Business bulletin: 16 May 2019

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Man in lab coat looking in a microscope

The message that the Territory is open for business is further cemented with applications for the multi-million dollar Local Jobs Fund now open.

The $89 million co-investment fund is aimed at creating more local jobs and accelerating major and significant projects in the Territory. The fund will run for two years or until it is fully committed.

Territory businesses will be able to get projects investment ready, undertake detailed feasibility studies, leverage private sector finance and investment and reach financial close.

The fund will target transformative economic projects to help potential high-growth Territory businesses to increase export of goods and services interstate and internationally.

Businesses and projects in the Territory’s 10 growth and developing sectors, a related supply or service sector or other sector in which the Territory has a comparative advantage will be eligible to apply.

Territory growth sectors are: agribusiness, tourism, energy and minerals, international education and training, defence and defence support industries.

Territory developing sectors are: tropical health and research, creative industries, renewable energy, environmental services, human services

Businesses will also have to demonstrate that government financial assistance:

  • is necessary for the project to proceed
  • will be at least matched by new private sector funding
  • will result in new or increased goods and services exported interstate or overseas.

The Local Jobs Fund suite of programs include:

  • Loan Guarantees ($100,000 to $5 million each) - to support fast-growing Territory businesses to expand and create new Territory jobs. The guarantee will be issued in favour of lending institutions and provide funds for appropriate investments, including for the expansion of production capacity or export capability development.
  • Business Investment Concessional Loans ($100,000 to $3 million each) - to de-risk project opportunities, bring forward private investment and deliver projects to final investment.
  • Equity Co-Investments ($100,000 to $5 million each) - to provide equity capital to high potential and innovative Territory ventures to secure funding and accelerate business development and growth into national and global markets.
  • Grants:
    • Priority Sector Collaborative Grants ($100,000 to $1 million) - provide funding for consortia within Territory priority growth and developing sectors to collaboratively progress sector-wide initiatives which will advance local industry capability, innovation and business development.
    • Infrastructure Grants ($1 million to $10 million each) - for economically transformational projects which clearly demonstrate that new and enduring Territory jobs will be delivered and that broader benefits to the Territory which result in a step-increase in economic activity and output. Infrastructure grants will be selected through a separate open competitive process.

The Territory Government will establish an Investment Committee comprised of representatives from the private sector with strong experience in investment banking, finance, legal and commercial sectors. Discussions are underway with eminently qualified candidates, with the Investment Committee to be appointed shortly.

The Investment Committee will provide advice to the Territory, including ministers, in the assessment of applications and on investment recommendations.

The Local Jobs Fund was established with the wind up of the NT Infrastructure Development Fund.

For more information and to apply go to the Local Jobs Fund website.

Reception area at new Project Sea Dragon headquarters in Darwin

The Project Sea Dragon headquarters has opened in Darwin, signalling the next significant step for the project.

The office is centrally located in the Darwin CBD and will support the developing Project Sea Dragon operations in the Northern Territory, including the stage 1 Legune Station Grow-Out Facility, a Broodstock Maturation Centre at Bynoe Harbour and a hatchery at Gunn Point.

Seafarms’ Managing Director Dr Chris Mitchell said opening an office in Darwin shows the confidence the company has in the project which is now shovel-ready with all environmental and Aboriginal approvals in place.

“Project Sea Dragon has the potential to be the world’s biggest prawn aquaculture project and we are confident the Northern Territory will benefit from this project, through creation of sustainable jobs and by diversifying the local economy,” Dr Mitchell said.

“Opening an office in the Darwin CBD will add to the life of the city and serve as a support hub for our local operations,”

“Developing a major project that creates a new industry for northern Australia requires strong partnerships between the private sector, government and the community,”

“The willingness of the Territory Government to invoke its major project program and agree to a Project Development Agreement with the company has been critical in the company taking this step,”

“The company also thanks the native title holders of Legune, the Miriwoong and Gajerrong people, the Northern Land Council and the Larrakia people, whose willingness to talk to Seafarms and where needed reach agreement with them is much appreciated.”

Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the office opening is a vote of confidence for Project Sea Dragon, for the Territory and for Darwin.

“Project Sea Dragon will create up to 1,500 jobs at full scale, and will help diversify the Territory’s economy by delivering a new industry for Australia,” Mr Gunner said.

“We are investing more than $56 million in supporting roadworks and will continue to facilitate this massive job-creating project.”

Approvals have been obtained for the first stage of the project which comprises breeding facilities across three sites and three farms containing some 1,000 hectares of grow-out ponds at Legune Station near the Western Australia border.

Ultimately Project Sea Dragon has the potential to produce more than 100,000 tonnes of Black Tiger Prawns a year for export and at full scale the project would create an estimated 1,500 direct jobs in northern Australia.

Both Seafarms and government sponsored infrastructure support projects commenced in the dry season of 2018.

Seafarms has a market capitalisation of over $180 million and is currently Australia’s largest producer of farmed prawns, with significant operational aquaculture expertise and a demonstrated track record of growth and innovation.

Three employees of Outback Stores

Outback Stores understands the benefits of entering the NT Training Awards.

The not-for-profit company was the runner-up Medium Employer of the Year at last year’s awards.

Outback Stores Training and Engagement Manager Adam Wells says the success ‘significantly helped’ in raising awareness of the business.

“Since being recognised, we have received great support and engagement through social media channels from the public and within industry on how we work with and support Aboriginal people on their learning journey and ultimately a career path.”

