Business Connect Newsletter

March 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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Sydney Building businesses re-opening their doors

On Monday 17 February the historic Sydney Building in Canberra City was impacted by fire.

Since then, many of the businesses affected by the fire have reopened their doors to the public, after receiving the all clear from WorkSafe ACT.

The Pancake Parlour and Barracks Internet Cafe were the first to receive WorkSafe ACT clearance on Friday 21 February, recommencing trade on the Saturday following the fire. A number of other businesses have also been cleared and are now trading.

Economic Development Directorate Director-General David Dawes said the business owners, WorkSafe ACT and other government agencies had worked cooperatively to ensure the businesses could open as quickly as possible following the fire.

WorkSafe ACT and other government agencies are continuing to work with other business owners and tenants in the Sydney Building to gain the necessary clearances to reopen businesses. Additional support is also available to impacted businesses through advisory services under the Canberra BusinessPoint program, including a workshop that was held last week and one-to-one advisory services on matters such as cash flow management and general recovery planning.

The best way to now help the community of businesses impacted by the fire is get foot traffic and customers back into those that have reopened and are otherwise trading normally. The ACT Government will be doing its bit to get the word out through radio messaging in the coming weeks.

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Canberra-based Lithicon sold for $76 million

Canberra-born company Lithicon, previously known as Digitalcore, has been acquired by US company FEI for $AU76 million.

Lithicon, a world-leading digital core imaging and analysis company, was a result of the integration of Digitalcore and Norwegian company Numerical Rocks in 2013.

Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr said "This is a very exciting announcement for the ACT and a great success story for ACT innovation. Importantly, the acquisition will see Lithicon's research and development footprint increase in the ACT as the research relationship with ANU continues to expand".

The ACT Government has been a consistent supporter of the company in recent years through its business development programs including the Canberra Business Development Fund (CBDF), ANU Connect Ventures Discovery Translation Fund, Trade Connect, and the Business and Skilled Migration program.

The ACT Government's ongoing support for innovation and start-up companies is paying dividends and it is outcomes like this that drive the diversification of the Territory's economic development base.

The equity investments by both the CBDF and ANU Connect Ventures in Lithicon will also deliver a significant direct financial return to the ACT economy.

It also represents a significant achievement and opportunity for the ANU, which has signed a licensing and development agreement with FEI to use the hardware and software technology developed by the ANU.

It will allow the ANU to further develop its research in this field and strengthen its position as a world leader in digital core scanning and analysis.

"I welcome FEI, a leading instrumentation company providing imaging and analysis systems for research and industry, to Canberra. The ACT Government looks forward to FEI developing its relationship with the ANU and the ACT business community" Minister Barr said.
Victor Pantano, the new general manager of Lithicon said "This acquisition by FEI will add financial strength, distribution capabilities and complementary technical know-how to support Lithicon's future growth and development."

"The company will remain in Canberra and continue to capitalise on the infrastructure and support that the ACT offers a technology intensive business like ours."

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Canberra business helps Seahawks to Super Bowl victory

Local business GPSports has helped lead this year's US Super Bowl winning team, the Seattle Seahawks, to victory.

Founded in Canberra, GPSports' technology enables elite sporting organisations to undertake objective evaluations of player performance, both in training and competitive settings.

GPSports has been the leader in this space around the globe and over the past ten years the company has steadily established its reputation internationally. GPSports' products have been widely accepted in the elite team sports markets of soccer, rugby union, rugby league and AFL - and now the NFL.

In speaking with the Canberra Times, GPSports international sales manager Damien Hawes said ''We entered the US market last year and our first and only NFL client happened to be the Seattle Seahawks, who started using our technology from March 2013. They hadn't used any comprehensive form of tracking technology during their training sessions, ever."

''The first thing they tried to do was [work out if] the demands of their training sessions meet the demands of the games."

''By marrying those two together, they reduced the injury rates of their players this season and increased the fitness levels specific to the demands of the game.'' Read more in the Canberra Times article, ACT firm shows Seattle Seahawks way to Super Bowl glory with its super GPS External Link - opens in new window.

This isn't the only recent success that GPSports has tasted. In 2013 the business' clients collectively won a rugby World Cup championship, UEFA Europa League championship, a National Rugby League Championship, Coach of the Year, two Players of the Year and a Thailand Premier League Championship. Read more in GPSports blog post, 2013 Big Year For Sports Technology Pioneer GPSports External Link - opens in new window.

This international success has been recognised locally with GPSports winning an ACT Chief Minister's Export Award in 2010.

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IOU app helps to mix friends and money

Splitting bills and other expenses with friends, flatmates and family members can often get awkward, but a new app by two Canberra developers aims to take this pain away! makes dealing with split payments - from a group of friends contributing to a birthday gift to flatmates sharing the power bill - quick, easy and secure. The app makes everything transparent so people can see in real time who has paid whom, and who still owes money, while messaging lends a personal touch.

The app allows users to pay their friends using a debit or credit card. Secured with a validated level one PCI DSS card processing provider and advanced encryption methods, securely transfers money between friends while protecting everyone's financial details.

As well as using a debit or credit card, the app is the first of its kind to allow people to pay friends using the digital currency, Bitcoin. Bitcoin holders simply type in their Bitcoin address or scan their Bitcoin QR code and sends the recipient the amount in Australian dollars. has been developed by local business Imagine Team. The project received support through the ACT Government's Innovation Connect grant program.

Zakaria Bouguettaya, one of the developers of, said the idea for the app came about when he went for dinner with friends at a restaurant. As the restaurant had a policy against splitting bills, Bouguettaya ended up paying for everyone.

