Industry, Innovation and Science: Investing in Regional Growth—2016-17

The Industry, Innovation and Science portfolio's objective is to enable growth and productivity for globally competitive industries.

The Industry, Innovation and Science portfolio interacts with around 200,000 businesses each year, in metropolitan, regional and remote locations. It works with industry stakeholders, research institutions and other levels of government to foster collaboration and create networks to promote growth. The programme and service delivery division, AusIndustry, provides knowledgeable referrals to other streams of support that contribute to local business activity and economic development.

The Industry, Innovation and Science portfolio seeks to promote the growth of internationally competitive industries by facilitating nationwide action on innovation, regulation reform, collaboration, commercialisation and international engagement through the following activities:

  • supporting businesses to innovate, including collaboration with scientists and researchers in universities and other institutions to maximise commercial returns from public investment in science, research and development;
  • providing specialised data to identify potential for future investment opportunities, including in relation to mineral and energy resources;
  • facilitating competitive marketplaces and business investment by assisting adjustment to inevitable industrial transformation;
  • providing regulatory frameworks to sustainably expand our resource base and provide adequate, reliable and affordable energy to underpin our international competitiveness and economic growth;
  • reducing business costs, including energy costs through effective regulation; and
  • streamlining the way businesses of all sizes and in all locations of Australia, access Australian Government information, forms and services via

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science is leading the delivery of the Australian Government's National Innovation and Science Agenda. Innovation and science are at the heart of the Government's economic plan and, through the National Innovation and Science Agenda, the Australian Government will invest $1.1 billion to incentivise innovation and entrepreneurship, reward risk taking and promote science, maths and computing in schools to drive the smart ideas that create business growth, local jobs and global success.

Growth Centres continue to be established in six sectors of competitive strength and strategic priority. Growth Centres are working to unlock commercial opportunities and drive innovation by building links between businesses and industry organisations and the science and research sector.

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science is the lead agency coordinating the delivery of the Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia. The Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia was released in June 2015 and is an essential part of the nation's plan to build a strong and prosperous economy. Including 40 per cent of Australia's landmass, and over 1.3 million people, the north is endowed with many natural resources.

The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility is a major initiative of the Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia being delivered by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. It will offer up to $5 billion in financing to encourage and complement private sector investment in economic infrastructure. This is in addition to the $75.0 million Cooperative Research Centre, the opening of the Major Projects Approvals Agency in Darwin and the Northern Australia Tourism Initiative. The Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia also includes more than $700 million in direct investment in transport infrastructure and $200.0 million for water infrastructure development. These and other key initiatives offer significant Australian Government support for advancing development right across the north.

The Australian Government's Energy White Paper was released in early 2015. It will ensure the energy sector continues to underpin economic growth and will benefit regional and remote Australia, through infrastructure investment and jobs for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

On 4 December 2015, the Australian Government announced a target of improving Australia's energy productivity by 40 per cent between 2015 and 2030. To meet this commitment, the Australian Government, along with States and Territories, has developed a National Energy Productivity Plan which will benefit small and large regional energy consumers.

The Industry, Innovation and Science portfolio has a broad regional presence with services delivered through a number of networks and agencies, including: AusIndustry; the National Measurement Institute; CSIRO; the Australian Institute of Marine Science; Geoscience Australia; and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. Approximately 34 per cent of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science' staff are based outside Canberra. The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science' regional presence includes:

  • the AusIndustry Regional Manager Network, which operates from 16 regional offices raising awareness and facilitating access for regional businesses to programmes and services;
  • the Entrepreneurs' Programme, which has 28 Business Management and Innovation Connections Advisers and Facilitators located in regional Australia who provide business advice and facilitation services to small and medium businesses –the Entrepreneurs' Programme also has 22 Commercialisation Advisers located in capital cities who provide services to entrepreneurs, start-ups and businesses in regional Australia;
  • CSIRO, which has staff at 21 sites across regional Australia;
  • Questacon, which runs a suite of national programmes, including travelling exhibitions, to make science and technology programmes accessible to communities throughout Australia, with a focus on regional areas, and funds an expanding national network of Science Technology Engineering and Maths engagement hubs throughout regional and metropolitan areas, through the Inspiring Australia programme;
  • the Australian Institute of Marine Science, which is based in Townsville, North Queensland, and provides applied research and development advice to industries operating along the coastline of Northern Australia;
  • Geoscience Australia, which supports activities in regional Australia across minerals, energy, water, resources and supports natural hazard and disaster preparedness and response;
  • the National Measurement Institute trade measurement network, which includes 15 regionally-based offices;
  • the Office of Northern Australia, which supports the delivery of the Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia and includes four sites across the northern jurisdictions; and
  • support for 12 Cooperative Research Centres involved in research related to rural and regional Australia. Since 1991, there have been 86 rural-focused Cooperative Research Centres supported by $1.9 billion in Australian Government funding.

