Business Connect Newsletter

May 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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CBR Innovation Network: A new approach to promoting innovative businesses

The ACT Government recently announced an overhaul of how businesses are supported to grow, innovate and create jobs.

Innovative start-ups and companies with the potential for rapid growth will benefit from the new approach to supporting business in the ACT, with industry stakeholders helping shape the services provided for entrepreneurs and innovation focused companies.

The establishment of the CBR Innovation Network will see an overhaul of Government investment in business innovation through a new body, overseen by industry experts, which will provide a more focused approach to supporting businesses.

In February this year the Economic Development Directorate held a workshop with over 30 of its key stakeholders. The workshop recommended the establishment of an innovation network that would connect potential high growth businesses to a range of services, activities and mentors that would assist them to grow and create wealth.

To implement this vision the CBR Innovation Network will be established with the following features:

  • The network will deliver services, programs and support to a wide cross section of growth oriented companies and entrepreneurs;
  • The network will have a physical location and will also have a charter of outreach that establishes multiple delivery points or partner delivery arrangements;
  • It will be managed by the stakeholders under a governance structure shaped and agreed by the stakeholders. These include the ANU, CSIRO, NICTA, the University of Canberra and other partners who want to join the network. The ACT Government will also have representation on the management body for the network;
  • The network will be structured so that smaller players are able to participate;
  • The ACT Government will contract the network to provide a range of services to potential high growth businesses, including mentoring, access to capital, skills development, managerial skills and links to international supply chains;
  • The network will provide a ‘triage model’ for all entities that contact it, but with services that engage quite deliberately and effectively with potential high growth businesses; and
  • The services of the network will be made available to all potential high growth companies, not just companies spun out of research institutions or ICT companies.

The Government will continue its commitment to assisting all general start-up and early-stage businesses in the ACT. The existing Canberra BusinessPoint service including the existing web site will be transferred to the network and will be supported by a telephone and email service.

The CBR Innovation Network, expected to commence operations in late 2014, will complement the ACT Government’s earlier announcement to establish a Digital Hub, centred on Garema Place.

Professor Michael Cardew-Hall, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Innovation and Advancement), ANU, welcomed the announcement of the network.  “A vibrant and well connected Canberra Innovation Eco-system is essential to research institutions such as the ANU in enabling the commercial translation of world leading research,” Professor Cardew-Hall said.

Dr Phil Robertson, Chief Operating Officer of NICTA, also welcomed the announcement of the CBR Innovation Network and its role in catalysing engagement across the innovation community. “NICTA has a strong commitment to supporting innovation in the ACT, particularly where ICT is having a transformative impact on business and enabling new, high-growth opportunities,” Dr Robertson said.
Professor Frances Shannon, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) at the University of Canberra said about the network “The University of Canberra has a strong commitment to innovation and is supportive of a collaborative approach that will be facilitated through the CBR Innovation Network.”

The CBR Innovation Network gives effect to the third strategic imperative of the Business Development Strategy to accelerate innovation in the ACT.

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Canberra based accelerator program launched

In late March, as part of the ANU Connect Ventures Innovation Showcase Chief Minster Katy Gallagher MLA launched the GRIFFIN Accelerator, a Canberra-based start-up accelerator program with a focus on ‘servicing government’.

The GRIFFIN Accelerator gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to take part in a 3+3 program where they have the chance to validate their idea, develop networks and fine-tune their business model. This program model is unique where selected applicants are invited to take part in a 3 month program with $25,000 for customer validation activities, in return for 10% equity. At the end of this 3 month block, a select number of Griffin start- ups will be invited to continue for another 3 month intensive program with an additional $25,000 instalment for a further 5% equity.

Named in recognition of the contribution of the city’s founding father, Walter Burley Griffin, the GRIFFIN accelerator aims to form and support new innovative companies. Its goal is to provide a structured high growth path so start-ups exiting the program have either revenue generation capability or a strong proposition for investors.

The accelerator draws experience from a pool of mentors, each with entrepreneurial experience, skills and experience in the government sector, or a significant technology industry network.

Nick McNaughton, spokesperson for the GRIFFIN Accelerator said “This accelerator program is another building block in the early-stage innovation eco-system in our city. Last year we launched Entry 29 the co-working space which has attracted over 125 paying members since its launch in May 2013. The success of Entry 29 demonstrated the demand for an accelerator program and we are pleased to now be open for business”.

The GRIFFIN Accelerator is the product of collaboration between several of Canberra’s innovation-led institutions including the Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre, NICTA, the ANU, the University of Canberra and Ignition Labs, part of ATP Innovations.

Hamish Hawthorn, CEO of ATP Innovations said “We have extensive experience in running accelerator programs in technology, health and energy sectors. Leveraging our capability and expertise to launch other regional programs is of significant interest to us. Partnering with the impressive innovation community of the ACT to launch this in Canberra demonstrates the collaborative spirit that will make this program a success”.

