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Campus News : December 2011
6 Campus News December 2011 University of Wollongong www.uow.edu.au Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the University of Wollongong's status as the largest producer of IT graduates in Australia had played a key role in the decision to make Wollongong one of the next centres in Australia to be connected to the National Broadband Network. The Prime Minister was on campus at UOW's SMART Infrastructure Facility on 18 October, where she announced a national rollout plan for the NBN for the next 12 months that will include more than 10,000 homes and businesses in the Wollongong and Dapto areas. The NBN's fibre optic network will provide internet access up to 100 times faster than existing services, providing a major boost to the region's emerging technology-based industries and other businesses that use the internet to generate income. Ms Gillard predicted 500 jobs would be created in the construction phase, but said the long-term benefits of high-speed broadband would bring the biggest benefits to the region. "The NBN is important to the nation, and important here locally," Ms Gillard said. "We were at risk that other nations would have had this technology and we would have fallen behind." She said the Illawarra was "a region that is re-designing its future" in the wake of the announcement in August that BlueScope Steel was shedding 1100 jobs, and that connecting Wollongong to the NBN would open up new economic opportunities. "The NBN is a huge opportunity for a place as innovative and resilient as the Illawarra," Ms Gillard said. "This will make a big difference to the region immediately, and in the future. Clearly we are wanting to bring jobs to the region -- not just direct jobs PM acknowledges UOW's role in broadband rollout The University of Wollongong and Wollongong City Council have joined together to launch StartPad, a space to allow entrepreneurs to grow and develop ideas into successful businesses. Trade and Investment NSW, Regional Development Australia (RDA) Illawarra and Enterprise Connect are also supporting StartPad, which is based at 93 Crown Street, Wollongong. It has been established to provide young entrepreneurs with inexpensive accommodation, mentoring support, peer support and access to networks of people with ideas they would like to see developed into businesses. UOW Research and Innovation Division Commercialisation Manager Dr Tamantha Stutchbury believes that StartPad represents a turning point in the development of a new industry profile for the Illawarra and will act as an ideas incubator. "The initiative delivers a unique and alternative opportunity to graduating university students and local entrepreneurs," she said. Wollongong Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery said Council was delighted to support StartPad by providing the office space. StartPad an incubator for new businesses "This development shows that Wollongong is able to move away from traditional industries into a world where companies and entrepreneurs can work on the in construction of the NBN, but future jobs," she said. "There will be generations over time of new businesses that will come into being here because of the speed of the broadband. And the region will work in partnership with this great university. "The presence of the University has been of significance in this decision. This (rollout to Wollongong and Dapto) has been put forward in part because of the work being done here (at UOW), training more IT graduates than anywhere else in Australia." development of innovative applications and tools to deliver new businesses and employment opportunities," Cr Bradbery said. "Council is keen to see this area of the city used to support entrepreneurs who have ideas and foresight. This is an opportune time to support a dynamic growth industry in our city." Cr Bradbery said the entrepreneurial drive, vision and creativity of people wishing to locate at StartPad would ensure that their fledgling businesses are able to get off to a good start in a wonderful location. "This is an important step in supporting an identified key growth area in the city," he said. UOW Innovation and Technology Team and Commercial Research Unit Director Elizabeth Eastland said the initiative was a key element in the development of a dynamic and sustainable business ecosystem. "It will provide a pipeline into the iAccelerate Centre which has been proposed for the University's Innovation Campus," she said. JB The inaugural 12-month NBN national construction outlook follows the high- speed broadband rollout in eight pilot areas around Australia in the last year, including Kiama Downs/Minnamurra in the Illawarra. UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerard Sutton thanked Ms Gillard for supporting the region in difficult times. "You said you would be standing with the people of the Illawarra (after the BlueScope announcement), and two visits to the Illawarra in two months shows you were genuine," Professor Sutton said. NH Prime Minister Julia Gillard hosts the NBN media conference at UOW, flanked by (from left) Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird, Member for Throsby Stephen Jones and Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Minister Anthony Albanese. Left to right: Kirstan Fulton (Trade and Investment NSW), Brenden Logue (Wollongong City Council), Joanna Kubota (Global Solutions Strategies), Eddy De Gabriele (RDA Illawarra), Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery, Elizabeth Eastland (UOW) and Dr Tamantha Stutchbury (UOW) at the StartPad opening.