Tasmania invests $93mil to boost innovation

State Government grants rely on continuation of the National Broadband Network

The Tasmanian Coalition Government will spend more than $93 million in boosting the state’s capability for innovation by capitalising on smart grid technology and the National Broadband Network (NBN).

The Tasmania’s Innovation Strategy report, released this week identifies $83.79 million in funding and $30 million in loan funding provided over five years to key state industries including tourism, science and research, agriculture, aquaculture, renewable energy and information technology with the goal of “lifting participation and productivity rates” in the state, in turn boosting the state’s economy and innovation credentials.

Of the funding, $56 million will be provide as part of a public-private partnership to be invested in smart grids and renewable energy development on islands in the Bass Strait. The State Government will commission a study on the possibility of deploying a second high-voltage DC cable across the Bass Strait, and will encourage innovation in the renewable energy industry by establishing a Renewable Energy Loan Fund worth $30 million over four years.

A further $5.85 million will be spent on the state’s digital economy over two years, with a key focus on educating about and establishing business opportunities under the National Broadband Network and encourage Government 2.0-style communication with the public.

Up to $3.6 million will be used to set up a Digital Futures Capital Fund, designed to encourage further digital content, applications and services.

The State Government will also look to develop a Digital Economy Industry Strategy.

“Emerging from the GFC like the rest of Australia and the world, what Tasmania must do now is prepare for the decade ahead,” State Premier, David Bartlett, wrote in the report. “In this Tasmania faces both challenges and opportunities... Lifting our participation and productivity rates will be crucial to continuing the growth in our prosperity and innovation is the key enabler to achieving these outcomes.

“Tasmania is leading the implementation of the Australian Government’s National Broadband Network roll-out, enabling innovation in education, health, tourism and other industries. In this way Tasmania will lead the country in connecting to the global digital economy. The Innovation Strategy is designed to make sure we make the most of this opportunity.”

Much of the innovation strategy’s digital economy section is predicated on the continuation of the NBN, which may be cancelled should the Liberal party convince the gang of three independent MPs to form a minority government.

Bartlett told <i>Computerworld Australia</i> prior to the Federal election that a "a vote for the Liberals is a vote to send Tasmania back to the dark ages of telecommunications”, focusing on the importance of the NBN is sustaining the state’s attempts to distance itself from Telstra and promote a competitive telecommunications environment while maintaining employment. Should the NBN continue - either under a Labor-led minority Federal government or if the Liberal party changes its policy - 200,000 of the state’s premises will be connected by fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) technology at minimum speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps). The remainder of the population in more regional areas will receive minimum speeds of 12Mbps over fixed wireless or satellite.

“Already, this co-operative government has created 1200 new Tasmanian jobs, by offering certainty and stability to our community and industries,” Bartlett said in a statement.

The Tasmanian Government’s appeal towards Government 2.0 principles could also form a major part of its attempts to incentivise the mobile apps industry, as it would make government data freely accessible and malleable for reorganisation and redistribution by developers. A recent trip to the US saw the Premier meet with several developers including Disney’s mobile division in hopes of establishing ties for mentor or government grant programs.

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Tags tasmaniaNational Broadband Network (NBN)Tasmanian governmentPremier David Bartlett

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