Business Connect Newsletter

August 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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Local Business see's the benefits of Export Awards

The annual ACT Chief Minister's Export Awards are a prestigious event in the ACT’s annual business calendar. They acknowledge the innovation, hard work and success of businesses, large and small, in reaching new markets through exporting their products or services.

One Canberra business recognised for their exporting achievements is software company XP Solutions, winner of the Information and Communication Technology Award in the 2012 ACT Chief Minister’s Export Awards.

Launching in Canberra almost four decades ago, XP Solutions now has its sights set on a major expansion in Asia and North America following the win.

Using Canberra as a base, XP Solutions is leading the way in exporting environmental software to organisations across the world – with clients in countries including Korea, Japan, China and the UK.

With aims to expand business in Asia by 25 per cent in the next financial year, and North America by up to 15 per cent, there is clearly no stopping this Canberra company!

Sudesh Mudaliar, Vice President of Asia Pacific at XP Solutions, said winning the award was a fantastic way for the company to gain recognition and ensure it stood out from the crowd in the global marketplace.

“The awards give companies credibility and recognition so that when you go in and say ‘I am winner of a Chief Minister’s Award’ it gives you a bit of standing,” Mr Mudaliar said.

“One of the other good things about the awards is making the application because it makes you think about what you are doing. The whole process of reviewing your plans and goals makes you question aspects of your business.”

XP Solutions, which also has offices in the UK and North America, creates software tools for analysing flood risk, drainage design, water quality and road design. The software is targeted to engineering consultants, government agencies and environmental management organisations.

Next on the Belconnen-based company’s agenda is establishing a base in South East Asia, which it hopes will further boost sales in Asia.

“No one goes into an award to come second, it was a great experience and it makes you focus on the business,” Mr Mudaliar continued.

XP Solutions have also participated in other ACT Government trade and export development activities, including the 2013 Indonesian Trade Mission. This provided them with good meeting and networking opportunities and the chance to evaluate a possible base for their expansion plans. They have also been involved with the ACT Exporters’ Network.

“The ACT Exporters Network External Link - opens in new window is another important way to meet other businesses in Canberra. It gives you good leverage and we have the edge of hunting in a pack.”

Both the Trade Mission and ACT Exporters’ Network are part of the ACT Government’s Global Connect program, an initiative of Growth, Diversification and Jobs: A Business Development Strategy for the ACT.

ACT exporters have the opportunity to enter the awards in 15 categories including Exporting to Asia, Environmental Solutions and Creative Industries.

Nominations for the 2013 ACT Chief Minister’s Export Awards are currently open and close on 15 August 2013.

For more information or to apply for the awards visit the ACT Chief Minister’s Awards website External Link - opens in new window.

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Canberra BusinessPoint recognising local businesses

Canberra BusinessPoint External Link - opens in new window, the ACT Government's business mentoring and advisory service, launched their annual awards on Wednesday 26 June 2013.

The Canberra BusinessPoint Awards, launched this year by Minister Barr MLA, ACT Minister for Economic Development and Chris Faulks, CEO Canberra Business Council, showcase the range and depth of successful businesses operating in the Canberra region. They include six award categories: Web and Mobile; Clean and Green; Bricks and Mortar; Creative and Design; Micro-enterprise; and High Growth. One winner from these categories will also be named the Canberra BusinessPoint Business of the Year.

“The Awards recognise small businesses that have interacted with the Canberra BusinessPoint Program and gone on to achieve success over the past 12 months” said Ms Faulks.

“They typify those businesses that have worked hard and been innovative in order to succeed and grow.”

Anna Pino, CEO Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre commented “Winning a Canberra BusinessPoint Award is a great way for a business to showcase their achievements and raise their profile.”

At the launch, a number of the 2012 award winners spoke about their experience including Tom Henderson, owner of the 2012 Canberra BusinessPoint Business of the Year, Jigsaw Housing.

Mr Henderson set up Jigsaw Housing in 2010 alongside business partner and award winning Canberra architect, Andrew Verri. The pair shared a vision to apply intelligent design principles to create homes that were energy efficient, comfortable and affordable. To help start and grow their business, Jigsaw Housing worked with Canberra BusinessPoint and Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre External Link - opens in new window, which also allowed them to access the Entrepreneur Development Fund External Link - opens in new window. Find out more about Jigsaw Housing involvement with Lighthouse External Link - opens in new window.

“Last year’s winner of the Canberra BusinessPoint Business of the Year Award is an example of the calibre of ACT businesses and their success in identifying and servicing new, niche or expanding markets,” said Ms Faulks.

Jigsaw Housing has now become a leader in the innovative, emerging field of integrative design offering a comprehensive energy efficient-focused, residential building services including design, construction and thermal performance assessment. It was named business of the year after winning the Clean and Green Category at the 2012 awards. Find out more about Jigsaw Housing External Link - opens in new window.

Other winners in the 2012 Canberra BusinessPoint Awards include CloudCentral, who took out the Web and Mobile category. CloudCentral offers highly scalable, secure, dynamic cloud infrastructure services, with a focus on providing services to Australian software developers, IT service providers, enterprise and government customers. It too has been involved with Canberra BusinessPoint and Lighthouse, and has also received financial support through the ACT Government’s Innovation Connect grant program.

