Page 684 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 17 March 2015

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We have often characterised Mr Barr and his government as spending like drunken sailors. However, reflecting on that through the years, the government are not drunken sailors. Sailors at least serve their country. In this context, they spend their own money; but not this government. As we have said before, there is nothing really new in this. It is just rebadged; it is just renamed. It is just the same old tired government that is not doing enough to support business in the ACT.

MS FITZHARRIS (Molonglo) (10.43): As the Chief Minister stated earlier, “Growth, diversification and jobs: a business development strategy for the ACT” has successfully implemented all 26 actions set out in the strategy. The strategy is an articulation of this government’s economic priorities of innovation, urban renewal and embracing our digital future in our private and community sectors. But, above all, it is about jobs—a key priority for this government.

I would like to talk about some of the achievements that are a direct outcome of the business development strategy, starting with the GRIFFIN accelerator program. This program, as mentioned earlier by the Chief Minister, is funded by mentors and investors who are prepared to support and work with selected companies. These mentors between them contributed $175,000 to a trust fund to invest in selected companies.

The first program focused on products and scalable services where government was the end customer. Following a rigorous selection process, with over 40 applicants and due diligence carried out on seven companies, five were selected to participate in the program. Each company received a $25,000 investment from the trust fund in return for 10 per cent equity in the company. The companies undertook an intensive three-month program with a dedicated mentor to prepare them for growth and further investment.

The beauty of this model is that the mentors have a strong interest in ensuring that the company is successful because it is their money that is on the line. Of the five companies selected for the accelerator program in 2014, three had been Innovation Connect grant recipients: Enabled Employment, Made for Me and Quizling. Following completion of the program, all five companies received investment offers from investors in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Enabled Employment, which connects experienced and capable people with a disability to employment opportunities, has over 1,000 employees and 60 employers on its books. It is rapidly turning these connections into filled positions for people with a disability—an outstanding social achievement.

Made for Me and Quizling were selected from over 400 companies to present to the Sydney Angels group in November. Quizling has further developed its smart quiz product and is putting this into schools and high profile museums to enhance learning and engagement. Made for Me has established Australia’s biggest network of 3D printers and is in talks with a lead investor. These three companies are close to finalising investment deals totalling around $1 million. Symberra and Snapknock have both further developed their product and are making excellent progress. Overall, this

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