South Australia seeks to lure space agency

State budget funds Australian Space Innovation Precinct

South Australia’s government has set aside funding to develop the ‘Australian Space Innovation Precinct’ at Lot Fourteen (the former Royal Adelaide Hospital site) as part its efforts to lure the Australian Space Agency to the state.

The state budget, handed down today provides $200,000 in 2018-19 and a further $356,000 a year over three years from 2019-20.

The site will be developed to make it “a perfect location to house the Australian Space Agency, as well as other key space sector organisations,” budget documents state.

The federal government in September announced it would establish a national space agency as part of a push to boost the domestic space industry.

This year’s federal budget included $41 million over four years from 2018-19 to “grow the Australian space industry,” including  $26 million to help launch the agency which will “coordinate domestic space activities for Australia”.

The agency formally began operating on 1 July.

(The federal government has also earmarked $15 million from 2019-20 to launch the International Space Investment project, which will provide grants to “strategic space projects”.)

The SA government said it would scrap the South Australian Early Commercialisation Fund and wind down TechInSA, instead funding a “new model of entrepreneurship in South Australia” that “will see the establishment of an innovation, start-up and growth hub,” also at Lot Fourteen.

The innovation and commercialisation precinct will involve Renewal SA undertaking capital works worth $43.9 million to refit and repurpose seven buildings at Lot Fourteen. The government said it would provide rental subsidies worth $4.8 million over the forward estimates for 650 startup spaces in the precinct.

A new ‘Research, Commercialisation and Start-up Fund’ worth $27.9 million across the forward estimates will be “established through a refocussing of previous grant programs” and “support South Australian businesses to collaborate with researchers and universities to solve industrial problems, commercialise new products and services and attract research infrastructure investment into the state, as well as to encourage the establishment and growth of start-ups.”

The state government will also put $100,000 a year from 2018-19 towards a pilot of a new visa scheme for “budding entrepreneurs,” aiming to issue up to 30 visas in the first year of the program.

The government also revealed it would save $69.9 million by scrapping the state’s laptop for students program, which would have funded notebooks for every Year 10 student in public schools.

“The department will not be proceeding with this initiative, with funding to be reallocated to other educational priorities,” budget documents state.

Other budget measures include:

• $4.2 million over two years to upgrade the SA Computer Aided Dispatch system (SACAD).

• $9 million over two years to upgrade security systems at the Northfield Prison site to digital electronic security systems.

• $950,000 for a mobile phone jamming pilot targeting prisons.

• $5.5 million in 2019-20, and $1 million a from 2020-21 for real-time prescription monitoring, and a $6.9 million over three years in support for the Australian Digital Health Agency.

• $2.6 million in 2018-19 and ongoing funding of $866 000 a year from 2019-20 for a replacement to Alert SA.

• $190,000 in 2018-19 to equip surf life saving clubs with drones for shark spotting.

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