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November 2016

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30 Nov

ACS Forum: Ministers and International Tech Experts Tackle GlobalICT Challenges

by launch-admin Nov 30, 2016 0 News

Sydney, 30 November 2016: The ACS, the professional association for Australia’s ICT sector, will bring key New South Wales and Victorian ministers together with international technology experts to tackle the most pressing global ICT challenges.


Held at the Hilton Hotel in Sydney’s CBD on Wednesday 30 November 2016, the ACS Ministerial Forum will host three exclusive panel discussions comparing Australian and international approaches to current ICT issues such as cybersecurity and eGovernment. The panels will canvass the regulatory, economic and business impacts of ICT developments, as well as the opportunities these offer Australia.


·       Panel One – Achieving Digital Utopia: How does the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT), algorithms and artificial intelligence create new opportunities and challenges never before seen?

·       Panel Two – eGovernment and Digital Leadership: NSW Minister for Innovation, the Hon. Victor Dominello MP, will join a panel discussing the evolving role of government as an influencer of innovation, technology adoption and economic growth.

·       Panel Three – Cyber Resilience, Global Approaches: Victorian Minister for Innovation, the Hon Philip Dalidakis MP, will join global experts to discuss how Australia can manage threats and take advantage of the $US639b[1] global cyber security market.

·       Release of ACS’ cybersecurity guide for businesses: The ACS will launch Cybersecurity: Threats, Challenges, Opportunities, an accessible guide for Australian businesses on a topic that is fast becoming mainstream. It identifies major cyber threats and outlines four pillars of cybersecurity readiness.


In addition to panel discussions, the forum will feature a special presentation by the winners of the 2016 Australia 3.0 ‘Wicked’ Policy Challenge on ICT Procurement and Open Data.


ACS President Anthony Wong said: “Australia is at a crossroads, as we move from a society already entwined with the internet to the coming age of automation, Big Data and the Internet of Things. As such, the ACS is very pleased to host international ICT experts and bring them together with Ministers Dalidakis and Dominello and our members, to address some of the most challenging ICT issues.


“The ACS has long played a leadership role in raising awareness of cyber threats. As technology continues to disrupt our world in new and different ways, cybersecurity issues will only grow in importance. Today’s launch of Cybersecurity: Threats, Challenges, Opportunities, is a timely guide for Australian businesses and consumers,” Mr Wong said.


The ACS presents today’s forum in collaboration with IFIP (The International Federation of Information Processing) and the Pearcey Foundation.  


Media are invited to register and attend the event. For more information about the forum or to RSVP please contact sarahjane@launchgroup.com.au.

Event details:


What: ACS Ministerial Forum


When: Wednesday, 30 November


Time: 8.15am until 4.30pm (registration opens at 8am)

For the timing of each panel session, see attached agendas.


Venue: The Hilton Hotel, 488 George Street, Sydney



·       For details of participants for each panel, please see attached agenda.

·       Panellists will be available to speak with media at the conclusion of each session.


ACS Guide ‘Cybersecurity: Threats, Challenges, Opportunities’: Key Insights

·       The cybersecurity industry is projected to be worth $US639b by 2023. However, Australia has only a small cybersecurity sector, with less vendors than France, Germany, Canada or India.

·       Less than six per cent of C-Suite executives in Australia think cybersecurity is a critical issue, indicating there is a disconnect between the reality of threats and the awareness of them at the executive level.

·       Unsecured devices, which can include webcams and IoT gadgets, are a major source for DDoS attacks (the type of attack which took down the Australian Bureau of Statistics eCensus website in August this year).

·       The average cost to an Australian business from cyber attack is $276,000. Globally, cyber attacks costs businesses as much as $US500b annually.

·       Demand for cybersecurity specialists has grown 57 per cent in the last year. At the same time, Australia faces a critical shortage of skilled ICT professionals to meet this demand.

·       Education and awareness are key factors for improving Australia’s cyber resilience across government, business, industry and the nation as a whole.





Further information

Sarah Jane Williams, Launch Group, 0409 362 675, sarahjane@launchgroup.com.au

Louise Proctor, Launch Group, 0452 574 244 louise@launchgroup.com.au


About the ACS

The ACS is the professional association for Australia’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector. Over 20,000 ACS members work in business, education, government and the community. The ACS exists to create the environment and provide the opportunities for members and partners to succeed. The ACS strives for ICT professionals to be recognised as drivers of innovation in our society, relevant across all sectors, and to promote the formulation of effective policies on ICT and related matters. Visit www.acs.org.au for more information.

