The ACT’s new Innovation Partnerships Program is in full swing, facilitated in large part by former local Senator Kate Lundy, who was appointed the Territory’s Local Industry Advocate last December.
The program, which is part of a series of local business initiatives from Chief Minister Andrew Barr, gives Canberra-based small to medium enterprises a direct opportunity to engage with government and put their businesses forward for procurement opportunities. It also gives directorates access to innovative ideas and technologies that they might not have discovered through typical procurement processes.
Ms Lundy says it’s all about helping small companies get in touch with the right people and helping directorates find these innovative companies.
“So far it’s going really well and we’ve had a number of companies get some traction within ACT government,” she says.
“This is fantastic for government, who gain access to new and innovative commercial solutions, and also for the companies, who secure important commercial opportunities which act as an excellent credential if they choose to expand their business interstate and overseas.”
One such company is SmartWard, a Canberra-based business with a system that cuts time spent on hospital paperwork from 14 minutes to just two – allowing staff to spend significantly more time with patients.
Matt Darling, Chief Systems Architect of SmartWard, says working with Ms Lundy to develop an Innovation Partnership has been great.
“Our trials proved that clinical staff were thrilled with the capabilities of the system, and its ability to help them spend more time on patient care by reducing admin burdens through automation,” he says.
“But purchasing by hospitals involves a complex set of stakeholders – clinicians, administrators, technical experts, regulators and so forth. It’s hard for a small company to navigate through this.
“Kate helped us reach the spectrum of stakeholders, which led to an evaluation of SmartWard. In understanding its unique value, a pilot is now underway in the Canberra Hospital.”
Ms Lundy says it’s an exciting time for local business owners, who now have unprecedented access to support channels helping them grow, network and expand their business efforts.
It’s also a personally rewarding and exciting endeavour for the former politician.
“Playing this role in Canberra is not only fulfilling, but an enormous privilege, Ms Lundy says.
“Change and innovation happen because people keep talking to each other. And for me, it’s about facilitating those conversations.”
The ACT business directorate is also currently working on the Local Industry Participation Policy; consulting with a range of stakeholders across government and industry about how to effectively improve the participation of local businesses in government procurement contracts.
For more information about the Innovation Partnerships Program, visit Innovate Canberra.