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Business wants ACT to become 'digital city'

Date

John Thistleton

The ACT government wants to broaden the city's brand beyond tourism and focus on knowledge and business innovation to expand the local economy.

The Economic Development Directorate says branding is focussed largely on tourism and while the current ''See Yourself in Canberra'' tourism message has been effective, it needs an overhaul.

Canberra Business Council chairman and founder of a multinational software company, Brand Hoff, said unless Canberra united its top researchers and educators, it would go backwards in the carbon-free information age

Mr Hoff's comment is in the Business Council's submission proposing a $16 million joint venture between the private sector with the government over five years to establish a ''digital city'' innovation scheme to create products like smart water meters, online queue views and traffic congestion warnings that would improve living standards in Canberra and be exported elsewhere in Australia and overseas.

Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr launched a business development strategy yesterday which adopts one of the Digital City's ideas, of prizes to businesses to commercialise their ideas.

Mr Barr also announced cutting payroll tax, a doubling to $100,000 for small information technology companies competing with multinationals and an extra $500,000 to a business development fund which it runs in partnership with the Hindmarsh Group, to provide venture capital. Business Council chief executive Chris Faulks said the territory had not yet taken full advantage of a significant competitive edge of being the national capital and seat of federal government, which had by far the largest pockets for procurement anywhere in Australia.

Ms Faulks said the ACT government's latest business strategy showed leadership, but the council wanted to see the money and commitment for programs like Digital City in the ACT budget on June 5, to exploit Canberra's world-class research and learning institutions.

''We have not really joined the dots between those and said, 'OK, with all of that fantastic research happening here how can we take those ideas and commercialise them to build industry capability and export that to the rest of the world'.''

It was of little use branding Canberra without having smart innovations, such as cashless meters, to show the city functioning as a great place for business.

General manager of Canberra software company Intelledox, Michelle Melbourne, said doubling funding for collaboration among small and large information technology companies would help home-grown firms become suppliers in larger projects.

''The CollabIT program helps growing ACT companies to strengthen their profile and experience working in partnership with multinationals such as CSC, Microsoft, Lockheed Martin and CapGemini,'' she said.

8 comments so far

  • A different day; a different initiative that will never see the light of reality.

    Must be an election soon!

    Commenter
    Outraged of Palmerston
    Date and time
    May 01, 2012, 8:30AM
    • 'the carbon-free information age' sounds like the type of phrase I would expect to be coined in Canberra.

      Commenter
      Irene
      Date and time
      May 01, 2012, 8:38AM
      • Good to hear.

        Let's get our capital away from evermore/unsustainable housing overdevelopment/sprawl.

        Commenter
        Australia's sustainable choice
        Date and time
        May 01, 2012, 9:16AM
        • I have a good idea for the ACT government.

          How about fixing Transact and grapevine first before coming up with any more dopey ideas.

          Commenter
          Sharron
          Location
          Canberra
          Date and time
          May 01, 2012, 9:21AM
          • A city addicted to proprietary software, run by Apple loving bureaucrats.

            Sure you'll get your odd Simmersion, but this is not an environment conducive to IT development. In terms of outcomes, Canberrans collectively display a very low level of digital literacy.

            Commenter
            Me
            Date and time
            May 01, 2012, 10:18AM
            • This is a great initiative. Canberra needs to stop relying on the Federal Government as our primary employer.
              A digital city/economy initiative is long overdue and I for one support it.

              Commenter
              The Bard
              Date and time
              May 01, 2012, 11:18AM
              • In terms of the tourism message, I think Canberra needs to take a different approach. The reality is Canberra still gets a bad wrap, so I think we need to stop trying to get people to visit 'Canberra' and focus on getting people to visit our amazing attractions. Once they get here, for whatever reason, they will realise it's a fun and beautiful place to visit. Let's invest the time and money in helping our attractions, national or local, to attract visitors, to put on great events and if necessary, on marketing campaigns that are less about Canberra and more about attractions that are worthwhile visiting in the Capital.

                Commenter
                New girl in the Capital
                Location
                Canberra
                Date and time
                May 01, 2012, 1:44PM
                • how about this for an idea - drop all sales tax, turn Canberra into a duty free state, open up the casino(s), build a conference centre, and also get some more family freindly tourist parks and theme parks happening.

                  then market canberra as a family friendly, conference friendly place that has sales tax exempt on all purchases.

                  it gets more tourists, will trigger an increase in business income via increased tourist expenditure etc.

                  do something unique.

                  Commenter
                  gg
                  Date and time
                  May 02, 2012, 9:03AM

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