Business Connect Newsletter

February 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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Group shot of the 'Hackers' in 2013 Hackathon ACT

Canberra innovators compete at Hackathon

Late last year, a number of local innovators and entrepreneurs participated in Hackathon ACT (HACT), a 32 hour challenge that required teams to design and launch a new digital product or service.

There were over 50 participants in the December event which was hosted at Canberra co-working space, Entry 29.

In speaking to StartupSmart about HACT, event coordinator Matt Stimson said that Canberra had a lot of strength in software development and with uncertainty in the air at the moment a lot of people are going to take the plunge into starting their own business.

"It"ll be an interesting time for the ecosystem but we're setting up well for the influx" Stimson says. Read more in StartupSmart's article Canberra launches first commercially-focused hackathon.

The 'hackers' competed for a number of prizes with the winners being:

Most Viable Startup
Winner - Dish Smith: Meal Planning Web App: An app that tracks your food patterns and automatically creates meal plans.
Runner Up - Casterly: Podcast Discovery

Most Innovative Idea
Winner - CloudBoard: Copy. Cloud. Paste: Software that is a shared clipboard enabling copying, pasting and filing across multiple devices.
Runner Up - Codie Compare: Comparative Retail App for Google Glass

Best Innovation for Government
Winner - FormaQ: Form & Queue Automation App: A ticketing app to manage lines at government service providers.
Runner Up - Drawing Diagrams with Text

Find out more about the event on the HACT website External Link - opens in new window.

Left: The 'Hackers' in action. Right: The Cloudboard team, winners of the UberGlobal Prize for Most Innovative Idea at Hackathon ACT.

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Left: Seeing Machines CEO Ken Kroeger. Right: Screen shot of Seeing Machines technolgy

Successful 12 months for Seeing Machines

Local technology company Seeing Machines has capped off a successful 12 months, signing a deal in December with leading European coach company Royal Beuk. The deal will install Seeing Machines' driver fatigue monitoring system in 20 Royal Buek vehicles.

Seeing Machines' driver fatigue monitoring system automatically tracks a driver's eyes and face to identify signs of fatigue and to alert the driver if they become distracted or have a microsleep.

The agreement to install this system in the vehicles marks the end of a successful 2013 for the company who just a month before raised close to $25 million (£15 million) from investors on the London Stock Exchange.

In speaking with the Canberra Times, Seeing Machines Chief Executive Ken Kroeger said the company's first deal with a coach fleet operator was part of global moves to commercialise their technology across a range of transport fields.

"The big advantage of the larger intake of capital is that it allows us to move into those other segments that would have taken us longer - commercial transport, aviation and private passenger cars".

"In the next six months we'll be announcing a number of large commercial road transport pilot programs with carriers in Australia, Europe and North America" Mr Kroeger said. Read more in the Canberra Times article, Seeing Machines: Company changes into top gear as its driver fatigue monitor takes off External Link - opens in new window.

In the same year, Seeing Machines also signed a deal with global mining company Caterpillar, again for their driver fatigue system. In a separate article with the Canberra Times, Mr Kroeger said Caterpillar looked at 32 products around the world before signing the agreement with Seeing Machines.

''It's a $60 billion company, they do most things themselves. The fact they chose us sort of proves we are an accepted science within the industry,'' he said. Read more in the Canberra Times article Mining Giant sees the light, via Canberra External Link - opens in new window.

Seeing Machines began from a research hub at the Australian National University over a decade ago and while it is now listed on the London Stock Exchange, the company still remains headquartered in Canberra.

Seeing Machines now exports to 13 countries and has been recognised in the ACT Chief Minister's Export Award, winning the ICT category in 2013 and the Small to Medium Services category in 2012. They have also been involved in the Entrepreneur Development Fund (EDF) External Link - opens in new window, a program funded by the ACT Government, Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre External Link - opens in new window and Epicorp Limited which supports high growth potential ACT based businesses to develop or refine key skills and capabilities, grow the company, and achieve their business goals.

