The Federal Government has committed $20 million to the Tasmanian ICT Centre, forming part of a $50 commitment that will ensure the centre’s survival for five years and introduce further research into broadband-based applications.
The government funding, announced in Tasmania by the innovation minister, Senator Kim Carr, was secured by independent federal MP Andrew Wilkie after negotiations with the Prime Minister earlier this year.
It will be met by an equal contribution from the CSIRO, as well as $5 million each from the Tasmanian Government and industry to make up the full $50 million required to sustain the centre over another five years.
The Hobart-based centre was established in 2006 by the CSIRO with a cohort of 30 researchers in order to help make the ICT industry in Tasmania more viable, and is currently responsible for some $10 million in revenue for the state.
Though partially funded by the Federal Government and the research organisation from the beginning, it was in “strife” according to Wilkie, prompting them to approach the MP following the Federal election last year.
Announcing the funding, Senator Carr said key objectives of the new funding for the centre would be driven toward energy use, ocean protection schemes and water resources management.
The funding will also be used to establish a node of the Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation (ACBI), first launched between the CSIRO and National ICT Australia last year to co-develop applications utilising high-speed broadband and particularly the National Broadband Network.
The $5 million funding from the Tasmanian Government indicated a significant investment in what Wilkie called difficult federal and state budgetary environments. The government slashed many of the ICT programs first announced in last year’s budget as part of its half-yearly financial review, in an attempt to fill a budgetary deficit.
“Tasmania’s future lies in innovation and technologies that will help to bridge the gap between our small island state and the rest of the world,” state Premier, Lara Giddings, said in a statement.
“The TasICT Centre is playing a key role in identifying those future opportunities.”
State innovation minister, David O’Byrne, said the research would complement future directions dictated by the Digital Futures Advisory Council, which has been contemplating the use of $1 million toward Tasmanian ICT development.
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