28 Nov

StartupAUS Board welcomes Topaz Conway

by launch-admin Nov 28, 2016 0 News

Board member and investor, Teresa Engelhard, announced as Chair


Australia, 28 November 2016: StartupAUS, Australia’s peak advocacy group for startups, has appointed entrepreneur, angel investor and director Topaz Conway to the board of the organisation and announced existing board director and Redbubble investor, Teresa Engelhard, as Chairman.


Topaz Conway is Chair of Springboard Enterprises; a NFP Accelerator that helps women-led technology businesses achieve high growth, scale and investment. An active champion of Australia’s innovation culture, Ms Conway also works as an advisor to the Australian Government’s Accelerating Commercialisation program to help early stage businesses commercialise their technology.


Ms Conway’s international experience diving into various industries such as hi tech, biotech and ecommerce led to her roles as Chair of PAFtec Pty Ltd and Biothoughts, Director – NSW Council on Women’s Economic Opportunity, as well Telstra’s Industry Advisory Board.


StartupAUS CEO and Executive Director, Alex McCauley, said Ms Conway’s long-held commitment to the growth of early stage startups and her leadership within the diversity area brings great value to the board.  


“We are excited to welcome Topaz the StartupAUS board. Topaz is a passionate entrepreneur who is deeply committed to helping other Australian entrepreneurs succeed and to building a diverse startup ecosystem in Australia. We look forward to benefitting from the perspective Topaz will bring to the expert team within the StartupAUS board as we roll out a number of exciting initiatives in the coming 12 months.”


Commenting on her appointment, Ms Conway said, “I am delighted to join such an influential and passionate group who are creating real change to benefit the sector and the broader Australian economy. I strongly believe that the goals we share are critical but also achievable.”


Earlier this year RedBubble Non-Executive Director, Teresa Engelhard, was appointed to the StartupAUS board and has since been appointed Chairman – a rotating position that has been formerly been held by StartupAUS Founding Director & The Beanstalk Factory’s Co-Founder and CEO, Peter Bradd, as well as Engineering Director at Google, Alan Noble.


StartupAUS’ current focus is on establishing technology startups as the central part of the growth engine in Australia’s economy, picking up where the mining boom left off. Through policy work and fundraising, StartupAUS has been instrumental in shifting the political debate around innovation, particularly towards the policy settings outlined in the Prime Minister’s innovation statement – with many of the recommendations around technology and innovation coming from StartupAUS’ annual, action-oriented Crossroads Report to be launched at International Towers, Barangaroo on Thursday, December 1, 2016. 


Current StartupAUS board members are: Peter Bradd, Alan Noble, Bill Bartee, Glenn Smith, Andrew Larson, Wayne Gerard, Teresa Engelhard and StartupAUS CEO Alex McCauley as an Executive Director.




Media Contact

Louise Proctor louise@launchgroup.com.au 02 9492 1003 / 0452 574 244


About StartupAUS


StartupAUS is a not-for-profit entity with a mission to transform Australia through technology entrepreneurship. StartupAUS believes a strong home-grown tech sector is vital to future Australian jobs and wealth. But getting there will require a national imperative to create the right environment, with a supportive culture and more entrepreneurs with the right skills.


StartupAUS will expand its efforts to bring financial partners on-board to help corporates have a bigger voice in the emerging innovation conversation and assist StartupAUS in increasing its resources and activities ahead of this year’s election, as both sides of politics vie for innovative traction. The organisation’s current corporate partners include Salesforce and Google Australia. It also has a growing list of philanthropic benefactors including successful tech entrepreneur, Steve Baxter, Co-Chairman of CHAMP’s Board of Directors and Investment Committee, Bill Ferris, and Director and Co-Founder of Allen & Buckeridge, Roger Allen.


For more information, visit: www.startupaus.org  




28 Nov

The Horizon to release special edition directed by Priscilla’s Stephan Elliott

by launch-admin Nov 28, 2016 0 News
Australia’s most successful online drama series to launch full length TV pilot this World AIDS Day

Sydney, Australia, 28 November 2016 – Australian production company, Cobbstar Productions, today announced it will release a special edition, full length TV pilot of The Horizon online, directed by Stephan Elliott (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert), to coincide with World AIDS Day – 1 December 2016. A percentage of proceeds from all digital downloads during the month of December will be donated to ACON’s Red Ribbon Appeal to end HIV.