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Image from the Galore production

Canberra film 'Galore' selected for Berlin International Film Festival

Galore, a film about a teenage love triangle set against Canberra's 2003 bushfires, has been selected for the Berlin International Film Festival External Link - opens in new window being held this month.

The film is the first feature financed through our ACT Screen Investment Fund and was shot in Canberra last year with a number of Canberrans filling crew positions on the production. The Berlin announcement follows Galore's world premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival in 2013.

Writer-director Rhys Graham grew up in Canberra and pulled together a cast featuring some of Australia's most promising young actors including Ashleigh Cummings (Puberty Blues), Lily Sullivan (Mental) and Toby Wallace (Never Tear Us Apart).

Producer Phillippa Campey said "it's really a great honour to have been selected into one of the world's best film festivals. We are thrilled to have our debut feature in the festival, alongside so many extraordinary films and filmmakers who we admire and are inspired by, especially given that Rhys' work has been celebrated here in the past."

The Berlin International Film Festival is widely regarded as one of the top three film festivals in the world.

This year for the first time a small delegation from the local Canberra film industry will also be attending the festival. The group, led by ScreenACT Director Monica Penders, will be looking to present their films to the international film buyers. Making a sale to even one international region can result in a project getting the 'green light', starting the film's financing and helping move the project closer to production.

To help support this export market development activity, the local film makers have received assistance though the ACT Government's Trade Connect grant program. Both the Trade Connect program and the ACT Screen Investment Fund are initiatives within Growth, Diversification and Jobs: A Business Development Strategy for the ACT.

Watch the Galore trailer External Link - opens in new window.

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Are you meeting all your compliance obligations? ABLIS can help!

As a business owner, it is your responsibility to be aware of and understand all the regulations that apply to your business activities.

The Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) External Link - opens in new window is a searchable online tool that helps you find these and the government controls your business needs to comply with. For ACT businesses, ABLIS contains information about all the licences – sometimes referred to as permits or approvals – and codes of practice that you need to operate your business.

ABLIS saves you time by providing a single website to gather all the compliance information you need. ABLIS results include information summaries, links to forms and contact information for the relevant agency if you need more information.

While ABLIS is designed with starting a business in mind, established businesses can also use ABLIS to check their compliance responsibilities, or to check for new requirements when you are growing or adding a new business activity.

The first step is found on the home page – you will need to enter a business type and a location to get started.

The business type matches to the ANZSIC classification system External Link - opens in new window, so if you’re not getting matches you can check what terms ANZSIC uses to describe your business. If you still don’t get a business type match or a list of business types to select from, try entering commas between each word or you can contact us for help.

If you are based in the ACT, all of the results that ABLIS provides are legal requirements. But there are some important differences between Licences and Codes of Practice. To find out more about the differences, visit our ABLIS page.

If you need help with understanding the regulations, your ABLIS results include contact details so that you can contact the relevant area of government.

If you’re based in the ACT, you can also contact Canberra BusinessPoint, the ACT Government’s business mentoring and advisory service. They can offer support and tailored advice in the establishment, operation and development of your business. You can contact them on 1300 648 641 or visit External Link - opens in new window for more information.

If you have found any regulations that affect or impede your ability to do business in the ACT, you can report it using Fix my Red Tape External Link - opens in new window – an online feedback tool designed for you to provide feedback or suggested reforms. You can also ask questions and lodge complaints through this form.

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$8 million investment and jobs for Canberra's manufacturing sector

Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr MLA has opened a new manufacturing facility for printing and communications services business, Focus Press.

Located in Hume, the facility will help to create up to 50 local jobs in the manufacturing sector as well as apprenticeships and traineeships.

Focus Press Managing Director, Mr David Fuller, said, "We've made a big commitment to doing business in Canberra with an initial $8 million investment in the region as well as creating up to fifty local manufacturing jobs."

Minister Barr congratulated Focus Press on its move to the ACT.

"As the ACT moves into its second century, we want to ensure that our economy is diverse, strong, and that we attract forward-looking businesses such as Focus Press to our region."

