The Federal Government’s innovation agenda announced by the Prime Minister and Minister Pyne is a significant policy shift that will certainly have some benefits for Canberra.
At the very least, the agenda rights many of the wrongs inflicted by the Abbott-led government that put thousands of Canberra jobs at risk over the last few years.
Canberra is fast becoming the knowledge capital of Australia. We have a vibrant tertiary education sector, with one in every nine Canberrans either working or studying in one of the many institutions based in the ACT. Every year, thousands of the brightest minds from Australia and around the world come to our city – officially one of the world’s top 20 student cities – to learn from the very best lecturers and researchers that work in Canberra. We foster a culture of collaboration and innovation that continues to harness emerging talent and new start ups.
In the ACT, we have recognised that innovation is critical to economic growth and development. That is why accelerating innovation has been at the heart of our business development strategies for several years now. Canberra has an active and successful entrepreneurial community which is going from strength to strength. Only months ago the Office of the Chief Economist of Australia reported that “on a population adjusted basis the ACT is the highest performing of all Australia’s States and Territories on both innovation and entrepreneurship”.
We are ideally placed to reap the benefits of the initiatives in the Innovation Statement. We have already established the CBR Innovation Network (CBRIN) and the programs announced in the statement will give us an opportunity to grow the network. The high performing Griffin Accelerator Program and the newly establish Kiln Incubator – both run out of CBRIN – will be able to directly benefit for funding streams to support advisors and mentors.
We have a community of private sector investors in start ups who will now be encouraged to do more with their capital in the ACT and also attract new investors. Canberra is home to big government data, so the reforms around procurement and data access have the potential for major impact in our government-to-business economy.
We are also pleased to see the additional funding provided to CSIRO and the way that it will be applied, in particular the investment fund. The CSIRO is a major employer in the ACT, and this decision provides some certainty to many Canberra families who were worried about job losses at the organisation following cuts from Liberals’ 2013-14 Budget.
There is now $1.5 billion for the National Collaborative Research and Infrastructure Scheme (NCRIS) and that is particularly important for Canberra’s science research community. The establishment of a Cyber Security Industry Growth Centre is great news and that will greatly add to the work my Government is doing to establish a pathway for the development of this important sector in Canberra.
The ACT Government recently announced the outcomes of the first round of funding under the CBR Innovation Development Fund – a $1m fund supported numerous projects increasing collaboration and innovation in the Territory. Both the ANU and the University of Canberra were successful in gaining funding for projects run at the Universities, and I was glad to see other local companies gain support through the program.
While the federal government’s plan for innovation is a step in the right direction, there is certainly more work to do in this area. This announcement fails to make up for the $3 billion cut from innovation, science and research initiatives since the 2013 election. I also hear from many Canberra residents who are frustrated by the ‘digital divide’ that is developing in our suburbs with the delayed rollout of high speed broadband.
Nonetheless our city has a head start when it comes to taking advantage of the Common wealth’s plans
Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT)