The Victorian Government – which invests approximately $1.5 billion into its ICT capability each year – intends to use its substantial annual expenditure to stimulate innovation and to grow the State’s ICT industry.
The $110 million Victorian ICT Action Plan was launched by Technology Minister John Lenders on October 13, and outlines the State’s strategy to position itself as the nation’s ICT hub.
“Through its own operations and activities, the Victorian Government can demonstrate innovative, leading use of ICT and help drive the development of new ICT services and applications,” the document explains.
The range of initiatives includes industry programs and competitions to drive innovation as well as a commitment to updating ICT procurement arrangements.
One phase of the plan involves the injection of $14 million into the second round of the Smart SMEs Market Validation Program. The scheme awards small to medium enterprises initial grants of up to $100,000 to conduct feasibility studies into ICT solutions which meet the needs of public sector – with the possibility of further funding of up to $1.5 million to undertake R&D to proof of concept stage.
Geelong-based company FE Technologies successfully obtained both first and second stage grants allowing it to investigate ways of coordinating traffic coming to and from Mount Buller ski resorts using a radio-frequency identification (RFID) system to read and transmit vehicle information.
The Action Plan also outlines the Government’s intentions to repeat the App My State competition in 2011. The previous competition gave out $100,000 in prizes for application designers who could demonstrate the most useful and innovative re-uses of government data sets. The contest was also aligned to public service Hack Day events, which are also likely to be re-run, as another means of fostering the innovative re-use of public sector data.
The Government has also committed to refreshing its eServices panel arrangements. The panel is expected to make it easier and more efficient to engage ICT suppliers and is designed to reward high standards of service within the industry.
The use of Government ICT funding to foster innovation forms just one of six key elements of the Action Plan. Other segments of the plan involve funding various research and development initiatives throughout the state, including:
- Creation of 160 new positions within the National ICT Australia Victoria Research Library (NICTA VRA);
- $20 million for regional broadband links;
- $4.1 million for a new Online Media and Digital Publishing Strategy; and
- various other industry-based programs.
The plan aims to create 800 new ICT jobs in the state each year and maintain Victoria’s standing as the state making the largest investment into ICT R&D as a proportion of Gross State Product.