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Wednesday, 07 August 2013 14:52

ICT research receives massive $42 million boost Featured

Senator Kate Lundy Senator Kate Lundy

Australia's ICT research is receiving a major shot in the arm ahead of the election, with the government today announcing an additional $42 million in funding.

National Information and Communications Technology Australia (NICTA) will receive an additional $42 million in 2015-16 in an effort to support Australia’s digital economy and help continue Australia’s economic strength beyond the mining boom, according to the government.

The Minister Assisting for the Digital Economy, Senator Kate Lundy, announced the additional $42 million in funding at a visit to the research centre’s headquarters in Sydney today.

“NICTA is a world-class information and communication technology research and commercialisation facility. It connects research excellence to practical real life challenges faced by industry, government and society, driving efficiency and productivity growth,” she said.

The Minister said the new funding brings the total Rudd Labor Government investment in NICTA to $130 million over the next three years, and funding for the contribution is already included in the Budget.

Technology is already a major issue with voters ahead of the 7 September election, with competing NBN plans from major parties a key point of difference, while the government has come under criticism over recent months for removing funding for higher education.

“With over 580 researchers, technical and professional staff, 260 PhD students working across 30 research projects, training and commercialisation activities and partnerships with 17 universities, NICTA brings both scale and depth to Australia’s ICT research," the Senator said.

“Investing in skills, innovation, and research is essential for Australia to remain productive and competitive and to ensure economic growth into the future.

“This funding will enable NICTA to continue its world-class research, develop globally competitive ICT products, build innovative Australian ICT companies and continue its PhD program. It will also support Australian jobs by broadening the skills base.

“The Rudd Labor Government’s investment in NICTA is complemented by our investment in the National Broadband Network. Australia’s economic future lies in the application of technology that is enabled by the NBN’s fast, affordable and universal broadband.

“Across every industry sector, including business, education, health, agriculture, and manufacturing, the NBN is essential infrastructure.

“As the roll-out of the National Broadband Network continues, the benefits and opportunities from NICTA’s work will only increase,” Senator Lundy said.

The Shadow Minister for the Digital Economy, Malcom Turnbul, has been contacted for comment.

The news follows an announcement from NICTA last month that a team of between 15 and 20 computer scientists and engineers will work at the new NICTA laboratory at Monash University's Caulfield campus with the goal of enabling non-experts to use optimisation tools.

Some of the research centre's major achievements since 2002 include the Bionic Eye, and a smart maintenance system which continuously monitors the Sydney Harbour Bridge’s structural integrity for any weaknesses.

More information on NICTA can be found at the ARC website here.

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