He urges Territorians to enter the awards this year.

“The benefits from the application through to the awards ceremony have been really positive.

“It’s been a great chance to learn more about ourselves as well as networking and learning from other successful students and organisations.”

Nominations, which are open to companies, trainers, trainees and apprentices, close at 5pm on 26 May 2019.

The NT Training Awards are run by the Territory Government’s Department of Trade, Business and Innovation.

There are 13 categories.

Individual categories are:

  • Trainee of the Year
  • Austin Asche Apprentice of the Year
  • Vocational Student of the Year
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year
  • School-Based Apprentice or Trainee of the Year
  • VET in Schools Student of the Year
  • VET Teacher / Trainer of the Year
  • International Vocational Student of the Year.

Organisation categories are :

  • Training Provider of the Year
  • Industry Collaboration Award
  • Small Employer of the Year
  • Medium Employer of the Year
  • Large Employer of the Year.

The winners will be announced at a gala awards night at the Darwin Convention Centre on 21 September 2019.

Tickets will go on sale mid-July.

For more information, read NT Training Awards.

Outback Stores aim to make a positive difference in the health, employment and economy of remote Aboriginal communities through their sustainable retail stores.

The company supports 37 Aboriginal-owned stores in the Territory, Western Australia and South Australia.

“As a registered training organisation, we pride ourselves on consistently high standard of delivery in a complex and challenging environment,” says Mr Wells.

Eligible store staff and managers can take a Certificate I, II, III and IV in Retail with 65% of Aboriginal staff studying for some form of retail certificate.

“By providing formal training for employees we will continue to improve capability, grow Aboriginal jobs, improve the economic environment in remote communities and further develop a diverse cross-cultural workplace culture that delivers on our mission.

“Over 10 years we have ingrained a culture where formal training and development is the stepping stone to building a successful career.

“Skills that our trainees develop through obtaining qualifications are not only retail specific but are also transferable to others, supporting Aboriginal people building strong careers and futures in their chosen career path.

Les O'brien holding his invention, the Turbofan

Long-term Territorian Les O’Brien came up with one of the quirkiest - but useful - inventions in the Northern Territory after what he calls a ‘light bulb moment’.

He was pouring with sweat while working ‘out bush’ with beekeeper Andrew Shugg of Bees Creek Honey when he asked himself: ‘There must be a way to cool down.’

Les went home and invented the Turbofan at his kitchen table in Howard Springs on the outskirts of Darwin.

He says the ventilator - a 12‑volt fan the size of two packets of cigarettes and weighing less than one kilogram, including battery - can be used to relieve heat stress.

While originally designed for serious outdoor work, Les believes the Turbofan is also effective in a vast range of jobs, from roofers to gardeners, from plumbers to racing car drivers.

The basic model delivers a flow of fresh air inside the shirt void and an air-conditioned model draws air through a camel back filled with dry ice for extreme conditions.

“I can see hundreds of uses for it,” he says.

Les has received two grants under the Territory Government’s popular Business Innovation Support Initiatives (BISI) program.

The first was used to prove the prototypes and to ensure intellectual property rights through a patent application.

The second will be used to move the prototypes into a more robust and streamlined style to enable large-scale manufacture.

Les says the ‘enormous support and motivation’ provided by the BISI grants had enabled his innovation to move rapidly from idea to the cusp of production.

“The BISI program assisted me with accessing sound practical advice and part funding to ensure intellectual property protection and progress through the patenting hurdles, which is all preparatory to getting an idea into production and onto the market.”

Les is now looking for an investor to mass produce Turbofan.

“It won’t work as a cottage industry,” he says. “It needs mass production in a country such as China to keep costs down and have an affordable product.”

The BISI helps Northern Territory businesses undertake research and development that could lead to new products, processes or services.

Projects are supported in science, engineering, technology and design.

Grants can be awarded for:

  • conducting knowledge searches - scientific, technical, and intellectual property
  • developing experimental plans with researchers
  • research and development activities and trials
  • feasibility studies
  • building prototypes
  • obtaining patents
  • accessing specialist research facilities.

The innovation voucher scheme is open year round and provides up to 60% support for eligible projects. Each voucher is worth up to $25,000, exclusive of GST. For more information, go to the Northern Territory Government website.

Or contact the Department of Trade, Business and Innovation by phone 08 8999 6643 or email innovation@nt.gov.au

Renovated house in remote community

Businesses in the Territory’s building and construction industry are encouraged to attend a forum next month about the rollout of major investments in the Territory’s remote housing sector.

The Territory Government’s Department of Local Government, Housing and Community Development is hosting its annual industry forum on the $1.1 billion Remote Housing Investment Package - Our Community. Our Future. Our Homes.

The forum is designed for industry and Aboriginal business enterprises working in remote housing across the Northern Territory.

Businesses can speak to Territory Government agencies and learn more about program progress, business support programs, procurement, and work opportunities. The forum provides an opportunity to network and promote your business.

Register by 11 June 2019 for the Our Community. Our Future. Our Homes industry forum.

The forum is being held on Thursday 13 and Friday 14 June 2019 at the Darwin Convention Centre, Stokes Hill Road, Darwin. It is a free event.

To register and for more information go to the Department of Local Government, Housing and Community Development website or phone 08 8999 3997.

OBM event partner registrations are open, obm.nt.gov.au

Last updated: 27 June 2019

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