Business Connect Newsletter


This newsletter provides business news and events on the programs and activities of the Innovation, Trade and Investment branch, part of the ACT Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate.

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Helping local business develop digital skills

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher is inviting Canberra's business and not-for-profit community to participate in free Digital Business Capacity Building Workshops to accelerate business engagement with the ACT digital economy.

The free workshops are part of the ACT Government's Digital Canberra initiative, in partnership with Canberra Business Council, and focus on building the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capacity of Canberra's business community.

"These workshops are open to all businesses and non-profits in the Canberra community and focus on topics such as cloud computing, utilising digital tools in a business context and effective social media," the Chief Minister said.

"The popularity of the workshops is clear to see with every session since the program's inception in May 2014 being fully subscribed. It's great to see such an interest from the Canberra business community in the digital economy."

"All of the workshops are aimed at providing businesses with key information on how to successfully navigate the digital space and how they can use the tools and technology available to benefit their business and improve the relationship they have with customers.

"We've already heard from many businesses that have attended the workshops and successfully implemented change within their own organisations to lower costs, increase revenues and become more efficient.

"For any local business hoping for some practical knowledge, advice, information and insights from leaders in Canberra's ICT sector, I encourage you to register before workshop spaces fill up," the Chief Minister concluded.

For businesses interested in attending the workshops, they will be held once a month for the remainder of the year on the following dates:

  • 24 September 
  • 30 October
  • 27 November
  • 10 Dec 10

Workshops will include topics such as how to have a mobile workforce, unified communications, utilising cloud technology and engaging with new customers.

To register interest in receiving further information on the monthly workshops email or contact Canberra Business Council on and 6247 4199.

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New award to recognise local scientists

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has announced the introduction of a new science award at the Canberra launch of National Science Week. The ‘ACT Scientist of the Year’ will be awarded annually by the ACT Government with the recipient to receive $30,000 to assist with an identified research project.

“Canberra has long been recognised as a centre of excellence in research and innovation, and this new award will provide a local scientist with support to further their research,” the Chief Minister said.

“Each year the award will be themed around a particular field of scientific endeavour. Details of the theme for the first year, and the nomination and judging process, will be announced later in the year.”

“The introduction of the ACT Scientist of the Year can only serve to build on our city’s reputation as a ‘smart city’ and a world leader in scientific research and innovation.’

Nominations for the award will be called for in early 2015, with the winner to be presented with the first award during National Science Week in August 2015.

The award has been welcomed by leaders in the field of Science, including the Chief Scientist of Australia, Professor Ian Chubb AC.

“As a city that is home to some of the finest scientific minds in the country and world-class research institutions, it is pleasing to learn that the ACT Government is providing additional assistance to the local scientific community,” Professor Chubb said.

Current Canberra Citizen of the Year and eminent medical researcher, Professor Chris Parish, also congratulated the ACT Government on the initiative.

“This support for a Canberra-based scientist will provide another opportunity to showcase the contribution that Canberrans make to the world of science, both nationally and worldwide,” Professor Parish said.

The ACT Government currently supports a range of science-related activities and events, including National Science Week, TedEX and the Inspiring Australia program.

For more information visit the ACT Scientist of the Year webpage.

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Canberra businesses recognised at Australian Startup Awards

Canberra-based business Red Robot has won the competitive ‘Product Business of the Year’ category at this year’s Australian Startup Awards External Link - opens in new window.

The awards, presented on 2 August 2014, recognise and celebrate the best talent in young entrepreneurship in Australia. Applications are assessed by some of Australia’s most successful entrepreneurs with this year’s judging panel including BRW Young Rich List members Ruslan Kogan, Dorry Kordahi and Clair Jennifer.

Founded in 2011, winning business Red Robot External Link - opens in new window develop and distribute innovative photo and imaging technologies and supplies, now becoming one of Australia's largest photo booth suppliers and exporters.

Red Robot was awarded funding under the ACT Government’s Innovation Connect grant program. Since that time the company has evolved from a simple Photo Booth manufacturer into a team of creative people specialising in the niche market of photo sharing technology. They have surpassed the $1 million milestone in domestic annual sales and are at an all-time high production output level.

On Red Robot’s win at the awards, ACT Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr said “Canberra is home to many such innovative small and medium business enterprises and to win such an award while up against such strong national competition is a great credit to co-founder Phil Preston and his innovative hardworking team.”

“It is start-up companies like Red Robot that are helping us to diversify our economy and also create employment opportunities for our highly skilled and enthusiastic young IT professionals.”

Red Robot weren’t the only local business to be recognised at the awards, with Canberra’s OnTheGo Sports named a finalist in both the ‘Product Business of the Year’ and ‘Startup of the Year’ categories.

OnTheGo Sports, who recently had success as part of the ACT Government’s Trade Mission to Singapore, was founded in early 2010. The business is fast becoming a global leader in quality custom made sportswear and uniform items, holding contracts with over 60% of Australasia’s health club market. 

