The NSW Government will introduce a $6.7 million initiative dubbed Innovate NSW, which will offer funding of up to $15,000 for around 250 businesses, as part of a wide-ranging plan to boost the state’s digital economy.
According to Andrew Stoner, NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Trade and Investment, the plan identifies seven key areas of development for government and industry.
“The action plan highlights NSW’s significant competitive advantage in digital and ICT industries, with this state the source of around 50% of Australia’s total exports of telecommunications, computer and information services,” Stoner said in a statement.
“The taskforce identified 50 actions for industry and government across seven areas.”
These include digital leadership and skills, connecting regional communities, open data innovation, growing Sydney’s digital precinct, improving finance and investment channels, and driving infrastructure productivity.
Over the next 12 months, the government will work with industry to pursue the following:
- Introduce Innovate NSW, an initiative to support “deeper collaboration”.
- Identify actions to make it easier for all businesses to bid for government goods and services procurement contracts.
- Pilot “smart work hubs” to increase opportunities for teleworking.
- Implement the government’s Open Data initiative.
- Partner with the Committee for Sydney to identify and implement initiatives to position Sydney as a global talent hub.
Innovate NSW, backed by $6.7 million in funding over four years, will aim to drive collaboration between SMEs, researchers, major corporations and consumers.
In turn, it is hoped this will lead to the development of leading-edge products and services in key industry sectors.
The program will provide financial assistance of up to $15,000 for around 250 individual firms with high growth potential for market or technology validation opportunities.
Stoner said priority will be given to key issues identified by the action plans for manufacturing, professional services, the digital economy, and international education and research.
These issues include port logistics, online education, agri-food manufacturing, and energy technology and services.
“We want the world to know NSW as the place where great ideas were born – ideas that… position Sydney and NSW as a global leader in innovation,” Stoner said.
“[Innovate NSW] will provide targeted assistance to promote collaboration between innovative SMEs and global corporate partners to bring new products and services to market.
“[It will also] open up new high growth business and export opportunities.”
Meanwhile, the industry action plan highlights funding challenges facing small businesses in NSW.
“While innovation is fundamental to the development of a strong digital economy, funding innovation is a barrier for many companies,” the report said.
“This financing gap is noticeable both in the form of new players entering the market and the contraction of established SMEs exploring new territories for products or services.
“In both circumstances, a lack of certainty about the business environment makes funding relatively more risky and often discourages banks or other funding sources.
“The lack of angel and venture capital funding results in SMEs being largely self-funded.”
The report said businesses need better access to capital to enable them to innovate, invest in key hires, establish and expand operations, increase productivity, develop new revenue streams and invest in facilities.
“If government and industry help SMEs to bridge this funding gap, they will enable better performing businesses, higher employment and a thriving culture of innovation and entrepreneurship,” it said.