth and competitiveness of Australia businesses.

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Making Canberra even smarter!

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 NICTA’s 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 in the community and inside government 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 competition 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.

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ACT Government wants to hear from your small business!

The ACT Government, in partnership with Canberra Business Council, is currently 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 bringing together small and micro business from particular sectors.

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

Registering for the Listening to Small Business Forum is essential as places 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.

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What does Digital Canberra mean to your business?

The ACT Government is currently seeking your views on how to make Canberra a world leading digital city.

The aim of this consultation is to hear from all Canberrans on how digital technology can help make Canberra a more liveable city, with better services, a stronger economy and improved digital access, engagement and literacy in the community.

The ideas generated will inform the Digital Canberra Action Plan that will be released by the ACT Government later in 2013.

Speaking about the consultation, ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said "Canberra is ideally placed to be a leading city for the development and application of digital technologies. We have a thriving ICT sector and we are the home of world-class centres of research and innovation".

"As a government we have sought to use digital technology to improve consultation and service delivery to the Canberra community. We were the first government to hold a twitter cabinet and we are trialing WiFi at the Canberra Hospital whilst we look to deploy free public WiFi across the city.  We are working to increase digital transactions and processes and we are promoting open government systems by ensuring information and data is available online for use by community members, business and innovators.”

"This next step has been established to engage directly on how government, business and the broader Canberra community can work together to drive improvements in productivity, connectivity, innovation and services locally by using the latest thinking around digital technology” the Chief Minister continued.

There are two ways you can submit your thoughts on creating a digital Canberra:

Small Business & Nonprofit Digital Benchmarking Survey

The ACT Government, in partnership with the Canberra Business Council and CollabIT, would like to understand business’ digital and ICT use, and to see how we can better help you in 2013-2014.

The Small Business & Nonprofit Digital Benchmarking Survey is a simple tick box survey and should only take 5-10 minutes to complete.

Digital Canberra Citizen Forum

The Digital Canberra Citizen Forum gives you the opportunity to post your ideas as part of a crowd sourced forum. You can also vote and provide comments on other people’s ideas for Digital Canberra.

Participation in either of these two methods gives you the chance to win a free 32GB iPad with Retina display.

Comments close Monday 30 September 2013.

To find out more or to participate in either the Small Business & Nonprofit Digital Benchmarking Survey or the Digital Canberra Citizen Forum visit the ACT Government’s Time to talk website External Link - opens in new window.

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Employing non-citizen workers

It is the responsibility of all businesses to employ only workers that are officially permitted to work in Australia.

Not everyone in Australia is allowed to work. Some Australian visas, for example some visitor visas, do not allow non-citizens to work while in Australia. Non-citizens who no longer hold a valid visa are also not allowed to work in Australia.

In 2007 it became a criminal offence to employ or refer for employment someone who is not allowed to work. This includes both paid and unpaid work. On 1 June 2013, new laws introduced civil penalties and infringement notices for businesses that allow illegal work. The law also broadens who can be held liable and provides new evidence gathering powers. The existing criminal penalties remain.

Businesses, however, will be able to avoid penalties by taking reasonable steps, at reasonable times, to confirm that a non-citizen is allowed to work. A guide for businesses is available on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship website External Link - opens in new window.

How can you check if someone is allowed to work?

By using the Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) External Link - opens in new window you can check if someone is allowed to work in Australia. It will also tell you if there are any work limitations associated with a visa, such as a person who holds a working holiday visa can only work for six months.

VEVO is a secure and free government web-based service. It is the preferred method of checking if non-citizens are allowed to work.
VEVO checks can be used as evidence that you have taken reasonable steps to check that someone is allowed to work.

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South Canberra named ACT's most web-savvy area in Google eTown Awards

South Canberra* businesses are leading the ACT in their use of the web, helping the area to be named as the top eTown in the ACT. This is according to Google’s eTown Awards, which celebrate towns and cities whose small businesses make best use of the web to connect with customers and grow.

Claire Hatton, Head of Local Business, Google Australia said “South Canberra businesses should be proud of leading the digital charge, and local industry and leaders have been forward-thinking with their initiatives to help business owners take advantage of online tools.”

“The location of your shop front or size of your workforce doesn’t matter online. Every business has the opportunity to engage customers and grow.”

“Whether you’re a restaurant, retailer or hotel, if you’re not online you’re missing out on a direct line to thousands of potential customers.” Ms Hatton continued.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said “the ACT Government is an active participant and sponsor of digital enterprise to drive collaboration between all sectors of our community. It’s great that Canberra, and South Canberra specifically, is being recognised.”

Entry 29 External Link - opens in new window, located at the Australian National University, is a practical example of government encouraging technology development. It allows start-up operators to collaborate and offers meeting facilities, access to mentors and other service providers, including business advisors and financiers.”

* The Google’s eTown Awards used the postcodes of 2600, 2603 and 2604 to comprise South Canberra.

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Energy and water program helps 130 small businesses

More than 130 local small businesses have taken advantage of advice and rebates offered by the ACT Government to improve their energy and water efficiency, Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Simon Corbell announced in August.

"After only a year of operation, the ACTSmart Business Energy and Water program has recently signed up its 138th business, which is a remarkable achievement," Mr Corbell said.

"A wide range of businesses have received assessments and access to rebates of up to $5,000 to help them replace fittings and fixtures with more efficient options."

An experienced assessor visits the business to gain an understanding of its operations and challenges, and provides a report outlining energy use within the business and a range of recommendations that the business owner may consider.

The owner of the Cook Friendly Grocer has halved the amount of power required to light the building through accessing the ACTSmart Business Energy and Water program.

In April 2013, the owner took up a $5,000 rebate to help cover the cost of replacing 160 lights with energy efficient LED lighting.

The owner also received advice on other ways to reduce power use in the building, and has achieved further savings through simple actions such as changing the thermostat settings on fridges and educating his staff.

"The owner says since accessing the ACTSmart program, he's been able to save $1,000 per month on power bills," Mr Corbell said.

"I encourage all small businesses around Canberra to contact the ACTSmart team to see if the program can help them reduce their carbon footprint and their power and water bills".

"Helping small businesses cut their green house gas emissions, and their operating costs, is one way the ACT Government is working to make Canberra a carbon neutral city by 2060."

To find out more visit the ACT Government's ACTSmart website External Link - opens in new window.

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