Victoria makes play to continue ICT lead

The Victorian state government has upped the stakes in the current game against NSW and Queensland to make it the dominant information and communications technology state.

The state government has released its new ICT plan to help drive productivity in the state through the greater use of ICT and the support of IT companies.

According to the $85 million Victoria’s Technology Plan for the Future – Information and Communications Technology, the constant evolution of ICT and emergence of ICT capabilities will be among the most important ways for the state to re-invigorate slowing productivity growth and support innovation.

“Under the plan, the government will ensure that technology businesses operate under the best possible conditions for their growth and development, while also promoting opportunities for technology-enabled innovation across the Victorian economy,” the plan reads.

“At the same time, the government will support convergence between the technologies where appropriate to deliver significant improvements in areas such as healthcare and agriculture, as well as contribute to the development of solutions to major challenges facing Victoria and Australia.”

The government has also announced $55 million for a similar biotechnology plan, and $10 million for a 'small technologies' plan, bringing total technology stimulus funding to $150 million.

To help boost ICT in the state, the plan proposes government assistance in two major areas: capability development and ICT-enabled innovation.

Capability development will involve working with the ICT sector to ensure that the right conditions exist in Victoria to support the growth of internationally competitive and recognised ICT businesses.

ICT-enabled innovation will involve working with industry and the education and research sectors to make sure RD infrastructure and expertise, skilled and innovative people and high-capacity broadband infrastructure are in place to support innovation across the economy.

“Alongside these initiatives, the government will review its own management and governance of ICT to ensure it is an efficient and effective user of ICT and that local companies are able to easily and cost effectively gain access to government work,” the plan reads.

Discussing growing Victorian ICT capabilities, the plan argues the state is already the leading home of Australian ICT with 87,000 people being employed in the sector at the beginning of 2011, and is in a strong position for future growth.

“Victoria has recognised strengths in software and services, network engineering, telecommunications, interactive media and high-end ICT research,” the plan reads. “The bulk of the top 30 Australian ICT companies are based in Victoria, including Computershare, MelbourneIT, Seek, SMS Technology, the REA Group and Telstra.“

Discussing developing new capabilities, the plan said Victoria was also in a good position to build upon its strengths in telecommunications, software development, high-end ICT RD and interactive media.

To do this, it would implement a new Digital Futures Fund to help support the development and trial of new ICT-enabled products, services and business models; assist businesses to use ICT to support business growth, improve competitiveness and productivity; and encourage ICT companies, researchers and end users to work together to use ICT to address specific problems or challenges.

It would also work with industry and education stakeholders to grow ICT research precincts across the state and to facilitate greater collaboration and international linkages, and facilitate strategic re-investments and new investments in the ICT sector.

“By actively promoting the use of transformative technologies, we expect to generate substantial benefits for Victorian industry, reinvigorate innovation in our businesses and provide solutions to some of the challenges facing our state,” the plan reads.

For its part, the NSW government last month called on the local ICT industry to help shape the recent Digital Economy Action Plan through detailed comment and formal submissions on the plan and its terms of reference.


Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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