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Business ideas that don’t cost the earth

ACTSmart Business Sustainability Expo
10am – 4pm
Thursday 4 September 2014
QT Canberra

Looking to make your business more sustainable? Head along to the free ACTSmart Business Sustainability Expo and learn about the latest energy and water efficiency products and services and better waste management. At the Expo you will also be able to discuss you needs with the ACTSmart team and find the right sustainable solutions for your business.

This year’s ACTSmart Business Sustainability Expo also includes a range of free seminars on key industry topics and the latest industry trends. View the seminar program External Link - opens in new window. Bookings are required as seats are limited at each seminar. To book, complete the online registration form available on the ACTSmart website External Link - opens in new window.

During the Expo, from 12:30pm – 1:30pm, a free networking function will be held. The networking function, which will be opened by ACT Minister for the Environment Simon Corbell, will provide the opportunity to share you sustainability ideas with other Canberra businesses. Attendance at the networking function is limited. To book email

To find out more about the ACTSmart Business Sustainability Expo including the seminars and networking event visit the ACTSmart website External Link - opens in new window.

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StudyCanberra Scholarship winner announced

One of Canberra's most enthusiastic advocates in the higher education sector has been announced by Chief Minister Katy Gallagher as the recipient of the inaugural StudyCanberra and Yellow Edge scholarship to China.

Luke Garner from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Canberra will travel to Shanghai at the end of next week to attend the Global Leadership Practices Program (GLPP) at the prestigious China Executive Leadership Academy Pudong (CELAP), where he will gain valuable insights in to the Australia-China strategic relationship and workings of the Chinese central government.

He will also have the opportunity to promote Canberra as a world-class destination for education and business, and will share the StudyCanberra message with potential students and businesses overseas.

"We received a number of strong applications for the scholarship but I am delighted to announce Luke as the winner," the Chief Minister said.

"Luke was able to articulate a broad vision for how he will use the scholarship for the benefit of Canberra and I have no doubt that we have chosen one of Canberra's strongest higher education advocates to highlight the opportunities our city  boasts not only in education, but in employment, business and investment."

Mr Garner's career in the education sector has spanned over 16 years and he has experience in alumni, working with industry and graduates, research, admissions, student recruitment and student services.

"I am proud to call Canberra home and I want to be an advocate for all stakeholders in the education and research industries as I believe these industries will underpin the future growth of the Canberra economy," Mr Garner said.

"Canberra's education and research industry has not reached its full potential and it will continue to attract more high quality students and research partners from Australia and around the world.

"Where Boston is considered America's centre for higher education and research, in my opinion Canberra is deserving of this reputation in Australia," Mr Garner concluded.

The ACT Government partnered with local leadership development and performance experts Yellow Edge to establish the scholarship which was open to ACT residents working in the private and not-for-profit sectors.

"The ACT Government is always pleased to align itself with local companies who are passionate about our city and who work hard to ensure Canberra is seen as a global leader in education," the Chief Minister said.

"The team at Yellow Edge have done a remarkable job on the scholarship so far and I look forward to continuing to work closely with them for the duration of the StudyCanberra program."

The scholarship to China is one of the initiatives of StudyCanberra which aims to establish Canberra as a destination of choice for domestic and international students, increase the capacity of ACT tertiary education for research and innovation and to promote the contribution of education to the ACT economy.

For more information visit the StudyCanberra website External Link - opens in new window.

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ACT students put their business skills to the test

ACT students have the opportunity to put their business skills to the test following the launch of the 2014 InnovationACT competition.

As part of the competition, participants are required to form teams and develop a business concept. The teams then take part in a 10-week educational program structured to guide teams through the development and validation of their business idea.

Completed business models will be assessed by a panel of judges from the local innovation ecosystem against criteria including how realistic and sustainable their strategy is, their stakeholder validation evidence, the capabilities of the team and their continuation plan. Up to $50,000 seed funding will be provided to the winning ideas.

The program is open to current students, staff and alumni from the Australian National University (ANU), University of Canberra, Canberra Institute of Technology, Australian Defence Force Academy, Charles Sturt University and the Academy of Interactive Entertainment.

At least 50% of the team must be students.

To find out more information visit the InnovationACT website. To keep up to date with the latest news about the InnovationACT competition, follow it on Facebook External Link - opens in new window or Twitter External Link - opens in new window.

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Upcoming Events

Upcoming events in September 2014

How to Network Workshop
Organiser: Canberra BusinessPoint
Date: Thursday 4 September 2014
Find out more about the How to Network Workshop External Link - opens in new window

ACTSmart Business Sustainability Expo
Organiser: ACT Government – ACTSmart
Date: Thursday 4 September 2014
Find out more about the ACTSmart Expo External Link - opens in new window

Free Digital Business Capacity Building Workshop
Organiser: ACT Government and Canberra Business Council
Date: Wednesday 24 September 2014
Find out more about the Digital Business Capacity Building Workshop

Canberra BusinessPoint Awards
Organiser: Canberra BusinessPoint
Date: Thursday 25 September 2014 
Find out more about the Canberra BusinessPoint awards External Link - opens in new window