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$308 million investment in ICT for our future.



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MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND THE ARTS THE HON DARYL WILLIAMS AM QC MP

NEWS RELEASE

6 May 2004 57/04

$308 MILLION INVESTMENT IN ICT FOR OUR FUTURE

The Australian Government will invest $308 million in measures to boost innovation in ICT as part of the $5.3 billion Backing Australia’s Ability—Building Our Future Through Science and Innovation package announced by Prime Minister John Howard today.

This important new science and innovation package includes the following key strategic investments in ICT:

• a $251 million extension of funding for the national ICT centre of excellence, National ICT Australia Ltd (NICTA); and

• a $57 million extension of funding for the ICT Incubators and Advanced Networks Programs previously funded under the Building on IT Strengths (BITS) program.

ICT underpins the development of Australia as an information economy and is central to innovation across most sectors.

The Government’s commitment to ICT innovation through Backing Australia’s Ability— Building Our Future Through Science and Innovation will ensure that Australia is able to harness emerging technologies and remain globally competitive.

NICTA is addressing an identified weakness in long-term strategic ICT research by developing first class ICT research, fostering the development of networks between ICT researchers and industry, increasing the availability of high quality research skills and growing Australia’s ability to create and exploit ICT for national benefit.

Backing Australia’s Ability—Building Our Future Through Science and Innovation will maintain NICTA’s funding at the 2005-06 level, providing the support for the organisation to achieve its goal of being a world-scale, leading edge strategic research institution and bolster Australia’s competitive advantage in ICT.

The Incubators Program provides start-up ICT companies with incubation services such as seed capital, business coaching and advice, mentoring and introductions to broader industry and financing networks.

An additional $36 million will extend the program for four years from 2004-05 to 2007—08, bringing total funding for ICT Incubators to $122 million since 1999-2000.

The Government’s continued investment in the program will allow a number of the existing incubators to move towards self-sustainability.

The Advanced Networks Program (ANP) supports very high capacity and experimental networks to enable research and development of network technologies and applications such as e-health, e-science and film post-production.

The ANP will receive an additional $21 million to extend its projects for three years from 2004-05 to 2006-07, bringing total funding to $60 million since the program began in 1999-2000.

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Two ANP projects, CeNTIE and GrangeNet, have already built very high-speed (10 gigabits per second) optic fibre networks linking research institutions in Perth, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane - the first such networks in the southern hemisphere.

A third project, m.Net, is an advanced wireless network in Adelaide that enables research into wireless network technologies and applications.

ICT applications effect every aspect of our lives. They help to deliver better education and health services and to provide people in regional areas with access to facilities that previously would have been out of reach.

The Australian Government is committed to ensuring that our ICT sector is well positioned to take Australia into the future. The funding announced today will provide substantial support for the continued development of our ICT industries.

Media Contact: Carina Tan-Van Baren (02) 6277 7480/ 0439 425 373