February 22, 2024

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Australian Budget: Major Funding Boost for Tech Capabilities

In its Budget for October 2022–23, the Australian government has set aside funding for initiatives aimed at strengthening Australia’s strategic capabilities, including in digital technologies. This funding aims to create significant investment opportunities across several critical sectors, including resources, renewables, low-emission, and critical technologies.

Boosting Australia’s key capabilities

The Government has committed significant funds to boost Australia’s capabilities in critical sectors. These include:

  • AU$15 billion for the National Reconstruction Fund (NRF): The Government has committed an initial AU$50 million over 2 years to establish the NRF. The NRF will support co-investments in various sectors over 7 years. These include investments in resources; agriculture, forestry and fisheries; transport; medical science; renewables and low-emission technologies; and defence. The NRF will start from 2023–24.
  • AU$141.1 million over 10 years to establish carbon capture technologies for net zero and negative emissions.
  • AU$13.5 million to strengthen policy capability to identify and support critical and emerging technologies.
  • AU$20 billion to upgrade Australia’s electricity grid to connect with renewable energy sources.

Enhancing network connectivity

The Budget has also earmarked major funding to improve network connectivity across Australia. The funds include:

  • AU$2.4 billion for the National Broadband Network (NBN), expanding full-fibre access to 1.5 million premises by 2025. This will deliver a faster and more reliable network to advance Australia’s digital economy, businesses, and communities.
  • AU$1.2 billion for the Better Connectivity for Regional and Rural Australia Plan. This includes $400 million for mobile base stations and $200 million for the Regional Connectivity Program.

Strengthening cyber security and bolstering quantum technology

The government prioritises cyber security. To this end, the Budget includes AU$31.3 million for Cyber Hubs to strengthen the Government’s cyber resilience and security capabilities. The Government has also set aside AU$4.8 million over 4 years to bolster the development of quantum technology. This includes funding for 20 PhD scholarships and collaboration by universities.

Updated market projections released by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, have shown that quantum technology is forecast to reach AU$6 billion and generate more than 19,000 jobs in Australia by 2045.

CSIRO’s original Growing Australia’s Quantum Technology Industry Roadmap has been updated two years on and reflects the growth trajectory of quantum technology across the report’s three key domains of quantum computing, sensing and measurement, and communications.

The new report provides conservative estimates and refinements of the original modelling and extends the forecast from 2040 to 2045 while affirming the economic results from the earlier report.

A Senior Economist at CSIRO stated that the updated figures reflected recent domestic and global developments in quantum technology opportunities. He noted that CSIRO’s updated modelling reaffirms that quantum technology continues to be a significant opportunity for Australia in the years to come.

While uncertainty remains regarding how quantum technology will be commercialised both around the world and domestically, the start-up funding and investment in quantum is encouraging, he added.

Key updated figures from the economic modelling show that by 2030, Australia’s quantum technology opportunity in revenue terms could conservatively reach AU$2.2 billion and could generate 8,700 jobs. In five years, this could rise to reach AU$3.3 billion by 2035, and then reach AU$4.6 billion by 2040.


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