Page 155 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 11 February 2015

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MS FITZHARRIS: My question is to the Chief Minister and Minister for Economic Development. Chief Minister, can you update the Assembly on the government’s strategy to promote innovation and economic renewal in the ACT?

MR BARR: I thank Ms Fitzharris for her first question to me in this chamber. In today’s tough global and national economic environment, innovation is essential for Canberra businesses to grow. We on this side of the chamber are very focused on the process of innovation and business renewal. We think that Canberra businesses, given the right tools and support from government, can compete with anyone. This government’s 2012 “Growth, diversification and jobs: a business development strategy for the ACT” set out a comprehensive plan to grow the territory economy.

The past three years have seen a concerted effort by every member of this government, with actions under the strategy all fully implemented. Importantly, though, this strategy is a living document and we have very successfully tailored approaches to business development in areas such as digital capability building, access to government, procurement reform, and supporting our tertiary and research sector.

Business innovation has been a standout area, thanks to policy being built around consultation with business and, importantly, very strong partnerships with representative organisations. I think that the most significant development is the establishment of the CBR Innovation Network, closely followed by the establishment of Invest Canberra—two targeted, strategic initiatives that focus our efforts on maximising our strengths and our abilities in research, innovation and collaboration, and also in attracting new investment.

The CBR Innovation Network was formally launched in November of last year. The network links government and the business community directly with five major research institutions through which we can continue to diversify the economy, develop emerging enterprises, support export capabilities and grow local employment opportunities.

A year earlier, in December 2013, I launched Invest Canberra, a body whose primary goals are to attract new investment and generate economic growth by capturing new technologies, skills, capabilities and products as well as investment capital to build strong and competitive industry sectors in the territory. Invest Canberra also provides a partnered approach for government agencies that are leading major infrastructure projects, resulting in a one-government approach to joining our economic, environmental and social policy objectives.

In addition to these primary initiatives, the government has, of course, implemented a wide range of actions to foster the right business environment to support investment and to accelerate innovation. The Digital Canberra Challenge engages ACT innovators and small and medium size enterprises in the development of new and enhanced digital solutions aimed at improving government services and operations.

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