STUART KENNEDY
April 4, 2017

Qld ramps tech industry policy

Research

Qld ramps tech industry policy

Leeanne Enoch: Queenland ramps up competition for capital and talent with state rivals

Cyclone Debbie may have washed out part of Brisbane’s Myriad Festival innovation parade, but Queensland has bolstered its relationship with CSIRO business unit Data61 as it looks to snatch back a share of the new economy goodness enjoyed by NSW and Victoria.

The Myriad event was set down as a three-day technology and innovation festival at the Brisbane Powerhouse in New Farm, opening last Wednesday evening and with the guts of the festival over the following two days.

“The Myriad Festival will showcase Queensland’s startups and CSIRO, and will provide opportunities to meet with international and local investors. Queensland will be a mecca for tech entrepreneurs, innovators and investors,” said Queensland Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy, Leeanne Enoch said prior to the event.

“The world is searching for the next brilliant person or project to invest in, and we’re bringing investors to Queensland to find them,” she said.

Then came the devastation of Cyclone Debbie which led to the Myriad Festival being shut down from 12.00 pm on Thursday following advice from police.

Some presentations and talks planned for Thursday were delivered on Friday and a Queensland government spokesperson said many informal discussions were held between attendees and speakers. Planning for next year’s event is already underway.

Meanwhile, Data61, the NICTA successor that now resides within CSIRO, has enlarged its Queensland presence by becoming an anchor tenant in the state’s new Startup Precinct in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley.

The old NICTA had a number of projects going in Queensland, but the previous Coalition government under then Premier Campbell Newman chopped state funding in 2012, leading to the demise of some of those projects. The then conservative Victorian government also slashed its NICTA funding.

But Queensland’s Palaszczuk Labor government, facing a surging One Nation party threat at the next election and in the backfield economically among Australia’s states and territories (Queensland ranked sixth for economic growth in the January 2017 Commsec State of the States report) obviously wants to lift the state’s appeal as a destination for innovation capital and jobs.

Ms Palaszczuk also wants a deep gaze into where Queensland is heading, as well as analytics smarts for Queensland government agencies and businesses, which is where the Data61 relationship comes in.

The relationship is underpinned by $16.7 million in cash and in-kind funding over three years from both the Queensland government and CSIRO/Data61.

According to the Queensland government, Data61 will contribute $10.02 million with Queensland stumping up $6.73 million.

The funding will support seven independent projects under a Strategic Partnership Agreement. A steering committee made up of representatives from both Data61 and the Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation will meet next week to decide on the direction of the projects.

The Data61 tent in the Brisbane Startup Precinct will house a Functional Programming Open Lab with 10 software engineers that will feed coding smarts to an intriguing creation called the Foresight Unit under Dr Stefan Hajkowicz.

Between the lab and Foresight, Data61 said it will move between 20 -25 full time equivalent positions into the Startup Precinct tenancy beginning in June this year.

Data61 said Brisbane is regarded as the capital of functional programming in Australia. “This is because of a combination of strong academic work in the Queensland universities and Brisbane being the birthplace of the Australian conference Yow! LambdaJam, a technical programmer conference specialised on practical functional programming in industry,” the CSIRO unit said.

According to Ms Enoch, the Foresight unit will help out with policy smarts and long term trend analysis.

“(It will) provide a dedicated foresighting capability for the Queensland Government, enabling the state to use analysis of long-term megatrends and data to inform policy decisions,” she said in a statement.

The unit and programming lab also appear to be open to use by private enterprise.

“Data can fuel new industries, businesses and importantly help to create new jobs. The insights possible from big data can change the way we live, work and innovate,” Ms Enoch said.

“This partnership with Data61 will allow government, industry and businesses to access CSIRO Data61’s expertise in turning complex data into knowledge and using these insights to help create new approaches to service delivery and solve real problems every day.”

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