"I congratulate Focus Press on their decision to set-up shop in Canberra, boost our economy and provide jobs for Canberrans, particularly our young people who are looking for careers in the printing industry," Mr Barr said.

Focus Press is a family-owned business with operations in four sites in Sydney, Wollongong and now Canberra. The Hume facility will provide online communication solutions, digital and offset printing, security printing, quality assured graphic design services, promotional merchandise, warehousing and distribution. 

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Does it have legs? 3 things to ask yourself before you quit your day job

By Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre External Link - opens in new window

With many Australians considering launching a small business each year, it’s important that they give their business idea a once over before embarking on their entrepreneurial journey.

1. Does the business idea satisfy a compelling unserved need?

Finding an idea worth pursuing is about working out who wants what you’re offering so badly that they’ll buy it even if it’s an early version made by a start-up without a proven track record.

Identifying the intensity of the need and the inability of your potential market to solve the problem gives you an idea of the likely demand there will be for your offering. But before you print those business cards, you still need to consider how many people this is important to and work out whether there are enough of them to build a business around.

2. What is the risk of failure?

Sometimes even with a compelling need, the risks outweigh the opportunities and an idea is best shelved until the market is more receptive to it. It’s important to look at things like changing trends, the impact of socio-economic and regulatory factors as well as dependence on outside resources before deciding to proceed. Very often these risks can be managed, but it’s better to understand what they are from the outset rather than hit an iceberg a couple of months in.

3. How will the business make money?

Having a business model that makes sense often takes a lot of thought and planning. You need to have a good understanding of the resources you will need to operate the business as well as the profitability of your products and services. Many companies have to re-visit their business model a few times before getting it right.

When you launch a new business you’re putting a lot on the line – your money, your time, your reputation and very often your relationships, so it’s important to give yourself the best chance of success. Investing the time upfront to refine your idea and improve areas of weakness can save you a lot of heartache down the track.

If you need some help evaluating your business idea, Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre has developed an online tool that draws on extensive research and input from business facilitators, researchers and subject experts as well as the hundreds of start-ups who work with Lighthouse to commercialise their ideas. You can view the tool at External Link - opens in new window.

Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre is a joint initiative between the ACT Government and Epicorp Limited. Lighthouse can provide you with advice, education and training, mentorship and networking opportunities to help commercialise your idea and grow your business.

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Upcoming events

Upcoming events in February 2014

Entry 29 Founders Series - Dr Miles Jakeman
Organiser: Entry 29
Date: Thursday 6 February 2014
Find out more about the event: Entry 29 Founders Series with Dr Miles Jakeman External Link - opens in new window.

The Work Health and Safety Act explained
Organiser: WorkSafe ACT
Date: Friday 7 February 2014
Find out more about the event: The Work Health and Safety Act explained External Link - opens in new window.

Work Health and Safety in the retail industry
Organiser: WorkSafe ACT
Date: Tuesday 11 February 2014 or Friday 14 February 2014
Find out more about the event: Work Health and Safety in the retail industry External Link - opens in new window.

Business Fundamentals
Canberra BusinessPoint
Date: Thursday 13 February 2014
Find out more about the event: Business Fundamentals External Link - opens in new window.

Sales & Marketing with Herbert J. Field - 3 Part Series
Organiser: Canberra BusinessPoint
Date: Tuesday 18 February 2014
Find out more about the event: Sales & Marketing with Herbert J. Field External Link - opens in new window.

Minimum Viable Legal Protection for Start-ups
Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre
Date: Wednesday 19 February 2014
Find out more about the event: Minimum Viable Legal Protection for Start-ups External Link - opens in new window.

Business Planning
Organiser: Canberra BusinessPoint
Date: Tuesday 25 February 2014
Find out more about the event: Business Planning External Link - opens in new window.

Office Safety
Organiser: WorkSafe ACT
Date: Tuesday 25 February 2014
Find out more about the event: Office Safety External Link - opens in new window.

Find more events on our event calendar.

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