Business Connect Newsletter

April 2014

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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State of the Territory text banner

Chief Minister’s State of the Territory address

On Thursday 13 March 2013, Chief Minister Katy Gallagher MLA delivered her annual State of the Territory address.

In her speech, 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.  During the address she also unveiled two key strategies which would be implemented to help achieve this, the final version of the City Plan and the Digital Canberra Action Plan.

The City Plan, which had previously been released in draft form, creates a blueprint for the transformation of Canberra’s city centre. It highlights a step forward for the area and includes 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.

Included in the City Plan, and perhaps one of its defining features, is the introduction of light rail as the spine of Canberra’s future public transport network and catalyst for an economic resurgence along Northbourne Avenue.

The Chief Minister said “Capital Metro is not only a transport solution; it’s a city-building project – a major capital investment which delivers against other key priorities I am laying out today”.

During the address, the Chief Minister also released the Digital Canberra Action Plan, a plan which aims to accelerate the development of a high growth digital economy.

“Together, let’s dispel the idea that a government town can’t compete globally at the cutting edge of innovation and digital technology. The government’s determination to do this is the reason we have developed a strategy to create a truly digital city”, stated the Chief Minister.

The action plan sets out initiatives to develop and promote Canberra as a modern, dynamic, digital city including the introduction of free Wi-Fi areas and the transformation of Garema Place into a digital space. It will assist the ACT Government to better engage with citizens, be more open and transparent, and deliver services more efficiently to meet the needs of businesses and the community. Read more in our article Creating a digital city.

To find out more about key points covered in the Chief Minister’s State of the Territory address read our blog post. To view full version of the Chief Minister’s State of the Territory address visit our website.

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Winners of the Digital Canberra Challenge

Digital Canberra Challenge awards ACT innovators

Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr MLA has launch Round 2 of the Digital Canberra Challenge and presented prizes to the winners of Round 1 of the Competition.

The Digital Canberra Challenge, an initiative of Growth, Diversification and Jobs: A Business Development Strategy for the ACT, aims to create a more effective and efficient government by working with local innovators to develop new and improved digital government services. The program has been developed to align closely with the ACT Government’s broader digital Canberra agenda.

The Digital Canberra Challenge features two competition rounds a year with Round 1 of the competition launched in August 2013. Since then:

  • The general public and members of the ACT Public Service have put forward a total of 21 unresolved business requirements, or challenges.
  • From this pool, two challenges were selected and ACT innovators were invited to submit proposed solutions for them.
  • Eleven ACT innovators submitted their proposed solutions, and two teams were selected to develop proof-of-concept prototypes and compete for the prizes.
  • Over the past three months, DigiACTive has partnered with the ACT Government Territory and Municipal Services Directorate to develop a proof-of-concept prototype to provide an online permit approval service that allows people to submit their applications online with guidance and checklists.
  • Design Managers Australia has partnered with the ACT Government Justice and Community Service Directorate to develop a proof-of-concept prototype to set up an online facility which allows people to view service availability time slots and then book and pay for it.

In what was an extremely competitive Round 1, the DigiACTive team, comprising three ANU undergraduates, has emerged as the inaugural winner taking home $12,500 in prize money.  Design Managers Australia, a Canberra based specialist service design agency working with private, public, community and volunteer organisations, received $7,500 as runner-up.

The work that both companies delivered in a partnership arrangement with the ACT directorates has been exceptional. The government recognises that the best outcome for the competition would be for the companies to continue the development work commercially with the directorates. The ACT Government will be looking at ways of progressing this.

At the award ceremony, Minister Barr also launched Round 2 of the Digital Canberra Competition. From a list of approximately 30 challenges submitted for the round by ACT public servants and others in the community, the 2 challenges chosen are:

Challenge 1: Better access to hospital information about patient's progress; facilities and services; and
Challenge 2: Improved ACT service delivery through a streamlined personal identity system.

To find out more or to participate the challenge, visit the Digital Canberra Challenge website External Link - opens in new window.

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Creating a leading digital city

Creating a leading digital city. That’s the ultimate goal of the ACT Government’s new Digital Canberra Action Plan, unveiled by Chief Minister Katy Gallagher MLA during her State of the Territory address on 13 March 2014.