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New Initiatives

Exploring for the Future

The $100.5 million Exploring for the Future programme will produce the next generation of pre-competitive geoscience data, with a focus on northern Australia and South Australia, to improve Australia's long term exploration prospects and address declining onshore greenfield exploration. The programme will aim to de-risk and renew the appetite for investment in mineral exploration, and help identify major new gas and minerals resources.

Exploring for the Future will deliver a comprehensive prospectus of Australia's mineral, petroleum and groundwater resources based on the collection and release of nationally significant geological data and information. Access to new and more detailed geological data and information will assist all participants in the resources sector increase the potential and level of exploration activities in Australia.

The new pre-competitive data has the potential to stimulate investment in minerals exploration, infrastructure developments and generate employment opportunities associated with the development of resources projects. Many of Geoscience Australia pre-competitive data programmes have generated benefits that reach further than local communities and the sector. It has been estimated by a 2015 ACIL Allen Consulting economic impact study on the Western Australia Government's Exploration Incentive Scheme that the rate of return for every dollar invested in pre-competitive programmes has a multiplier of more than 20 times.

Rum Jungle Rehabilitation Project

The Rum Jungle Rehabilitation Project will provide a further $10.8 million in funding in 2016-17 to finalise a detailed plan for the environmental rehabilitation of the Rum Jungle mine site in the Northern Territory and its continued site management and maintenance activities. It also supports maintenance activities at the Rum Jungle Creek South site, a public recreation area. This measure is a continuation of the 2013 Economic Statement Measure 'Former Rum Jungle uranium mine site—rehabilitation'.

National Carp Control Plan

The National Carp Control Plan is a $15.0 million three year ministerial taskforce to oversee the development of a national plan to release a carp viral bio-control agent. The National Carp Control Plan involves consultations with stakeholders including governments, research agencies and local communities to examine the possibility of releasing the bio-control agent in conjunction with complementary control measures to create maximum impact on carp populations while minimising disruption to industries, communities and the environment.

Common carp are the worst freshwater aquatic pest in Australia with estimated economic impacts reaching $500.0 million per annum. The majority of this impact is felt in regional areas of Australia. The National Carp Control Plan will prevent degradation of rural and regional water supplies and prevent harm to river and wetland ecology while limiting the impact on local communities.

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science will work closely with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources in the development of the National Carp Control Plan.

Northern Australia Water Resource Assessment

As announced on 26 February 2016, over the next three years CSIRO will work with northern jurisdictions, research partners and communities to undertake assessments as part of the Northern Australia Water Resource Assessment. The assessments will focus on the Mitchell river basin in Queensland, the Darwin river basins (Finniss, Adelaide, Mary, Wildman) in the Northern Territory and the Fitzroy river basin in Western Australia. These assessments will be similar to the work CSIRO undertook in the Flinders and Gilbert Agricultural Resource Assessment which identified up to 50,000 ha of new irrigated agriculture opportunities for north Queensland and informed the revision of the Gulf Water Plan. The commitment is for $15 million in Australian Government funding to June 2018 under the Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia.

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Current Initiatives

White Paper on Developing Northern Australia

In June 2015 the Australian Government released Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia, the first White Paper on Developing Northern Australia. The White Paper is a vision and a plan to unlock the great potential and opportunities of the north, capitalising on the region's strengths and removing barriers to investment. The Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia underscores the importance of ensuring regulation protects the community and the environment while also supporting markets, investment and innovation.

