ICT Centre of Excellence moves ahead

The National ICT Australia (NICTA) has won the contract to establish and operate the Federal Government's Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Centre of Excellence.

The Government said the centre will do for the ICT sector what the Australian Institute of Sport has done for sport. The centre will undertake leading-edge ICT research and projects of commercial relevance to the industry.

A consortium of six leading organisations and two key sponsors from universities, the private sector and state governments developed the NICTA proposal.

The NICTA partners will contribute $96 million in cash and kind to the centre over its first five years. The NSW and ACT Governments will contribute $20 million each. The Australian National University (ANU), the Universities of NSW and Sydney, venture capital firm Allen & Buckeridge, Redfern Photonics and Bovis Lease will also contribute.

The Commonwealth's $129.5 million contribution to the centre - part of the Government's Innovation Action Plan 'Backing Australia's Ability' - is jointly funded by the Australian Research Council and the Communications, Information Technology and the Arts portfolio.

The inaugural board will be chaired by Fujitsu Australia chair Neville Roach. Professor Brian Anderson, director of the Research School of Information Sciences and Engineering and Professor of Systems Engineering at ANU will be the interim CEO.

NICTA will establish major research training nodes in Sydney (at the Australian Technology Park) and Canberra (adjacent to ANU).

The Government said the centre will actively engage other Australian and overseas organisations and that NICTA will seek to establish collaborative research and training arrangements with other universities and research organisations.

The Government has made an in-principle commitment to continue to fund the centre beyond the initial five-year period, with the level of future funding to be determined following a review of the centre's performance.

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