The action plan sets out initiatives for Canberra to accelerate the development of a high growth digital economy. Backed by a $4.4 million investment, it shows the government’s vision to develop and promote Canberra as a modern, dynamic, digital city. The plan also 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.

Development of the action plan has involved research of current and future trends in the drivers of digital change in Australia and overseas. Extensive consultation with internal and external stakeholders was undertaken, including a digital consultation through the ACT Government’s Time-to-Talk website and the Digital Canberra survey.

In her State of the Territory address, the Chief Minister said the plan “puts new impetus behind the government’s commitment to lead by example – using technology to be a more open government, making it easier for people to access our services, innovating in how we engage with the community and cutting red tape for local business”.

The Digital Canberra Action Plan has five key priorities:

  1. The roll out of free Wi-Fi in Canberra will start to come online in Civic from the second half of this year. Free Wi-Fi will then roll out in other town centres and commercial precincts to deliver the benefits of greater connectivity across the ACT. Once complete, the Territory’s network will be the largest free outdoor public network in Australia.  
  2. Garema Place will become the centre of digital innovation in Canberra through the creation of a dedicated digital space and digital screen. The space will create a new forum for the meeting of creative minds and creative digital ideas in the city. It will be a very visible reminder of Canberra’s excellence in the digital world and another illustration of contemporary urban development in the heart of the city.
    Connected to the Garema Place digital space, the ACT Government is looking to create a digital and innovation hub as a service centre for digital government and the digital economy. This hub would help concentrate the development and incubation of digital ideas – building both the culture and the capability of the sector through practical support to connect innovators with applications in government and industry.
  3. Digital Business Capacity Building Workshops that will respond to research the government carried out last year around the digital capabilities and needs of our business community. The ACT Government will invest $80,000 to give the business community the practical assistance to make the most of the digital economy and achieve the growth it can help deliver.
  4. In further support for businesses that choose to up-skill, grants totalling $225,000 for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics internships will offer the private sector support to train their staff.
  5. The Innovation Pitch Panel that will create a forum for local innovations aimed directly at the ACT Government.

To find out more visit the Digital Canberra Action Plan website External Link - opens in new window.

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Discover the Singapore market

The ACT Government, in partnership with Austrade and the ACT Exporters’ Network, is seeking expressions of interest from Canberra based businesses to participate in a trade mission to Singapore.

The purpose of the mission is to enable Canberra exporters to explore and capitalise on the opportunities in this significant market.

The mission will be led by Deputy Chief Minister, Andrew Barr MLA.

Mission dates: 16 June – 21 June 2014
Target city: Singapore
Industry sector: Knowledge intensive business services, education, health, ICT, tourism.

As with previous trade missions, the ACT Government will subsidise company participation and facilitate programming of high level group networking activities and events.

Businesses that meet the ACT Trade Connect Program criteria will also be able to access funding support for travel and accommodation to a maximum of $3,000 on a matched dollar for dollar basis. Your expenses to participate in this mission may also be eligible expenditure under the Export Market Development Grant (EMDG) Scheme External Link - opens in new window.

Places on this trade mission are limited, and companies will be selected based on their export readiness and the suitability of their service or product offering for the relevant markets.

To find out more download the ACT Trade Mission to Singapore Expression of Interest flyer.

Expressions of interest close Friday 18 April 2014.

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Capital Angels provide helping hand to start-up businesses

Knowing where, and how, to raise money is one of the biggest challenges to face start-up businesses, but a specially developed master class held on 19 March 2014 helped businesses navigate this early growth phase.

The class was presented by Capital Angels, a private sector driven investor initiative which was formed in 2005 to provide a forum for high-net worth individuals to proactively support our region’ s entrepreneurs by providing investment and business support.

Experienced business leaders and investors presented case studies on a range of topics relevant to start-ups and high-growth enterprises. The master class was a great chance for local businesses and entrepreneurs to hear from experts in their fields. Included in the program were presentations from peak government funding bodies, investment agencies and experienced Canberra entrepreneurs.