The hour long episode of The Horizon was created initially to promote the series to Australian and US broadcasters. Based on the lives and loves of gay men in Sydney, The Horizon is Cobbstar’s digital flagship series which has achieved notoriety in Australia and around the world. It is Australia’s most successful online drama and the world’s most watched gay web program. Since its debut in 2009, the series has spanned seven seasons with over 110,000 subscribers and 50 million views online.

Creator and writer of The Horizon, Boaz Stark, said, “I live in Sydney, one of the most vibrant gay cities in the world, and no one was telling our stories the way I see them. After seven years, the series is renowned for its realistic portrayals of Sydney’s LGBTQIA community. This year, we want to take this further and by releasing the TV movie on World AIDS Day, we hope to raise more awareness of the issues surrounding HIV and AIDS with our viewers.”

Producer, Brian Cobb of Cobbstar Productions, said, “The addition of acclaimed film director and screenwriter, Stephan Elliott, best known for his work on The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, has really brought the characters to a whole new, fabulous level. We went back to the start, re-making the first two seasons in order to link the entire online series with a consistent cast and quality level of production.”

Director, Stephan Elliott, commented, “I was ‘tickled pink’ to be able to step up to the director’s chair. Boaz Stark actually came to me five years ago for guidance on a small gay web series he was planning – who would have thought that this little online program would be such an important piece of content in the cultivation of identities of hundreds of thousands of people?”

Funded by Screen Australia, The Horizon is a leading voice in the gay community. The special edition, full length episode will be available online worldwide at https://www.hyvio.com/thehorizon on World AIDS Day – 1 December 2016.

To view the trailer, click here or copy and paste the link: https://www.hyvio.com/thehorizon/H0jd8yPU.

About The Horizon
Celebrating the lives and loves of Sydney’s gay, queer and alternative community, The Horizon is Cobbstar Productions’ digital flagship series which has achieved astounding notoriety in Australia and around the world. It is the most watched online series made out of Australia and the most watched gay web series in the world. It is the first Australian web series to go viral on the internet with over 110,000 subscribers and 50 million views online since debuting in 2009. For more information, visit www.thehorizon.tv.

About Cobbstar Productions
Cobbstar Productions is a Sydney-based company creating quality, innovative entertainment across Australia and internationally. Developing its own projects from concept, Cobbstar Productions produces progressive films and television, with a strong focus on cutting-edge content for the ever-evolving digital platforms. Cobbstar Productions is emerging as a leader in the digital content space with its flagship series The Horizon and was recently awarded the City of Sydney Cultural Grant for occupancy of the former Metro Screen space, located in Paddington Town Hall. For more information, visit www.cobbstarproductions.com.

About World AIDS Day
World AIDS day raises awareness around the world about the issues surrounding HIV and AIDS. It is a day for people to show their support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate all those that have suffered from one of the world’s most prevalent still-incurable diseases. A percentage of proceeds from all digital downloads during the month of December will be donated to ACON’s Red Ribbon Appeal to end HIV. For more information, visit www.worldaidsday.org.au  and www.redribbonappeal.org.au.

23 Nov

Community housing to save on bills with renewable energy

by launch-admin Nov 23, 2016 0 News

Renewable energy tech company, Evergen, partners with SGCH

to provide clean energy systems to social and affordable housing communities


Australia, 23 November 2016: Renewable energy tech company Evergen today announced an Australian first, pilot program with leading community housing organisation, SGCH, which will see the installation of the Evergen intelligent home energy system in 10 low income households in New South Wales.


Evergen (backed by the CSIRO and investment leader AMP Capital) launched the nation’s first remotely-managed intelligent renewable energy centre for domestic use. Evergen combines the strength of solar and batteries with intelligent technology, allowing SGCH tenants to reduce their energy bills by up to 80 per cent. The pilot project – the first of its kind nationally – is co-funded by the Office of Environment, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and SGCH to deliver an innovative solution for social and affordable housing tenants.


The systems, to be installed in October 2016, will have solar PV’s installed on the roofs and the batteries installed in a common, purpose built shed. Each property will have its own Evergen intelligent home energy management system, allowing the systems to be tailored to each user’s specific needs to maximise their savings.