"The problem came about when I wanted to chase everyone up for payment. Individually, $20 wasn't worth an aggressive push to get the money back, but in total $120 wasn't something I could ignore," Bouguettaya said.

"I didn't want to be seen as a cheapskate, but at the same time I realised most of my friends had simply forgotten to pay me back. From there, my co-developer Andrew and I started to conceptualise an app that could manage these awkward social payment situations for you."

As well as providing the ability to transfer money, the app has a messaging feature meaning people can add the story behind a payment, discuss finer details and inject a bit of personality. shows you when someone¡¯s seen your message, adding a layer of accountability.

The app also takes away the hassle and awkwardness of chasing people for money by sending automatic reminders. Group payments are highly transparent, notifying everyone when a person makes a payment in real time, acting as a reminder to others with an added element of peer pressure.

The app is free and available to download for iOS and Android. To find out more visit the website External Link - opens in new window.

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2014 Telstra Australian Business Awards

Are you looking to get your business' achievements recognised? Entries are now open for the 2014 Telstra Australian Business Awards.

The Telstra Australian Business Awards celebrate both local and national entrepreneurs and innovators. They offer a chance for small to medium businesses to be recognised for their hard work, commitment and success. Finalists and winners of the awards can win a share of $800,000 worth of prizes.

As well as the chance to win prizes, businesses that enter the Telstra Australian Business Awards receive a 70-page report evaluating their business performance against independent benchmarking of core business indicators. These include business planning and performance, customer and financial management, HR, sales, marketing and product development.

Entries for the 2014 Telstra Australian Business Awards close midnight Monday 31 March 2014. Local winners will be announced at the ACT Gala Dinner on Friday 4 July 2014.

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

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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 ACT Government initiative, the Digital Canberra Challenge.

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.

Leading up to each round of the Challenge, people in the community and inside government 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.

Round one of the challenge is currently underway with Design Managers Australia and DigiACTive competing to develop the best solution to that round’s problems. Now it’s time to set the challenge for round two! Challenges can be submitted on a continuous basis with the challenge for round two being announced 26 March 2014. The round one winner will also be announced on this day.

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

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How to effectively promote your event among local audiences

By National Convention Centre Canberra External Link - opens in new window

Successful local community or niche-market events can be a powerful way for small businesses to connect face to face with potential customers and raise their public profile. However these events are only as effective as the audience they attract.

Here are some simple ways to efficiently reach out to the local public, with limited marketing resources, and get your next event the attention (and attendance) it deserves.

Make the most of what you’ve got, and start early

Many of your best tools for event promotion are already on hand.

Publish dedicated event pages on your own website or blog and send out advance invitations to your existing customer contact list. While this may only attract a small number of visitors, the people who view your website or blog regularly are the most likely to attend your event. With a little encouragement they might even extend the invite to others in their network.

Social media is a cost effective way to get your event in front of potential attendees. Use the social media channels you already have in place to promote the event and link back to the relevant pages of your website. Keep the content as interesting and engaging as you can and be sure to incorporate social media elements like hashtags.

Reach out to your local community through community bloggers, event listings and local free papers. It’s a no brainer that the earlier you start the more potential coverage you’ll get.

Get friendly and collaborate with influencers

Take the time to identify bloggers and other influencers in your area that cover local events, local news or tie into your niche in a relevant way.

You can offer interesting content, exclusive interviews and access to your blog for cross promotion in return for spreading the word and promoting attendance at your event. It’s a collaboration that should help both parties.

You don’t have to go it alone

Putting on an event requires a big investment of time and resources. Consider forming a partnership with a company or business that is close to your audience target. Doing this could potentially double your audience as well as helping to increase the return on investment for your event.

Remember that the more involved you are in the community, the greater the opportunity for promotion. Check out local charities and consider becoming a sponsor, or including a fundraiser as part of your event. As well as positioning your business in a positive light this can help to generate some excellent local publicity.

Spread the word

Consider the regional (or free) newspapers, local radio and community TV organisations that service your area. Local sources of advertisement are usually more accessible than larger media with much more reasonable pricing. Given enough lead-time, some of them even give free access to local event listings.

What you see is what you get

To maximise the local impact of your next event you want to be seen. Get some visibility by placing posters in strategic locations. Some event venues, such as National Convention Centre Canberra, offer advertising solutions such as an external Electronic Billboard to advertise events up to six weeks in advance.

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Upcoming events

Upcoming events in March 2014

Discover the secrets of writing great web content
ACT Digital Enterprise Hub
Date: Wednesday 5 March 2014
Find out more about the event: Discover the secrets of writing great web content External Link - opens in new window

Brand Building
Canberra BusinessPoint
Date: Thursday 6 March 2014
Find out more about the event: Brand Building External Link - opens in new window

Health and Safety Committee Course
WorkSafe ACT
Date: Friday 7 March 2014
Find out more about the event: Health and Safety Committee Course External Link - opens in new window

Six Steps to Safety – Small Business Safety Workshop
WorkSafe ACT
Date: Wednesday 12 March 2014
Find out more about the event: Six Steps to Safety External Link - opens in new window

Making word of mouth and online reviews work for your business
ACT Digital Enterprise Hub
Date: Monday 17 March 2014
Find out more about the event: Making word of mouth and online reviews work for your business External Link - opens in new window

B2B Social Media essentials and LinkedIn 102: Strategy and tactics
ACT Digital Enterprise Hub
Date: Wednesday 19 March 2014
Find out more about the event: B2B Social Media essentials and LinkedIn 102: Strategy and tactics External Link - opens in new window

Business Fundamentals
Canberra BusinessPoint
Date: Thursday 27 March 2014
Find out more about the event: Business Fundamentals External Link - opens in new window