​Queensland pumps additional AU$15m into innovation kitty

The additional cash takes the total Advance Queensland funding to AU$420 million.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The Queensland government has pledged an additional AU$15 million over four years into its Advance Queensland innovation fund, with the cash injection to be used to develop 10-year priority industry roadmaps and action plans.

The funding was announced on Tuesday as part of the state's 2017-18 Budget and sees the Advance Queensland kitty now sit at AU$420 million.

In delivering the Budget, Treasurer Curtis Pitt said that innovation isn't just about new industries of the future; rather, it is about transforming existing industries.

As a result, Pitt has allocated AU$10.9 million of the state's Business Development Fund into Queensland businesses, which he said is aimed at encouraging venture capital investment.

A further AU$10 million is being redirected into the Ignite Ideas Fund, which has seen almost AU$16.5 million invested to date in 118 small Queensland-based firms that have developed a product prototype ready for market.

The treasurer also announced that the state government would soon be kicking off a campaign aimed at drawing talent and tech companies out of New South Wales and Victoria to set up in Queensland, using the state's comparatively lower tax rate as its main attraction.

"Per capita state tax is estimated at AU$2,691 in 2017-18, compared to an average of AU$3,534 for the other states and territories," Pitt explained. "People will continue to benefit from the government maintaining its commitment to not introduce new taxes, fees, or charges on Queenslanders -- they'll also benefit from greater housing affordability."

Minister for State Development Anthony Lynham expects the latest Advance Queensland funding boost to identify knowledge-based jobs of the future, which he said includes funding to access "world-class" biomedical infrastructure, as well as the implementation of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) systems -- drones.

Lynham said the new funding will allow the government to look into the application of drones for military and civil markets, while also promoting Queensland's defence and aerospace industry, and follows the AU$1 million investment in RPA technology last July, expected to benefit the LNG, agriculture, mining, energy, telecommunications, search and rescue, and environmental management industries.

"The government continues to work with small and medium manufacturing enterprises to help increase their international productivity and competitiveness, and adopt innovative processes and technologies," the minister said.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk first announced the state's AU$180 million Advance Queensland initiative in the 2015-16 Budget, with AU$24 million to be used to give Queensland-based startups a boost.

"As a government, we know that the real driver of economic change are entrepreneurs and ambitious businesses," the premier said previously.

"Every big corporate starts as an emerging business that took a chance. Startups can reshape entire industries through technology and business model innovation. They are vital to job creation and prosperity -- in fact, studies have found that each technology job created leads to five additional jobs in other sectors."

With a handful of projects under Advance Queensland under way, Palaszczuk allocated an additional AU$225.2 million towards the initiative in the state's 2016-17 Budget.

This year's Budget also sees a AU$10 million, four-year Queensland Health and Medical Research Funding Program, which Minister for Health Cameron Dick said will provide strong support to "innovative, collaborative research" that can be applied to front-line healthcare in Queensland.

"New initiatives that emerge from this program will be co-designed with the research community to ensure that benefits are maximised and complement the government's innovation agenda," Dick said.

"This state Budget continues to focus on investment supporting initiatives that improve health outcomes for the disadvantaged and or vulnerable people in our community."

Regional Queensland has also received an innovation boost, with AU$140 million for job and infrastructure creation, while the AU$20 million Made in Queensland program is targeted at growing regional economies and employment.

Capital purchases of AU$18.1 million have also been planned for 2017-18, with a focus on developing and upgrading existing research facilities across the state.

Of this funding, AU$4.5 million will be used to upgrade the department's research and operational facilities, with funding for vessels and marine equipment made available for fisheries research.

The Queensland government also announced that it will be spending an additional AU$40 million on digitalising government services, transforming the delivery of scientific information, and safeguarding state records.

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