ACT Budget allocates more money for business and innovation in the capital

More money for Innovation Connect grants

Under the budget announcement, the 2023-24 ACT Budget provides $1.1 million over two years to continue the partnership with the Canberra Innovation Network (CBRIN) to deliver the Innovation Connect (ICON grants). This budget announcement includes a small increase in funding to account for rising costs.

According to the ACT Government spokesperson, ICON continues to be the ACT Government’s flagship innovation program and a vital component of the innovation ecosystem.

“The importance of the grants is also in the learning that happens across all applicants, even with those who may not be successful in the current funding round. ” — Petr Adámek

CBRIN CEO Petr Adámek welcomed the announcement, noting that the ICON grants provide a critical pathway for entrepreneurs and innovators in the ACT to take their idea from concept to the next level to develop a prototype or proof of concept that can be shown further to investors and first customers.

Successful ICON grant applications cover diverse sectors, including consumer products, food and beverages, climate tech, space technology, health technology, cybersecurity and e-government services, baby products, boats, pet owner-oriented solutions, tools and equipment. There are even beverages, with Australia’s premium non-alcoholic beer, Heaps Normal, a famous ICON grant alumni.

Adámek said the diversity of applications submitted for ICON grants indicated a healthy innovation economy. ‘The importance of the grants is also in the learning that happens across all applicants, even with those who may not be successful in the current funding round – the application process, the pitching feedback, the variety of support available to the startup entrepreneurs are all important ingratiates in a functioning innovation ecosystem,’ he said.

Expansion of the Canberra Innovation Network into a hub

According to the ACT Government spokesperson, the ACT Government remains committed to CBRIN and acknowledges it plays a critical role in the ACT’s innovation ecosystem.

The 2023-24 ACT Budget provides $3.038 million over two years to support CBRIN’s operations. The Budget also provides $2.7 million to support CBRIN’s expansion to level 4 at 1 Moore Street Canberra, which will see CBRIN double its footprint at 1 Moore Street, providing more space to support more of Canberra’s growing start-ups.

“We see ourselves more of a network of hubs than just a hub ” — Petr Adámek

Adamek said CBRIN is nearing its capacity in level 5. It closed the last quarter with over 216 active coworkers working in 74 companies. It now faces the problem of not having the space for scale-up companies where teams can grow in sustainable medium-scale firms. But the good news is that space on level 4 is expanding, with an additional 1,600m2 of space for later-stage startups with office space and facilities for their growth.

‘We see ourselves more of a network of hubs than just a hub,’ he said. ‘We connect all the hubs across the ACT at 1 Moore Street. We manage a neutral innovation space for the ACT where ambitious founders of companies can grow solutions to change the world through innovation and collaboration.’

The Small Business Expo

Breaking news: the ACT Government plans to hold a Small Business Expo, which will focus on small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to support economic and employment outcomes.

According to the ACT Government spokesperson, the Small Business Expo aims to showcase local businesses and connect SMEs to potential customers, building collaboration and networks for small business owners in our region. The Expo will cater for a range of small business needs such as finance, business planning and marketing.

“We believe future growth and diversification of our economy will come from SMEs and startups that will turn into SMEs and high growth companies,” — Petr Adámek

Adamek said that Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) are critically important for Canberra’s economy. ‘We believe future growth and diversification of our economy will come from SMEs and startups that will turn into SMEs and high growth companies. They will forge new industries, collaborate with our knowledge institutions, find new customers, create new jobs and attract more people to the city. Their flexibility and dynamic capabilities to adapt to new technologies and deliver new innovations is critically important for productivity and competitiveness of our economy in the long term.’

 Stay tuned for details of the expo, which will be announced.


The 2023-24 ACT Budget announced an additional $0.926 million over two years ($2.675 million in total) to expand the Better Regulation Taskforce, continuing delivery of the Better Regulation Agenda.

 The ACT Government spokesperson said the Better Regulation Agenda has two streams of government reform action:

  • Stream One – Policy and Legislation - Through the policy and legislation stream the ACT Government will make continuous improvements to rules, regulations, and processes to improve outcomes for businesses.

  • Stream Two – Business Experience and Regulator Practice – In this stream, the ACT Government will make government and business interactions better, faster, and simpler.

This financial year, the ACT Government will bring a strong focus on improving Canberra’s night-time economy. ‘The Taskforce, working across government, will review the night-time and entertainment economy with a view to implementing regulatory settings that enable this important sector of our economy to thrive,’ said the ACT Government spokesperson. ‘The ACT Government sees this work as a vital contribution in Canberra’s continuing development as an inclusive, captivating city underpinned by a strong economic foundation and a range of innovative business opportunities.’

The ACT Government has released a draft vision for consultation to guide priorities for change and improvement. The ACT Government also plans to consult with stakeholders on topic-specific themes relevant to the nighttime economy, including noise, liquor licensing, and planning.

The Government is expanding the delivery of its Better Regulation Agenda to improve government-to-business interactions and encourage the sustainable growth of businesses in the ACT. Initiatives will include:

  • a comprehensive program of industry engagement to inform the night-time economy review;

  • the development of a business sentiment survey in collaboration with the Canberra Business Chamber;

  • additional business mapping and measurements of regulatory burden in additional sectors; and

  • development of a model for a government-to-business secondment program.

Article written by Serina Bird for The Moore Street Journal.