The program’s focus is unique to Australia and leverages the city’s strengths. “We are so much more than a politics, public service and tax town. We have a huge customer on our door step (the Federal Government) and we have significant research and domain expertise in the themes selected for this year’s program” said Mr McNaughton.

Stage one of the GRIFFIN Accelerator program will run from 1 July – 30 September 2014 and will be based at the NICTA Research Labs in the heart of the city.

Phil Robertson, Chief Operating Officer of NICTA said “We are excited to be providing the space for this first group of start-ups. NICTA is all about bringing research and industry together and growing businesses, like we have done with our Canberra-led eGovernment Cluster”.

“These lucky start-ups will be surrounded by the large intellectual pool of NICTA researchers and PhD students to help them solve curly issues on the spot”.

The GRIFFIN Accelerator program is currently seeking applicants with solutions in the Government Software, Government Services, Defence, Education and Health space. Applications close 23 May 2014.

To find out more visit the GRIFFIN Accelerator website External Link - opens in new window.

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 ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher signing a MOU with Shanghai Normal University

ACT on show at Australia in China Week

In April, ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher took part in the Australian Government led program, Australia in China Week. As part of the ACT Government's participation in the program, the Chief Minister met with a series of leaders and investors in the Chinese business and education sectors to promote Canberra as a preferred destination for trade, investment and education.

"The ACT is already forging strong links with China particularly with tertiary education institutions and this trip provides the ACT with an important opportunity to re-connect with those institutions while also establishing new links with business and other educational organisations," the Chief Minister said.

"Being part of this important relationship building program will lift the profile of Canberra in China as an important destination for two-way trade, investment, student recruitment and of course tourism visitation."

A centrepiece for the trip was promoting the ACT Government's City to the Lake and Capital Metro projects.

"The City to the Lake project will bring the city centre to life with the possibility of a new convention centre and stadium as well as the development of the West Basin Foreshore to recreational and business opportunities” the Chief Minister said.

"While this is a big and exciting project for Canberra, we also need to consider the best model to deliver the project in an economically responsible way and this of course involves investment.”

Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr said that response to the project had been positive both from Canberrans and potential interstate and international investors.

"This is one of the largest urban renewal opportunities in Australia and is a unique opportunity for investors" Minister Barr said.
"Any investment that may stem from the government's engagement during the Chief Minister's trip and in other forums will have a benefit to the local economy and help to make the plans of City to the Lake a reality."

Many Canberra businesses have built up close ties with China over the years and the Chief Minister’s trip to China has only strengthened these relationships.

"It's my intention to ensure that existing relationships with China continue to strengthen, and that we grasp every opportunity to foster new ones, particularly in business, education and diplomatic arenas," the Chief Minister concluded.

Find out more about the Chief Minister’s involvement in Australia in China Week in the following media releases:

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Augmented reality bringing cultural sites to life

Six Canberra-based businesses have recently been awarded funding from the latest round of the Innovation Connect grant program.

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

Since the program was established in 2008, funding of more than $3.2 million has been awarded to 127 local businesses, an amount that was at least matched by the grant recipients.

Among the grant recipients is Paramodic Pty Ltd, who are developing a second-stage prototype for curating and augmenting a narrative of indigenous cultural sites, artefacts and intangible heritage using smart devices.

“The grant will help us to work with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and beyond to enable and inspire our communities to embrace, build, and adapt digital technologies to create real educational and commercial opportunities,” says Ms Mikaela Griffiths, Managing Director of Paramodic Pty Ltd.

The other successful recipients were:

  • Dilkara Hair for the commercialisation of an Indigenous professional hair salon range with specific botanical ingredients consisting of unique natural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander blends;
  • Correct Communications Pty Ltd for the development of a unique cloud-based service focussed on the unified communications needs of small to medium businesses;
  • Targeted Genomics Pty Ltd for the development of high-speed, high-resolution and cost effective genomic testing technologies for the routine quality and safety assessment of drinking and recreational water;
  • XCOM-1 Pty Ltd t/as HaystackHQ for the development of a web-based visual analytics service for legal eDiscovery targeting regulatory agencies, tier-1 law firms and the Fortune 5000 companies they serve; and
  • Candra Innovations for developing a system for improving dental health with self-screening targeted brushing and networking with professionals using miniature intra-oral camera for oral hygiene devices.

To find out more visit our Innovation Connect page.

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Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr launching the 2014 ACT Chief Minister's Export Awards

Launch of 2014 Chief Minister’s Export Awards

On 30 April 2014, Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr launched the 2014 ACT Chief Minister’s Export Awards.

The awards highlight the importance and growth of the ACT’s exporting community and 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 $1.3 billion worth of products and services being exported annually from the ACT.

The ACT continues to develop global businesses with ACT Exporter of the Year winner, Aspen Medical, going on to win its second Australian Export Award in 2013.

Other winners of the ACT Chief Minister’s Export Awards are also experiencing significant success in their international markets including Datapod who took the opportunity at the launch to announce they had signed a $2 million contract to export a data centre system to a US government department.

Speaking to the Canberra Times, Datapod's Managing Director, Scott Carr said cracking the US market was the last milestone for the company's entry into worldwide exports after beginning with the Asia-Pacific market and later Europe.

"[The US] is a much more competitive and mature market," he said.

"But we have demonstrated we can be competitive against big companies. Datapod was born global, we set up the company for a worldwide market from day one."

Mr Carr also said that he was not surprised the ACT's export market was growing.

"We know there are a lot of very talented, highly skilled engineers and technicians in Canberra."

"We've got a strong technological base and a great skills base we can draw on" continued Mr Carr. Read more in the Canberra Times article, Capital's export growth leads the nation External Link - opens in new window.

Winning an ACT Chief Minister’s Export Award has helped Datapod with this success.  After winning the Small to Medium Manufacturing category in 2012 Datapod's director, Adam Smith said "The ACT Chief Minister’s Export Awards provides companies with industry recognition and commercial acknowledgment" said Mr Smith.

"By receiving a substantial, peer-reviewed award, Datapod can further demonstrate to potential buyers that it has received industry confidence and backing." Read more in our blog post, Local business making worldwide impact on the technology industry.

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

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Should your business be paying FBT?

Fringe benefits tax (FBT) returns are nearly due. So time to ask the question, should your business be lodging a return?

Fringe benefits are benefits that you provide to your employees or their associates, such as their family members. These are benefits in place or on top of their regular salary or wage.

Does your company provide fringe benefits to your employees? Ask yourself:

  • Do you make cars or other vehicles owned or leased by your business available to employees for private use, including a car garaged at an employee's place of residence?
  • Do you provide a house or other accommodation for your employees?
  • Do you provide entertainment such as food, drink or free tickets to your employees?
  • Do you pay the gym fees for an employee?
  • Do you provide your employees with living away from home allowances?
  • Do any of your employees have a salary package arrangement in place?
  • Have you paid for, or reimbursed, a non-business expense incurred by an employee such as school fees?
  • Have you provided your employees with goods at a lower price than they are normally sold to the public?

As an employer, you must pay fringe benefits tax (FBT) if you provide these types of benefits to your employees. It makes no difference if you are a sole trader, partnership, trust, corporation, unincorporated association or government body.

FBT is separate from income tax and is based on the taxable value of the fringe benefits provided. You may, however, claim an income tax deduction for the cost of providing fringe benefits and for the FBT you pay.

If you are liable for the tax, you must lodge a FBT return at the end of the FBT year. The FBT year is different from the standard financial year and runs from 1 April to 31 March. If this is the first year you will be lodging an FBT return, you will also need to register for FBT External Link - opens in new window.

FBT returns must be lodged with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) by 21 May 2014. If a tax practitioner is preparing your annual FBT return, different lodgement arrangements may apply.

To find out more about FBT visit the Australian Taxation Office website External Link - opens in new window.

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Upcoming events

Upcoming events in May 2014

Founder Connect
Organiser: GRIFFIN Accelerator/Entry 29
Date: Thursday 8 May 2014
Find out more about the event: Founder Connect External Link - opens in new window

What makes a successful brand?
Organiser: Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre/Canberra BusinessPoint
Date: Wednesday 14 May 2014
Find out more about the event: What makes a successful brand? External Link - opens in new window

Email Marketing Essentials
Organiser: ACT Digital Enterprise
Date: Wednesday 14 May 2014
Find out more about the event: Email Marketing Essentials External Link - opens in new window

Google Adwords: Stand out from the Crowd in 2014
Organiser: ACT Digital Enterprise
Date: Wednesday 14 May 2014
Find out more about the event: Google Adwords: Stand out from the Crowd in 2014 External Link - opens in new window

GRIFFIN Accelerator pre-program workshop
‘Intellectual property, start-up speed dating, meet your co-founder’
Organiser: GRIFFIN Accelerator
Date: Wednesday 14 May 2014
Find out more about the event: GRIFFIN Accelerator pre-program workshop External Link - opens in new window

The Secrets of Networking Revealed!
Organiser: Canberra BusinessPoint
Date: Thursday 15 May 2014
Find out more about the event: The Secrets of Networking Revealed! External Link - opens in new window

GRIFFIN Accelerator pre-program workshop
‘Mentor roulette’
Organiser: GRIFFIN Accelerator
Date: Wednesday 21 May 2014
Find out more about the event: GRIFFIN Accelerator pre-program workshop External Link - opens in new window

Understanding the transition to self-employment
Canberra BusinessPoint
Date: Thursday 22 May 2014
Find out more about the event: Understanding the transition for self-employment External Link - opens in new window

Choice and Control Expo
Organiser: Advocacy for Inclusion
Date: Thursday 22 May 2014
Find out more about the event: Choice and Control Expo External Link - opens in new window

Networking: Success, Succession and Sustainability
Canberra BusinessPoint
Date: Tuesday 27 May 2014
Find out more about the event: Networking: Success, Succession and Sustainability External Link - opens in new window

Business Fundamentals
Canberra BusinessPoint
Date: Thursday 29 May 2014
Find out more about the event: Business Fundamentals External Link - opens in new window