Commenting on the initiative, renowned energy scientist and Evergen CEO, Dr Glenn Platt, said: “The Evergen system has the capability for SGCH tenants to save significant amounts off their household energy costs. As well as reducing energy costs, we hope that by providing the tenants with more information about how they consume energy via the Evergen app, we can empower them to better manage how they use energy. This is a piece of technology that we see as vital in the future of community housing and we are excited to be at the forefront of this.”


CEO of SGCH Group, Scott Langford, said low income households spend more of their household budget on essentials such as energy. The results of thispilot project will provide valuable information on the benefits for households that are more vulnerable to rising energy costs.


People on low incomes are struggling the most with the rising cost of living including high energy costs. Many social housing tenants have high energy consumption: as a share of household income, low income households spend three times what high-income households spend on in-home energy**. It is these people who would benefit the most from energy saving measures in their homes, but who can not afford the large up front costs of items like solar panels.


“SGCH is committed to sustainable housing design, ensuring tenants who are vulnerable to rising energy costs can benefit from savings now and in the future. We are excited to work with Evergen to offer our tenants cutting edge technology that will make a real difference to their energy bills, health and wellbeing,” Mr Langford said.



The Evergen intelligent home energy system learns the power consumption patterns of each customer household and forecasts solar production based on analysis of local weather to build a picture of future energy flows to make smart decisions that reduce energy costs.  


The company has selected battery hardware provided by one of the world’s leading manufacturers, Alpha ESS, who has worked collaboratively with Evergen to develop its intelligent energy system.


Managing Director of Alpha ESS Australia, Mr Dong Lin, said: “Alpha ESS has always been committed to providing superior quality battery systems, and we are particularly proud to be associated with this project with SGCG, which brings the benefits of energy technology to people who would not ordinarily be able to afford the upfront cost.”



*Based on Evergen trial customer results. Actual savings will depend on system size, electricity consumption and tariff rates.

**ABS 4670.0 Household Energy Consumption Survey




Media Contact: louise@launchgroup.com.au | 02 9492 1003 | 0452 574 244


About Evergen:

Evergen is a new energy services company that sells and manages intelligent home energy systems comprising solar power and batteries. The ’intelligence’ technology is provided by the CSIRO, which periodically analyses and remotely updates the system to improve over time. AMP Capital is a major investor in the company alongside CSIRO.


Evergen is run by energy scientists and advocates of change for clean solar and battery storage technologies for the home. The Evergen team includes renowned energy scientist and CEO Dr Glenn Platt and former CEO of AMP Capital and Evergen Chairman Stephen Dunne.


About SGCH:

SGCH is a leading not-for-profit community housing provider with over 30 years’ experience in developing and managing sustainable, safe and affordable homes and connecting people to opportunity.


Recognised as one of the largest Community Housing Providers in Australia, SGCH houses over 8,500 people in 4,300 homes across the Sydney Metropolitan Region.


Our pioneering partnerships with government agencies, community groups and support services allow us to increase the number of good quality homes in the places we work and connect people to training, education, employment and community engagement opportunities.


15 Nov

ingogo partners with Qantas Frequent Flyer to help passengers travel even further

by launch-admin Nov 15, 2016 0 News

ingogo partners with Qantas Frequent Flyer to help passengers travel even further 

Qantas Frequent Flyer members will earn extra points booking taxis through ingogo

Australia, 15 November, 2016: Australia’s innovative taxi booking application, ingogo, and Qantas Frequent Flyer, have today announced a partnership that will allow Frequent Flyer members to earn one Qantas Point per dollar spent on taxis booked through the ingogo app.

To start earning, Qantas Frequent Flyer members simply need to save their membership number into the ingogo app.

Users can book their taxi ride up to 48 hours in advance, which will benefit those travelling to and from the airport in particular, enabling them to skip airport queues or have to flag a last-minute cab on the day.

Furthermore, users can better budget the trip, with ingogo’s Australian-first Fixed Fares system letting them know exactly how much they’ll pay for the journey before even getting into the taxi.

“Qantas has 11.5 million Frequent Flyer members,” said Hamish Petrie, ingogo founder and CEO. “In other words, around half the Australian population can now start earning Qantas Points simply by using the ingogo app and taxis to get around.

