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Federal budget 2013: Tech hub NICTA scrapped as new cash flows to NBN projects

Tuesday, 14 May 2013 | By Oliver Milman

The government has pledged $12.9 million in new funding to help small businesses take advantage of the National Broadband Network, although the ICT Centre of Excellence will be scrapped.


The Digital Enterprise program has been handed $7.2 million in the budget to aid SMEs that want to take advantage of the burgeoning online economy over the next three years.


The move will extend the geographical area of the Digital Enterprise scheme to an additional 20 regional sites, adding to the existing 40 areas that have already benefited from the initiative.


Meanwhile, $5.7 million has been allocated to local councils to help provide better services to businesses. Councils can receive up to $375,000 under the scheme.


However, tech start-ups have been dealt a retrograde step with the scrapping of the NICTA initiative.


The ICT Centre of Excellence Program, which oversees NICTA, a tech hub in Sydney, will see its funding shrink from $22.5 million to $21.4 million next year, before being phased out entirely.


NICTA is tasked with helping foster cutting-edge ICT enterprises by helping them commercialise their ideas.


Unsurprisingly, Stephen Conroy, the Communications Minister, was keen to focus on the new money for NBN projects rather than the demise of NICTA.


“The NBN is being rolled out to all Australians so it is essential that all of us develop the skills and understand how we can best take advantage of the fast, reliable and affordable broadband it delivers.”