The Office of Northern Australia in the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science is coordinating the delivery of 51 discrete initiatives under the Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia, across 13 different government agencies. In addition to this coordinating role, the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has responsibility for the delivery of the following measures:

  • the $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility;
  • expanding access to the Entrepreneur's Programme to include tourism and smaller northern Australian businesses;
  • $75.0 million for the establishment of a northern Australia Cooperative Research Centre;
  • the establishment of a Major Projects Approvals Agency in Darwin; and
  • shifting the Office of Northern Australia to the north.

The new Darwin Office of the Office of Northern Australia was opened on 18 December 2015. The new Head of Office of Northern Australia has commenced in the role and is located in Darwin. The Major Projects Approval Agency's Darwin office was opened on 18 January 2016. The Major Projects Approval Agency provides major project proponents in the Northern Territory a single point of entry for assistance navigating regulatory approvals and complements the Northern Territory's existing framework to facilitate major project investment.

Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility

The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, announced in the 2015-16 Budget, is a major initiative of the Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia and is integral to the Government's strategy for the north.

From 1 July 2016, the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility will offer up to $5 billion in concessional finance to encourage and complement private sector investment in economic infrastructure (such as rail, water, energy, communications networks, ports and airports) that otherwise would not be built or would not be built for some time. This support for transformative economic infrastructure will be a significant step for the longer term expansion of the economy and population in northern Australia.

Developing Northern Australia

The Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia included $75.0 million over 10 years to establish a Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia. The Cooperative Research Centre will assist businesses, governments and researchers to work together to identify opportunities for business and growth in the north. The Cooperative Research Centre will be industry led, located in the north and have an initial focus on areas where the north has particular strengths. This includes agriculture, food and tropical health. The Cooperative Research Centre is expected to commence in mid 2016.

Northern Australian Tourism Initiative

The Northern Australia Tourism Initiative is one of a suite of new programmes announced in response to the Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia. This $13.6 million initiative was launched in February 2016 to provide more help to tourism businesses in northern Australia to grow, be smarter and be more internationally competitive. It extends both the Entrepreneurs' Programme and the Australian Small Business Advisory Services programme to better target the needs of the northern Australian tourism industry.

The Entrepreneurs' Programme provides northern tourism businesses with practical support to build management and business capability, helping businesses to improve their performance and grow. A new tourism service has also been developed to assist small groups of businesses to address a joint challenge so they can work together to make the most of northern Australian tourism market opportunities.

Under the Australian Small Business Advisory Services programme, not-for-profit small business advisory services can now apply for funding to improve their capability to provide low cost advisory and information services to Indigenous and non-Indigenous tourism small businesses in northern Australia. Small business advisory services will be available to small businesses in northern Australia from mid 2016.

Industry Growth Centres

The $248.0 million Industry Growth Centres Initiative (Growth Centres) is an industry-led approach driving innovation, productivity and competitiveness by concentrating our investment on key industry sectors.

The Growth Centres will identify opportunities to reduce regulatory burden, increase collaboration and commercialisation, improve capabilities to engage with international markets and global supply chains, and enhance management and workforce skills.

Growth Centres are being established in six sectors of competitive strength and strategic priority:

  • advanced manufacturing;
  • cyber security;
  • food and agribusiness;
  • medical technologies and pharmaceuticals;
  • mining equipment, technology and services; and
  • oil, gas and energy resources.

Growth Centres are working to lift the levels of collaboration between businesses, industry, research organisations and Australian Government in order to better capitalise on the excellent research and development undertaken and scientific knowledge generated in Australia.

Growth Centres are helping align industry and innovation policy and programmes, including CSIRO and Cooperative Research Centres, to contribute to improving the productivity, competitiveness and innovative capacity of their sectors.

Cooperative Research Centre Programme

The $608.0 million Cooperative Research Centre Programme forms part of the Government's National Innovation and Science Agenda. The Cooperative Research Centre Programme was established in 1990 and is a competitive, merit based grant programme that supports industry-led collaborations between industry, researchers and the community. By investing in research and development through Cooperative Research Centres, businesses are increasing their income, competitiveness and productivity.

Cooperative Research Centres are also producing graduates with hands-on industry experience helping to create a highly-skilled workforce. The Cooperative Research Centre Programme continues to support Cooperative Research Centres related to rural and regional Australia.

These Cooperative Research Centres contribute to strengthening rural and regional development in areas such as our agriculture and mining industries, farming systems, participation of remote communities and improving health outcomes for Indigenous Australians. Regional businesses (including small and medium-sized enterprises), Rural Research and Development Corporations, universities and research organisations can be a part of a Cooperative Research Centre and its activities.

