News and Insights 2 MIN READ

The NBN has announced a partnership with the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) to launch a grants program aiming to foster innovation across Australia.

The $150,000 program, Grow with NBN, will distribute three major grants of $25,000 and six minor grants of $10,000 to organisations that are “innovatively” using the nbn for their activities in the fields of business, community, or education. Another $15,000 will be awarded to the NBN staff choice.

John Simon, chief customer officer at NBN, said the program looks to celebrate the “innovation powerhouses” that are Australia’s small to medium businesses and organisations.

Rob Fitzpatrick, chief executive officer of the AIIA, added that the program fits in with the organisation’s mission to tell the stories of organisations using technology to innovate and communicate more effectively.

“Small and medium-sized business and community organisations drive a significant part of our economy and services, and high speed access through the nbn provides them an opportunity to create new business models, improve efficiency, and get closer to the customer,” he said.

“We are eager to unearth stories about organisations that are using their nbn connectivity to drive growth, help their communities or improve learning outcomes. By sharing ideas, innovations and best practices, we can help everyone benefit and improve, which will lead to greater success across the board.”

Regional businesses have a good leg to stand on when it comes to doing interesting things through the NBN. While there are still issues with NBN connectivity in rural areas, this is partly due to geography, with 70 percent of the three million Australian premises currently with NBN access located in regional and non-metro Australia.

Data from the NBN Broadband Index, released in October, found that nine percent of NBN-connected internet users in regional areas are using services over the network to sell products and services, or to source business opportunities.

Thirty percent of internet users connected to the NBN also stated that the internet is vital to their job or business.

Grow with NBN is not the only small business grant program to be announced recently, however, with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announcing earlier this month the government would be doubling the $10,000 Back to Work program to spur regional businesses who hire unemployed youths.

The Back to Work ‘Youth Boost’ program, set to open on December 1, will offer regional businesses $20,000 to hire unemployed people aged between 15-24.

Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt first announced the $100 million Back to Work scheme in this year’s state budget, offering $10,000 to businesses who took on an unemployed worker and $15,000 when they hired a long-term unemployed worker.

“Our resolve to drive down regional youth unemployment is unwavering which is why we’re offering a specific bonus to regional businesses who hire young people,” he said.

“Everyone in our community is concerned about young people being out of work and needing new opportunities for their futures.”

Applications for Grow with NBN close in February.

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