Monday, 27 February 2006 18:59

QLD Government gets behind ICT

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The Queensland Government has indicated that it intends to make ICT a major focus after sponsoring a major forum for the ICT industry on the Sunshine Coast this week.

Information Technology Policy Minister Chris Cummins, addressing the Media Connect Kickstart Forum, attended by technology journalists from Australia and New Zealand and 40 ICT companies and industry associations, said Queensland is now a serious player in the global ICT scene, which housed some of Australia's largest ICT companies.

"We have established Australia's first organisation dedicated to developing the local ICT sector.

"Since 1992, the Information Industries Bureau (IIB) has been servicing the State's ICT industry by creating supportive industry development policy initiatives, programs, seminars and events.

"In that time Queensland ICT has grown from a group of small innovative firms and entrepreneurs to a vibrant and dynamic industry leader in the Asia-Pacific region.

"We've also initiated an unprecedented level of collaboration with the ICT industry to address barriers to growth including skills shortages and government procurement."

A 2005 industry survey found the State's ICT industry now employs more than 62,000 Queenslanders. In addition, the industry generated estimated revenues of $21.1 billion dollars in sales in 2003-2004.

"We now have many big names in the global ICT industry located in Queensland but a defining characteristic of our ICT sector is the predominance of small businesses," Mr Cummins said.

"Research shows that 84 per cent of the State's ICT firms have fewer than five employees - so the Beattie Government has developed initiatives to meet the needs of small, innovative businesses.

"The four-year, $18.5 million Smart ICT: Taking it to the World strategy was launched in December 2004 with initiatives to support the ICT industry in Queensland and transform other industries with ICT solutions.

"Under the strategy, the Building Productivity Program promotes the uptake of ICT products and services by Queensland's non-ICT industries."

Mr Cummins said many successful Queensland ICT companies operated in niche markets such as e-security, e-health, wireless, multi-media, electronic games development and content management.

"The Beattie Government has helped facilitate cluster groups in some of these areas that are working together to leverage off each other and create a base for infiltrating markets," he said. "It's about collaboration, not competition.

"One of the most recently established is the Dot Net cluster which currently includes more than 70 organisations. There are 375 known Dot Net projects in Queensland with an estimated total value of more than $75 million."

Mr Cummins said the new Fast-Tracking Growth Program, launched in December 2005, was designed to help high-growth, small to medium-sized, Queensland-based ICT firms overcome barriers to expansion,

"The program is designed to increase ICT employment, investment and exports," he said.

"The International Trade Show Assistance Program (ITSAP) was set up in 2000 to help ICT and biotech companies expand their export opportunities by participating in international trade missions, trade shows or conferences.

Under ITSAP, this government provides ICT and biotech companies with grants of up to $5,000 towards the cost of exhibiting at an international trade show or participating in a trade mission.

"So far ITSAP has helped 122 Queensland businesses generate immediate export sales of more than $5.3M."

Mr Cummins said the i.lab Incubator, established at Toowong in 2000 was helping early-stage technology companies get off the ground.

"Since i.lab's inception, member companies have created more than 233 jobs and during 2004/05 members raised more than $16 million in capital," he said.


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Stan Beer

 

Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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