Entrepreneurs' Programme

The Entrepreneurs' Programme is the Government's flagship initiative for business competitiveness and productivity at the firm level. It provides practical advice and support for businesses, including advice from people with private sector experience; co-funded grants to commercialise novel products, processes and services; funding to take advantage of growth opportunities; and connection and collaboration opportunities. This is building the capabilities of small and medium businesses in key growth sectors. Services and grants are delivered through three elements: Business Management; Innovation Connections; and Accelerating Commercialisation. Services are flexible, tailored and focused on value-added advice and support. Services can be accessed by all Australian businesses, including those in regional Australia, subject to meeting the programme's eligibility requirements.

Incubator Support is part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda. Incubator Support will contribute to the Australian Government's priorities by supporting incubators, accelerators and related business support organisations that can foster the development and growth of high-potential start-ups.

As part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, Research Innovations was expanded and relaunched as Innovation Connections. The expansion of the Innovation Connections Facilitator Network will allow for the reverse placement of business people into research organisations, including in some instances regional universities, and also the placement of graduates into businesses.

Growth Fund

The Government has established a $155.0 million Growth Fund, to which it is contributing $100.6 million. The Growth Fund is helping to facilitate structural change and build jobs of the future in regions affected by the closure of car manufacturing plants. This will help workers from Holden and Toyota to transition to new jobs, encourage automotive supply chain firms to diversify, and to accelerate new business activity in sectors outside of car manufacturing in Victoria and South Australia. The Growth Fund includes:

Single Business Service

Consistent with the Asutralian Government's Digital Transformation Agenda, the Single Business Service is putting the needs of Australian businesses first by simplifying and streamlining access to information and advice.

Funding of $78.2 million has been provided to implement the initiative as part of the Entrepreneurs' Programme. The Single Business Service initiative recognises that in the past, businesses have struggled to access Australian Government services and navigate the wealth of Australian Government information available to find what they need or who to talk to. Businesses, including those in regional Australia, can now get information and help through one website—, one contact centre—13 28 46 and AusIndustry's national network to:

  • get a business up and running;
  • develop and commercialise ideas and products;
  • improve, innovate and grow a business; and
  • reach new markets.

Science for Australia's Future

Science for Australia's Future—Inspiring Australia is a $28.1 million initiative that will promote science and reward scientific excellence through programmes like National Science Week, the Prime Minister's Prizes for Science, State and Territory coordinating committees, regional community science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) Hubs and Questacon educational campaigns. The initiative will also deliver programmes to increase access to Questacon's resources across rural and regional Australia. Through arrangements with State and Territory governments and local organisations, appropriate programmes are being developed and delivered to meet State and Territory policy priorities and local needs. Specific initiatives include the following:

Inspiring Australia—Regional Science Hub Programme

Over the next four years Inspiring Australia will expand its network of STEM engagement hubs across Australia to establish local, self-sustaining collaborations of organisations that will work together to deliver STEM programmes for their regions. This will create a platform from which as many Australians as possible can participate in science engagement programmes and gain access to quality science engagement activities. In New South Wales alone, 23 Inspiring Australia hubs have been established, linking with over 200 regional organisations.

Inspiring Australia—National Science Week

National Science Week has a truly national reach with activities in almost every corner of Australia, providing opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to engage in STEM. These activities reach regional and remote Australia, including through regional activities, events and online activities for anyone who is not able to reach an event near them. Locally organised National Science Week committees ensure diverse programmes of activity are available in regions throughout Australia. A national grant selection committee for National Science Week is continually looking for innovative ideas to help engage new audiences in a wide range of locations, in different facets of STEM.

Inspiring Australia—Pathway Programmes

In order to ensure Australian communities are able to engage in STEM programmes throughout the year, the national network of Inspiring Australia officers is working with regional STEM hubs to build capacity in regional areas and encourage the development of combined and inter-linked community calendars of STEM activities. This initiative aims to support deeper community engagement in STEM and build connections to further learning and participation opportunities.

