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Message from the CEO

In a month or so I’ll be coming up to almost a year in the job. It certainly has been a whirlwind. We have conducted around 150 meetings with business, peak groups, government, research institutions, innovation networks, thought leaders and the list goes on. Establishing new networks and building up older more established ones has been a key part of the journey. 

The resounding impression I’ve formed is of how much energy, innovation and economic firepower resides here in Canberra and the wider Capital region. Economic data released with the ACT Budget is testimony to that, with our leading indicators and business investment leading Australia, a $40 billion economy outstripping Tasmania and the NT. We have more than our fair share of smart competitive businesses forging ahead in areas as diverse as digital services and making great food products. At the same time they need help. Better connectivity of research, business skills and product development is needed. Smart ways to skills people up into jobs and to be more innovative in workforce planning are in short supply. There are great opportunities for companies to invest here – including in light manufacturing – but the knowledge and awareness of the Canberra opportunity is low.

Two common questions I am asked is “what do you do?” and “why do we need an RDA in the ACT?” I answer by pointing to our successes: helping high functioning autistic people into meaningful, productive jobs in a local technology company; helping secure funding for agrifood businesses to take a serious plunge into exporting; and our work with a leading international company planning to make its R & D home here in the ACT. We have formed a working group looking seriously at regional food production and forging a strategy to incubate new food companies. Our biggest success is arguably establishing us as a trusted source of on the ground intelligence and a means of  engaging with the grassroots. I suppose those examples speak for themselves.

Our Committee, Meredith and I will now be turning our attention to finalising a new business plan for 2019-20. In early December we will open a major food industry event, the first of its kind for Canberra. You will hearing more about this in future newsletters.

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