Four-year $20 million investment in supporting Canberra businesses

Released 25/07/2017

More than $20 million will be allocated in this week's Budget to support Growth, Diversification and Jobs, the ACT Government's business development strategy, which will help guide Canberra's future growth and diversify our economy.

There is no doubt that our economy is the envy of many states and regions across Australia, with low unemployment and a Triple-A credit rating, but it is imperative that we continue to encourage growth and diversification, and this new strategy is squarely aimed at doing precisely that.

In order to create the environment necessary to strengthen and broaden our economy, this strategy will foster the right business environment, support business investment and accelerate business innovation.

Although the Commonwealth will continue to play a crucial role in our economy, it is vital that our policies continue to encourage the private sector to expand, providing broader employment opportunities and strengthening our economic base.

Canberra already has many advantages including leading education, research and cultural institutions, a highly skilled and educated workforce, a connected and collaborative business community, a supportive government, and is the hub for a dynamic and growing region.

The Strategy leverages off these advantages to build for the future and create a thriving knowledge-based economy.

Some of the programs being funded in this year's budget include:

  • NICTA, Australia's information and communication technology research centre for excellence, $12 million in grants and payroll tax waivers over four years;
  • Branding of Canberra, marketing to the outside world the business opportunities that Canberra offers, $2.6 million over two years;
  • The Canberra Business Development Fund, providing innovative ACT firms with a source of capital funds through equity investment, $500,000;
  • The Infrastructure Fund, to support the development of major proposals focused on new innovation infrastructure, $600,000 over two years;
  • ScreenACT, whose vision is to make Canberra and the surrounding region a centre of creative excellence for film, TV and digital media, $855,000 over three years;
  • Investment Facilitation. A dedicated investment facilitation function will bring together capabilities across key government agencies to respond quickly to investment leads, an additional $985,000 over four years to boost total dedicated resourcing to around $500,000 per annum;
  • The Red Tape Reduction Taskforce. This will be an expert panel to investigate regulatory impediments to doing business in Canberra and establish a Government Navigator Program to build SME compliance capability, $360,000 over two years;
  • Clean Tech, a new funding stream under Innovation Connect for clean technology or sustainability oriented companies, $600,000 over four years;
  • The My Digital City innovation prize. This will encourage tertiary students and Canberra citizens to engage in developing new digital government services, $300,000 over three years;
  • CollabIT, linking small and medium enterprises with multi-national corporations, purchasers and other ICT stakeholders, $400,000 over four years;
  • Innovation Connect, a competitive grants program providing funding for small technology focused companies and entrepreneurs, an additional $830,000 over four years ;
  • A social media 'Buy Local' campaign, encouraging consumers to support local businesses, $20,000 over two years; and
  • An ACT technology incubator feasibility study, which will investigate best practice models for a business incubator, $50,000.

Other programs announced in Growth, Diversification and Jobs that will be delivered from existing agency resources include:

  • Indigenous Business Development, establishing a targeted program of support for indigenous enterprise development, $150,000 over four years;
  • An Online Skilled Migration Processing System. We will fund the implementation phase of a project to streamline current assessment and approval processes for various skilled visas to replace the existing paper based system, $260,000 over four years;
  • Redevelopment of the Business Development Portal, to redevelop the existing website on a Web 2.0 platform, $50,000; and
  • Listening to Small Business, an annual dialogue between small and micro businesses to better understand their issues and opportunities, $30,000 over two years.

The Business Development Strategy lays the groundwork for a dynamic, innovative and diverse ACT economy. This strategy adds to an existing suite of business program support delivered through major initiatives such as Canberra BusinessPoint, the Lighthouse Commercialisation and Innovation Centre and the various components of the Innovation Connect and Trade Connect programs.


- Statement ends -

Section: Andrew Barr, MLA | Media Releases

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