Inspiring Australia—Leadership Activities

Inspiring Australia is supporting and leading a model of National Framework—Local Action for STEM engagement across Australia, working with a variety of leadership groups and subject matter experts. Previous expert groups have identified a number of priority audiences in regional Australia, including Indigenous Australians, the people of the north and those living and working in the desert regions. A number of recommendations have been implemented including the establishment of a Desert Science Knowledge Network. Ongoing work will continue to investigate the best way to introduce an Indigenous Science Engagement agenda for Australia and build support for science engagement in the north through linkages to the Government's northern Australia agenda.

Inspiring Australia—Citizen Science Programmes

Inspiring Australia has supported the establishment of a variety of citizen science initiatives including the annual ABC Online Citizen Science activity and the national not-for-profit Australian Citizen Science Association, in order to boost national and regional capacity for engaging citizens in STEM activities and increasing community participation in and support for scientific research activities. Projects administered through Australian Citizen Science Association will take place in many rural and regional areas, with the Association also providing centralised advice and supporting resources to regional organisations wishing to engage in citizen science activities.

Australian Government Innovation and Investment Fund

The Australian Government Innovation and Investment Fund will provide $13.0 million over the three years from 2014-15 to 2016-17 to assist 41 business investment projects leading to new jobs and growth in Tasmania. The Australian Government Innovation and Investment Fund will be matched by $27.0 million from the participating businesses and is expected to create 403 new jobs. The Australian Government Innovation and Investment Fund is a merit-based, competitive grants programme that is delivered by AusIndustry. It forms part of the Australian Government's $106.0 million commitment to jobs and growth in Tasmania announced during the 2013 federal election.

The Tasmania Jobs and Investment Fund

The Tasmania Jobs and Investment Fund will provide $24.0 million over the three years from 2015-16 to 2017-18 to assist business investment projects leading to new jobs and growth in Tasmania. The Tasmania Jobs and Investment Fund is made up of $16.0 million from the Government and $8.0 million from the Tasmanian Government. Grants will be offered on the basis of one dollar for every two dollars matched by the successful applicants. The Tasmania Jobs and Investment Fund is a merit-based, competitive grants programme that is delivered by AusIndustry. The first round of the Tasmania Jobs and Investment Fund opened on 4 December 2015 and closed on 12 February 2016.

Geelong Region Innovation and Investment Fund

The Geelong Region Innovation and Investment Fund was announced by the Government and the Victorian Government on 23 May 2013, as part of a package of measures to support the regions affected by Ford Australia's decision to cease manufacturing operations in Australia from October 2016.

The Geelong Region Innovation and Investment Fund is a competitive, merit based grants programme that supports investment by business that leads directly to sustainable new jobs and economic diversification in the Geelong region. It was announced as a $24.5 million programme comprising $15.0 million from the Government, $4.5 million from the Victorian Government and $5.0 million from Ford Australia.

 In 2014, Alcoa made available an additional $5.0 million as part of its $10.0 million package of assistance for employees, businesses and community affected by its closure of the Port Henry aluminium smelter and rolling mill in Geelong.

The Geelong Region Innovation and Investment Fund operates over four years to 30 June 2017.

Three funding rounds have been completed, with 16 companies currently undertaking projects that are expected to create 831 jobs and generate over $145.0 million in investment in the Geelong region.

Major Projects Approval Agency

The Major Projects Approval Agency is a national facility that provides services to the Northern Territory and Tasmania to ensure that investors and developers are aware of all regulatory approval and compliance obligations that affect their project. The Major Projects Approval Agency is a 'single point of entry' into the Australian Government and works closely with State and Territory governments to complement their activities. It provides information and advice across all tiers of government and across jurisdictions. The Major Projects Approval Agency also supports red tape reform by monitoring regulatory impacts on development and identifying opportunities for improvement.

Under the Australian Government's economic plan for Tasmania, the Major Projects Approval Agency's Tasmanian office was established in 2014 and allocated $2.7 million in funding. The Major Projects Approval Agency's Darwin office was established in January 2016 as part of the Northern Australia White Paper initiative and has received $2.1 million in funding.

Australian Tropical Medicine Commercialisation Programme

The Australian Tropical Medicine Commercialisation Programme is delivered by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science on behalf of Austrade. This programme, announced on 8 November 2015, helps Australian businesses and researchers to develop pathways to commercialise Australian tropical medical research in partnership with international organisations.

Grant funding totalling $7.1 million will help build connections between Australian research institutes and the global health sector, including international pharmaceutical companies and philanthropic organisations.

