Tasmania incentivises mobile apps industry

Cash grants or tax concessions on the radar as Tasmania looks to grow state-based digital economy

The Tasmanian State Government is looking to grow its burgeoning mobile applications industry, with plans to provide financial incentives in the near future.

According to State Premier, David Bartlett, the incentives could come in the form of grants or tax concessions targeted at encouraging international and local development of the industry, including mentoring and networking with larger companies.

Bartlett recently returned from a nine day, $100,000 trip to the US in which he met with the US Government as well as several large US companies including Cisco, Google and Microsoft.

The Premier met with executives of Meebo, a social network aggregator which plans to port its web application to mobile with the help of Tasmanian developers. The company is looking to expand access to development skills in Tasmania, according to Bartlett.

He also met with Tapulous co-founder, Andrew Lacy, who recently became co-lead of the Walt Disney Company's mobile gaming portfolio after the company acquired Tapulous and its lucrative Tap Tap line of mobile games.

Bartlett told Computerworld Australia that Lacy was interested in developing a mentoring strategy for Tasmanian start-ups and helping them to get off the ground.

"[Mobile apps] is a small industry that's got potential growth," Bartlett said. "It's the sort of thing that can grow rapidly."

Should Bartlett follow through, Tasmania would become one of three Australian states to actively support the software and games development industries. Queensland has traditionally been known as a hotspot for video games development locally, while the Victorian Government actively promotes investment in the industry while providing additional tax incentives. The State Government recently launched a serviced office space specifically for games developers.

The local industry as a whole is anticipating the passing of research and development tax reforms through Federal Parliament, which would see a 45 per cent tax concession made available to developers.

Bartlett's US trip is indicative of the state's intention to gain global recognition and possibly investment for renewable energy and National Broadband Network (NBN) achievements. However, the Premier has said the state's economy could be heading for a disaster should the Opposition follow through on election promises to scrap the NBN if it wins Government on 21 August.

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