Government pledges $308m in ICT funding

The Federal Government has committed $5.3 billion to continue and grow its Backing Australia’s Ability program. The announcement was made by the Minister of Communications, Information, Technology and the Arts, Daryl Williams, at the CeBIT show in Sydney yesterday.

As part of the package the Government will invest $308 million to boost innovation in ICT.

The investment will include a $251 million extension of funding for the ICT Centre of Excellence – National ICT Australia, (NICTA), and a $57 million extension for the ICT Incubators and Advanced Networks programs.

“This $308 million investment along with other strategic investments in the new BAA package will ensure that Australia is in the best position to harness emerging technologies and remain globally competitive,” Williams said.

This amount was more than double the amount that was provided to ICT under the original Backing Australia’s Ability package, he said.

The Ability program seeks to strengthen Australia’s ability to generate ideas and undertake research, to accelerate the commercialisation of ideas and to develop and retains skills.

Williams said that the Building on Information Technology Strengths (BITS) Incubator program had provided 86 million in funding to 11 companies and had resulted in job creation, increased ICT revenue, boosted exports and the fostering of the commercialisation of new ideas.

“The incubators have shown what can be achieved when people with good ideas get together with people who are in the business of making things happen,” he said.

Williams also said that the BITS Advanced Networks program would be given $21 million to extend for three years to 2006/07.

“These projects provide critical infrastructure for e-research and industry research and development in areas such as tele-health, wireless networks and distance learning,” he said.

NICTA - its mission is to undertake ICT research to an international standard and scale to conduct research training - will receive $251 million over five financial years beginning in 2006/07.

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