Page 961 - Week 03 - Thursday, 10 April 2014

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government initiatives and announcements that will boost innovation in the ACT, particularly in terms of promoting Canberra as a digital city.

MR BARR: Yesterday I announced that the government will establish the Canberra innovation network, which will be a not-for-profit body to work with all stakeholders to accelerate the rate of innovation in the territory. Boosting innovation is one of the three key priorities in the government’s 2012 business development strategy.

Yesterday’s announcement follows on from a workshop in February attended by over 30 key stakeholders in the ACT’s innovation ecosystem that recommended a new approach to growing innovative businesses. This was not because the old model was not working, but because the workshop saw areas where even closer cooperation between research institutions, the business community and government could result in even better outcomes.

The key features of the new network are as follows. It will have a remit to deliver services, programs and support to a wide cross-section of growth-oriented companies and entrepreneurs. It will have a physical location and it will also have a charter of outreach that establishes multiple delivery points and partner delivery arrangements. It will be managed by the stakeholders under a governance structure shaped and agreed by the stakeholders. Potential stakeholders include the ANU, CSIRO, NICTA and the University of Canberra, amongst others. Further discussions will be held with a range of other potential stakeholders. It will be structured to ensure that smaller players are able to play a role in the direction of the network. It will be managed by a board under an experienced and independent chair. The ACT government will have representation on the management body.

The new network will be contracted by the ACT government 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, amongst many other services.

The network will also be made accessible to companies across all sectors, not just companies spun out of research institutions or ICT companies.

While the key aim of the network is to support innovative and potential high-growth businesses, I am keen to ensure that the innovation network services all businesses in the territory. To achieve this, the intellectual property associated with Canberra BusinessPoint, including the primary website, will be made available to the network as part of the ongoing offering to start-up businesses. This will be linked to a wide range of existing services, supported by email and telephone services.

The Canberra BusinessPoint brand is likely to continue and be used by the network to describe its services for all start-up businesses. The network will reach out to entrepreneurs and innovative companies wherever they are located in the ACT. An illustration of this will be the relationship between the innovation network and the proposed digital hub. Located in Garema Place, the hub will include a co-working space and public access point supporting the digital Canberra action plan. It will be a focal point for digital government and for the digital economy and builds on the establishment of the Garema Place digital space.

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