“CloudCentral is currently facing the challenges of any rapidly growing startup company which include sourcing the right people, establishing a quality management team, and raising capital. We are actively engaging with the ACT Government, Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre and Canberra BusinessPoint to help us overcome these challenges presented" said Kris Sheather, founder of CloudCentral after the win. Find out more about Cloud Central External Link - opens in new window.

Applications are now open for the 2013 Canberra BusinessPoint Awards. Entries close 5pm 23 August 2013.

Winners of the awards will be announced at the Award Ceremony on 21 November 2013.

Find out more about the 2013 Canberra BusinessPoint Awards External Link - opens in new window.

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Moon Antenna supports future STARS of Science

On 21 July, 44 years ago, the 26 metre dish antenna at the Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station on the outskirts of Canberra received the first signals from the Moon and made it possible for the world to watch Neil Armstrong take his first steps on the lunar surface via television. This antenna was later relocated to the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex and after a productive service was retired in November 2009.

Thanks to a grant from the ACT Government’s Strategic Opportunities Fund, and a partnership between the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) External Link - opens in new window, the ANU Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre (AITC) External Link - opens in new window and the ACT Education and Training Directorate External Link - opens in new window, the antenna will once again be playing an important role by supporting Australian science, engineering and education.

The STAR Student Program will help engage students in science and engineering at secondary school and provide industry-focused training for undergraduate engineering and science students.

“It is important that students see the relevance of what they are studying and connect with a future study and career path” said Dr Naomi Mathers, Industry Liaison Engineer, ANU AITC.

“We hope this program will help address the future skills shortage identified by our Chief Scientist and groups like Engineers Australia, and boost Australia’s competitiveness in the innovation sector. We need to inspire students to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) at secondary school for them to aspire to Science and Engineering courses at university.”

The existing control room building next to the antenna will be refurbished to create a mission control-style environment where students can access a pilot-program through NASA Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope (GAVRT), and will later support hands-on programs for students and the public.
Speaking on the STARS Program, CDSCC Director, Dr Ed Kruzins said, “This program will celebrate Australia’s contribution to space science and engineering and help develop the skilled workforce we need to realise future opportunities”.

“In the future we hope to see this iconic Australian antenna dish active once again and contributing to new discoveries made by the next generation of space explorers.”

To find out more information on the STARS program contact Glen Nagle, CDSCC Education & Outreach Manager by email gnagle@cdscc.nasa.gov or phone (02) 6201 7838.

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National Science Week: Canberra celebrates a century of science

National Science Week is Australia’s annual celebration of science and technology.

Held annually in August, it features approximately 1,000 events around Australia, including those delivered by universities, schools, museums and science centres.

This year National Science Week will be held between 10-18 August 2013. In the ACT, the week will celebrate a century of science in Canberra.

“This year is a big year for science in the ACT as we celebrate our centenary and the significant past and present role science and innovation plays in our community” ACT Deputy Chief Minister, Andrew Barr MLA said.

Canberra is home to a number of the nation's significant National Collections and a wealth of science and education facilities. These include the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), established in 1926, the John Curtin School of Medical Research, established in 1948, and Canberra’s world class space complex, the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, in 1960.

A number of ideas and innovations have come out of these and other Canberra institutions, from man's first steps on the Moon, to the development of Aerogard fly spray, to no fewer than eight Nobel Prizes. Find out more about Canberra’s Science highlights External Link - opens in new window.

A wide range of events are being held in Canberra as part National Science Week, including a NICTA Big Picture Seminar.

The Big Picture Seminar is an initiative of NICTA External Link - opens in new window, Australia’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Research Centre of Excellence, and is designed to communicate the exciting and rapidly evolving vision of science, in general and ICT, in particular, around the globe. The Big Picture Seminar is being held on Thursday 15 August 2013 and features Dr Kim Ritman, Chief Scientist of the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) External Link - opens in new window. View the full list of National Science Week events External Link - opens in new window.

National Science Week is an initiative of the Australian Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education and is supported by the ACT Government.

“The ACT Government is delighted to once again be the major supporter of National Science Week in the ACT” said Mr Barr.

“The ACT Government recognises the importance of a scientifically engaged community – one that is informed and excited about science and values its significance to our economic and social well-being. We want to see our young people inspired by science and see them pursue scientific studies and careers, to gain and build scientific knowledge and apply this to the challenges and opportunities that we all face now and in the future”

As well as National Science Week, the ACT Government has supported a number of programs aimed at fostering research and innovation in the ACT including NICTA, the Innovation Connect grant program and the Strategic Opportunities Fund.

To find out more about National Science Week visit www.scienceweek.net.au External Link - opens in new window.

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Bandu Catering tastes success at ACT NAIDOC Awards

Bandu Catering has won the ACT NAIDOC Business of the Year Award which was presented at the NAIDOC Ball on Saturday 6 July 2013.

Jo Donovan is the brains behind this fresh and original approach to Australian catering, which, along with her son and daughter team, aims to promote the use of native foods and flavours in contemporary Australian cuisine.

“Our aim is to create innovative menus using the native foods that have been the staple diet of Indigenous Australians for generations” explains Jo. “We provide our clients with the freshest ingredients - sourced from local markets in and around the Canberra region.”

Bandu, which means food in the Dhanggati language, uses a diverse range of ingredients to make their speciality dishes and it is proving to be extremely popular - with kangaroo, lemon myrtle, warrigal greens and mountain pepper berry having already struck a strong chord with their ever-growing clientele.

“In the last year, the business has gone from strength to strength. We have secured more than 200 clients, delivered a range of training courses to stay-at-home parents wanting to give their children a healthier diet, and we were announced as the cuisine provider for VIP guests at Canberra’s 100th birthday. This award has really topped off the year beautifully.”

The ACT NAIDOC Business of the Year Award seeks to celebrate the success of Indigenous businesses with the ACT Government providing a range of business support programs which help businesses overcome obstacles to growth. A number of the nominated businesses have used these programs and are thriving.

David Dawes, Director General at the Economic Development Directorate said “the strong field of nominations for the Business of the Year Award is proof that Canberra’s Indigenous business community is thriving.

“I congratulate Bandu Catering for their success in integrating community values and Indigenous culture into their very successful business.”

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ACT Government tender process gets easier for local small business

To make it easier to do business in Canberra, the ACT Government is now giving local firms a leg up when tendering for government contracts. A new criterion has been introduced for the evaluation of all goods and services tenders for ACT Government work, which supports small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from the capital region.

The criterion puts a positive weighting on whether the tenderer is a local SME and/or their involvement with local businesses. In short, the weighting will give local SMEs a small but important boost to their chances of winning ACT Government tenders.

More than 25,000 businesses operate in the ACT – and the majority are SMEs. As such, supporting them is vital to the ACT economy.

ACT Government contracts can be a significant source of work for our private sector, but SMEs can find it challenging to tender for and win government business, which is why this change is being introduced.

It will also provide an incentive for suppliers to the ACT Government to engage with local SMEs.

The criterion has been designed so that it doesn’t add to the cost of tendering, detract from value for money and safety considerations, and impinge on free trade requirements.

The criterion is just one of the measures contained in Growth, Diversification and Jobs: A Business Development Strategy for the ACT, which aims to help the local private sector to diversify, grow and create jobs.

Details of the new criterion are as follows:

Tenders over $200,000:

For Request for Tender (RFT) procurements over $200,000, tenderers will be required to indicate if they are a local SME and, if they are not a local SME, whether they will be subcontracting to a local SME.

Businesses with up to 200 full-time equivalent employees based within the South East Region Organisation of Councils (SEROC) are defined as local.

If the tenderer is an SME a default 5 per cent weighting will be applied. The weighting may be increased to 10 per cent on a case-by-case assessment.

If the tenderer is not an SME but will be subcontracting to a SEROC SME, a weighting from 1 to 5 per cent will be applied based on the proportion of the total value of the contract to be undertaken by the subcontractor.

For example, if 50 per cent of the value of the contract will be undertaken by a SEROC subcontractor a weighting of 2.5 per cent will be applied, or if 80 per cent of the value of the contract will be undertaken by a SEROC subcontractor a weighting of 4 per cent will be applied.

If a head contractor is not an SME but has indicated they will subcontract to a SEROC SME, confirmation of an arrangement with nominated subcontractors will be required as part of the tender, including an indication of the value of the work that will flow to the subcontractor.

Tenders under $200,000:

For Requests for Quotation (RFQ) for procurements under $200,000 that will be undertaken directly by ACT Government Directorates, respondents will be evaluated on three standard criteria: capability, capacity and affordability.

Once these criteria have been considered, the respondent’s SME status or SME involvement will be scored based on the same principles as outlined in the RFT process.

To find out more about ACT Government procurement visit the Shared Service Procurement website External Link - opens in new window.

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Rudds Consulting named Telstra ACT Business of the Year

Building services engineering company, Rudds Consulting Engineers, have been named the 2013 Telstra ACT Business of the Year at this year’s Telstra Business Awards.

The company was presented the award by ACT Minister for Education and Training, Joy Burch MLA, at the ACT award ceremony on 12 July 2013.

Rudds Consulting Engineers took out the overarching award after winning the Medium Business category. Chris Taylor, Telstra Country Wide Area General Manager for the ACT, said Rudds Consulting Engineers was a ground-breaking business with a strong track record on high-profile local projects and premises.

"Judges commended Rudds Consulting Engineers for its proven record in developing innovative technologies for safety and efficiency.”

"The company's impressive commitment to staff development and growth, through their philosophy of lifelong learning to create engineers of the future, also helped secure their win” Taylor said.

Other winners on the night included Shop Handmade Canberra, who took out the Start-Up Award, Canberra Furnished Accommodation, the Micro-Business Award and Residential Reports, the Small Business Award.

All winners of the ACT Telstra Business Awards now go on to compete against category winners from other states and territories in the national awards being held on 22 August 2013.

To find out more visit the Telstra Business Awards website External Link - opens in new window.