Page 513 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 15 February 2017

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A core aspect of that strategy is to work in partnership with Canberra’s institutions to promote our education credentials and build student numbers. The ACT government, through study Canberra, has helped deliver a more welcoming and community-focused experience for all students, and the value of this should not be underestimated. The vice-chancellor of the ANU, Professor Brian Schmidt, recently remarked on the importance of a welcoming community in building an international university, and that giving international students “a feeling of welcoming is one of the things ACT government does really well.”

However, the importance of this sector is not just about student numbers. It is also about the quality of our institutions and their staff. The ANU has recently been ranked seventh in a list of the 200 most international universities of 2017 by the Times Higher Education, reinforcing that Canberra is a centre for a premium, world-class higher education experience. As well as our universities, the ACT also has an excellent VET sector and an award winning public provider, the Canberra Institute of Technology. This government has committed to providing a minimum of 70 per cent of total ACT government funding for VET directly to CIT in order to guarantee its place as the ACT's premier VET provider into the future.

But we are also thinking bigger than just direct education. We have also worked closely with our higher education and research institutions to identify capability areas which offer opportunities to grow and diversify Canberra’s economy. These include the national agriculture and environmental sciences precinct at ANU and CSIRO, the ICT and e-government cluster work led by Data61, the cyber security innovation cluster led by UNSW Canberra, the ACT space innovation cluster led by ANU and UNSW Canberra, and the sports technology cluster and the health innovation cluster both led by the University of Canberra.

To explain the potential for Canberra’s economy and how this government is committed to supporting their development, I will give a couple of examples from the ACT space innovation cluster. The ANU, which is a partner in the giant Magellan telescope project, has invested $30 million in the Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre at Mount Stromlo. That investment alone is an exciting addition to Canberra, but in the context of the wider sector that number is just a fraction of our potential.

The space industry is currently worth $314 billion per annum and is growing rapidly. In support of the sector, the ACT government has committed funding for two space-related projects, one for UNSW Canberra to develop a space mission design facility and a joint ANU-UNSW Canberra project to develop space-based quantum cryptography. These projects cement Canberra’s leadership in the space and security sectors and are aimed squarely at the $17 billion that the defence white paper allocated for the development of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, space, electronic warfare and cyber security sovereign capabilities.

In collaboration with the CBR Innovation Network, we have also established the Canberra cyber network, provided $1.25 million per year to Data61 to lead the development of the cyber industry in Canberra, and we are working closely with our defence industry advocate to coordinate our response to the defence white paper.

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