Qld govt unveils IT strategy

Queensland yesterday launched a five-year IT&T strategy which will pour fresh funds into research and development, a supercomputer centre and incubator facilities for innovative startups.

Training programs and skills development in niche areas such as multimedia visualisation and electronic games also featured strongly in the communication and information strategic plan.

With the State Budget not due for another two weeks, Communications and Information Minister Terry Mackenroth foreshadowed a loosening of purse strings to fund the new blueprint.

He promised a $1 million injection this year for the Queensland cooperative research centre DSTC. The investment will more than double the number of researchers at the centre which is arguably Queensland's premier success story in the IT&T research arena.

Funds will also be set aside for a high performance computing centre to support activities such as computer-aided drug design and other biotechnology opportunities.

The budget will include money to establish incubator facilities for start-up enterprises, Mackenroth pledged. He warned the government will not get into a pick-the-winner game but will channel the money into generic infrastructure facilities.

It expects private sector players to pick the most promising prospects and back them with the necessary venture capital.

The strategy document, under construction for the last year with heavy industry input, made all the right noises about the internet and e-commerce.

They included an all-of-government intranet, plus pledges to foster electronic delivery of government services, promote electronic procurement in the public sector and push e-commerce in general.

Strong emphasis was placed on extra support for IT training and skills development programs. Scholarships will be established in peak skill areas, 200 IT traineeships will be made available across the public sector and programs will be launched to encourage high school students to follow IT&T careers.

Part of the strategy is directed at building Queensland's communications and information sector. But it is also structured to fulfill the government's larger objectives of attracting investment, creating jobs and providing 21st Century work skills.

Coinciding with the plan's launch, Mackenroth has made sweeping changes to the key senior managers overseeing its implementation.

Chief among the new faces is Queensland communications consultant Michael Cook who has been appointed general manager of the communications and information division.

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