Tropical Medicine is the branch of medicine focused on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, found primarily in the tropic and sub-tropic regions of the world, generally between 30 degrees north and south of the equator. These include parasitic infections, as well as 'exotic' viral, bacterial and fungal infections. This programme was established under the Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia—Tropical Health Strategy which aims at protecting our people and economy from the increased risks of disease, while commercialising Australian tropical disease research and development.

The National Energy Productivity Plan

The National Energy Productivity Plan aims to improve energy productivity by driving:

  • more productive consumer choices, through measures which make consumer energy choices easier, help business compete and provide more efficient incentives; and
  • more productive energy services, through measures which support innovation, competitive modern markets and consumer protection.

The work plan covers the first steps in the 15 year life of the National Energy Productivity Plan and will be continuously updated.

The National Energy Productivity Plan will make it easier for households and businesses to drive energy savings themselves, with better tools and more relevant advice. It will also expand energy information disclosure for buildings, and build on existing energy performance rating tools to ensure consumers get better buildings with improved performance and lower costs.

The National Energy Productivity Plan also covers improvements in vehicle efficiency and prioritising and streamlining the way Australia sets minimum energy performance standards for appliances to provide more consumer benefits.

Business Research and Innovation Initiative

The Business Research and Innovation Initiative will help the Government to tap into leading-edge thinking and find the most innovative solutions to important challenges in public policy and government service delivery.

Entrepreneurs will receive funding to create innovative products and services. Businesses will retain the intellectual property and the right to commercialise the ideas in Australia or overseas.

Critical early-stage financial support to innovative start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises will help them test their new ideas and provide a path to market through developing a track record. The initiative will also act as a catalyst for small and medium-sized enterprises with government as a customer thereby driving employment and economic growth.

The Australian Government will work with the new Innovation and Science Australia to nominate five national policy and service delivery challenges. Innovative businesses will be invited to submit proposals to address these challenges with the winners receiving grants of up to $100,000 to test their ideas over three to six months of development. The most successful ideas may then be eligible for a further grant of up to $1.0 million to develop a prototype or proof of concept over the next 12 to 18 months.

The Business Research and Innovation Initiative offers particular opportunities for regional, innovative small and medium-sized enterprises as applicants who must have annual turnover of less than $20.0 million per annum and the development of the solution to proof of concept stage is underwritten by the Business Research and Innovation Initiative grant.

Research and Development Tax Incentive

The Research and Development Tax Incentive is a key element of the Australian Government's support for innovative Australian businesses. The Research and Development Tax Incentive provides support to eligible businesses, including those in regional areas, undertaking research and development activities.

The two key components of the Research and Development Tax Incentive are: a refundable tax offset for small and medium-sized enterprises with an aggregated turnover of under $20.0 million; and a non-refundable tax offset for eligible larger firms. The rate of the research and development tax offset is reduced to the company tax rate (currently 30 per cent) for that portion of an entity's notional research and development deductions that exceeds $100.0 million for an income year.

Australian Small Business Advisory Services

The Australian Small Business Advisory Services programme improves the capacity of established, not-for-profit small business advisory service providers to deliver low cost small business advisory and information services.

Under the Australian Small Business Advisory Services Business Solutions 2014 Round, 34 projects are funded until 31 March 2018. Two additional Australian Small Business Advisory Services National Interest projects have also been funded. Since the projects commenced in March 2015 over 17,500 services have been provided to small business operators and those who intend to start small businesses in 200 local government areas across Australia. Twenty-two of these projects deliver services to regional or remote Australia.

On 29 February 2016, the Government announced the Australian Small Business Advisory Services Business Solutions Northern Australia Tourism Initiative round. Up to seven projects are expected to the funded for three years from June 2016. The majority of the Australian Small Business Advisory Services Business Solutions Northern Australia Tourism Initiative projects are anticipated to deliver services in regional or remote northern Australia.

Tradex Scheme

The Tradex Scheme provides an up-front exemption from Customs duty and GST on eligible imported goods that are intended for direct export or incorporated in other goods that are exported. This up-front exemption can provide significant cash flow advantages which can also assist the competitiveness of Australian business in developing their export markets.

Anti-Dumping measures

The purpose of Australia's anti-dumping system, which is administered by the Anti-Dumping Commission, is to give Australian producers the opportunity to compete with imports on a level playing field.