Chairman of Capital Angels Michele Troni said: "The keys to successfully raising capital is to know your business, understand what investors are looking for and standing out from the crowd.

"When putting their money behind a venture, investors are looking for a well developed and tested idea, a good understanding of the relevant market, a qualified and enthusiastic team, scalability and a clear exit strategy”.

"If we can help early-stage Canberra businesses gain a better understanding of the funding environment, and hear the experiences of those who have gone down the funding path before, then those new business operators stand a better chance of not only surviving, but excelling”.

"A number of Canberra companies have already achieved excellent results, proving that our city has what it takes to turn innovative ideas into winning businesses" continued Mr Troni.

The ACT Government is committed to supporting innovation, entrepreneurship, and the Government’s Business Development Strategy contains numerous initiatives to support businesses. Prior to the event, Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr said he was looking forward to opening the master class and highlighting the importance of a clear funding path for the creation of new innovative businesses which will help to diversify Canberra’s economy.

The event was proudly sponsored by the Citadel Group and the Canberra Airport – two Canberra success stories and examples of what local businesses can aspire to. The ACT Government contributed $15,000 in seed funding and a further $5000 to establish the Capital Angels website.

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QuintessenceLabs named Australia’s most innovative small company by AIIA

2013 ACT Emerging Exporter winner QuintessenceLabs has added another title to its belt, being named Australia’s most innovative small company by the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA).

The prestigious recognition resulted from a comprehensive national study of the innovation culture of organisations conducted for the AIIA by the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). The study, led by Professor Steve Burdon from the UTS, examined ten requirements for a superior culture of innovation including vision, integration of innovation, adaptability to change, inclusive culture and action orientation.

Dr Vikram Sharma, Founder and CEO of QuintessenceLabs said “We are honoured to have received this recognition and are deeply grateful to the AIIA and UTS”.

“As Professor Burdon noted, the research recognised organisations for their development of a culture supportive of the development and execution of good ideas, taking measured risks and focused on growth. I am privileged to work with a team that embraces these traits” continued Dr Sharma.

Canberra-based QuintessenceLabs is a Quantum Cyber Security company and the world’s first to harness the quantum properties of lasers to deliver a new generation of cryptographic protection for data.

Through combining information communication technologies with the laws of quantum physics, they work to protect digital information for the purposes of national security and the economic prosperity of a variety of businesses and industries.

Earlier this year the company successfully completed a global capital raise and established a team in the United States.

“QuintessenceLabs’ advanced data security solutions are experiencing strong demand from federal and enterprise customers”, said Dr Sharma.

”Our recent successful fund raise has enabled us to appoint a high calibre leadership team to drive growth in North America.”

This success comes after QuintessenceLabs won the Emerging Exporter Award at both the 2011 and 2013 ACT Chief Minister’s Export Awards. Read more about QuintessenceLabs and the ACT Chief Minister’s Export Awards.

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Sustainability and your business

Looking to make your business more sustainable? The ACT Government’s ACTSmart Business program can provide advice and rebates to your business and can help you take steps to improve your energy and water efficiency.

As well as playing your part in helping the environment, you can also see benefits for your business. An example of this is the Cook Friendly Grocer that, through accessing the ACTSmart Business Energy and Water program, has halved the amount of power required to light its building.

In 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. Read more ACTSmart business stories External Link - opens in new window.

Has your business been involved with the ACTSmart Business Program? Why not nominate for the 2014 ACTSmart Business Sustainability Awards.

Now in its fifth year, the ACTSmart Business Sustainability Awards showcase outstanding sustainability contributions made by ACTSmart organisations. Celebrating efficiencies in the use of water and energy, better waste management and recycling practices, they reward projects that have achieved exemplary sustainability practices across the ACT and Queanbeyan.

Nominating for the awards can benefit your business in a number of ways. They can provide recognition of your business’ success; boost your reputation as a leader in sustainability and celebrate the achievements of your staff and customers.

Nominations for the 2014 ACTSmart Business Sustainability Awards close 5pm Monday 5 May 2014.

To find out more about the ACTSmart Business Program or the 2014 ACTSmart Business Sustainability Awards visit the ACTSmart website External Link - opens in new window.