Anti-dumping measures are currently in force in relation to certain imported goods that compete with goods produced by a number of industries that are located in regional Australia. These include the food processing industry located in Shepparton, Victoria, and the steel industry, which has its manufacturing hubs in regional New South Wales and South Australia.

Exploration Development Incentive

The Exploration Development Incentive encourages shareholder investment in small exploration companies undertaking greenfields mineral exploration in Australia. It provides an economic incentive to invest in the future prosperity of the Australian mining sector. This benefits the Australian economy by enabling the mining sector to continue making new mineral discoveries. Exploration activity will be almost exclusively carried out in regional areas. The Exploration Development Incentive enables eligible exploration companies with eligible expenditure to distribute exploration credits to shareholders. The shareholders will then be entitled to a refundable tax offset. The incentive applies from 1 July 2014 and is capped at a total of $100.0 million over a three year period.

Alice Springs Antenna Upgrade

The upgrade of the antenna at the Alice Springs ground station will ensure Australia's access to satellite imagery that is critical to its resources management and disaster recovery management. A key element of the work has been the engagement of Alice Springs service providers. $500,000 has been invested locally through the 'Centre for Appropriate Technology', an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation, for site support work and facility management. Other services such as engineering, building and electrical are provided by local organisations. As a visible symbol of this investment and of Geoscience Australia's commitment to the region, the project also engaged a local Indigenous artist to prepare artwork, key elements of which have been reproduced on the reflector of the nine metre antenna.

Questacon Smart Skills Initiative

Questacon Smart Skills is a free programme developed for secondary school students which creates an awareness of technology, engineering and design thinking amongst young Australians. The programme includes virtual workshops and regional tours; in school workshops for students and professional development workshops for teachers. Complementary to the Smart Skills programme is the Questacon Invention Convention, a three day programme which delivers intensive innovation and enterprise focused workshops in regional centres. The Invention Conventions involve partnerships with local and national enterprises to assist in fostering innovation.

Shell Questacon Science Circus

The Shell Questacon Science Circus is an award-wining partnership programme between Questacon, the Australian National University and Shell currently in its 31st year. The Science Circus programme tours nationally, returning to the same communities every few years.

The Science Circus facilitates and hosts a temporary science centre in regional and remote areas, presents in-school science shows to pre-primary, primary and secondary school students and families, and facilitates teacher professional development workshops. The team of presenters consists of up to 16 students, who are studying towards a Master of Science Communication Outreach at the Australian National University.

Travelling Exhibitions

Questacon tours travelling exhibitions to a range of regional and metropolitan venues across Australia, fulfilling Questacon's national role and responsibility of providing access to hands-on informal learning experiences that might not otherwise be easily available. The interactive exhibitions are developed in-house by Questacon and provide engagement for all ages. The travelling exhibitions provide a range of size, topics and complexity options suitable for most venue requirements.

Questacon Virtual Excursions

Questacon reaches rural and regional Australia through its Schmidt Studio and its Virtual Excursions programme, which involves one hour hands-on workshops covering topics including environmental science, physics of flight and the innovation process. These videoconference workshops are designed for students in primary and secondary school and are an effective means for schools who have limited opportunities due to their location.

Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation is one of Australia's largest public research organisations and the centre of Australia's nuclear expertise. This expertise is applied to nuclear medicine production and research into areas of national priority including health, materials engineering and water resource management as well as helping Australian industries solve complex problems. The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation is also a major employer in the Illawarra region of New South Wales.

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation's ability to trace the movement of water using isotopic and nuclear techniques is helping water resource managers in remote and regional Australia make more informed decisions about groundwater use and sustainability.

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation's Isotopes for Water project is improving understanding and management of groundwater systems in several sites across Australia, including the Pilbara and South West regions of Western Australia, the Riversleigh and Coopers Creek regions of Queensland, and right across the Murray-Darling Basin.

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation is also the primary supplier of radiopharmaceuticals in Australia, producing approximately 550,000 patient doses of life-saving nuclear medicines each year. These medicines are used in the diagnosis of heart disease as well as a range of cancers, and will be required, on average, by one in two Australians during their lifetime. These medicines are distributed right across Australia, including to regional hospitals and medical practices.

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