“While they can earn Qantas Points on any ingogo journey, catching a taxi to the airport and back is an integral part of the travelling experience for many Qantas Frequent Flyers, so it makes sense to be earning them on that part of the trip too,” Petrie added.

The Qantas Frequent Flyer partnership will also be integrated into ingogo’s business solution that enables corporates to save up to 20 per cent on employee taxi travel, along with streamlined expense management processing.

Qantas Loyalty CEO Lesley Grant added: “Whether it’s on the ground or inflight, we’re always looking at giving our members more opportunities to be rewarded.

“Qantas Frequent Flyers already have lots of ways to earn points through their everyday spend, as well as when they’re on holiday or a business trip. Using the ingogo app and benefitting from its Fixed Fare feature, our members will know exactly how many they’ll be earning before they’ve even begun their journey.”

Qantas Frequent Flyers can use the ingogo app on their iPhone and Android devices.

To celebrate the partnership, members will earn 250 Qantas Points on each of their first three ingogo trips[i] taken before 31 March 2017.

– Ends – 

Media Contacts:

Sarah Bond sarahbond@launchgroup.com.au 02 9492 1041 or 0449 543 181

Qantas Media +61 418 210 005, qantasmedia@qantas.com.au

About ingogo:

ingogo is an integrated mobile booking and payments company, currently in the Taxi and SME markets in Australia. Its mobile app assists private and corporate customers to easily book and pay for taxis through their mobile phones. It allows passengers to communicate directly with registered taxi drivers in their local area, see where their driver is and their estimated arrival time. It currently operates in Sydney and Melbourne, and has recently launched in Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

ingogo has extended its payment platform into other industries beyond taxis, for business owners and SMEs, via an integration with Xero, the leading cloud accounting platform.

In May 2016, ingogo became Australia’s first taxi booking application to switch from metered fares to a transparent, Fixed Fares model.

[i] Members will earn 250 Qantas Points for each of these three journeys with ingogo instead of the one Qantas Point per one dollar spent on the fare during the offer period.

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3 Nov

The ACS welcomes Government’s Digital Solutions draft curriculum as step in the right direction

by launch-admin Nov 3, 2016 0 News


Recommendations from ACS will help enhance effectiveness of new program

Brisbane, 3 November 2016 – The ACS – the professional association for Australia’s ICT sector – welcomes the intent behind the Queensland Government’s draft QCAA ‘Digital Solutions’ ATAR curriculum presented at the Association’s inaugural Access IT Conference, saying the state is showing real leadership in recognising the impact that digital and technology will have on future workforces.


Exclusively presented as part of the Education Panel on day-two of ACS Queensland’s AccessIT Conference – which brought together key leaders in ICT to discuss its future, as well as showcase Queensland’s growing global hub of ICT businesses, talent and industry collaborators – it was concluded the initiative will better prepare today’s youth for the hugely disrupted workforce in the years ahead.


The new Digital Solutions curriculum is a complete overhaul to the existing ICT courses being taught at schools currently for Year 11 and 12 students.


Ross Medina, ACS Queensland State Manager, said: “As a Computer Science course it has great potential. It has a comprehensive coding focus in Unit One (of four units), and other coding related areas such as design, User Interface (UI), addressing user requirements (UX), which is good to see. 


“Unit Two looks at applications and data, while Unit Three looks at the critical topic of the practical application of IT, from the Internet of Things, to robotics, game development, computer generated media and virtual reality. Finally, Unit Four will consider the impact of the digital, with coursework focused around security, Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning,” he said.


Overall, the coursework will be comprehensive, and give students with and without aptitude for coding a baseline understanding of the roles that they might have in future STEM-based career paths.


The ACS has a number of recommendations that would help enhance the effectiveness of the program:


1)     An increased focus on ethics. With automation predicted to replace over 40 per cent of jobs in the next five to 10 years, the ongoing discussion around human values and ethics needs to be kept top-of-mind, and taught at an early age.

2)     The Digital Solutions draft prescribes Problem-Based Learning as the active approach. The ACS recommends this to be complementary to Real-World Project-Based Learning. Taught exclusively, Problem-Based Learning risks providing insufficient critical thinking, complex communication and creative thinking skills. Grounding the program better in the real world will also help motivation and engagement levels.

3)     The addition of coursework in the development of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) would be a good fit for the syllabus.


Mr Medina continued: “The biggest issue that we see with the module is not an appropriate course for the majority of senior students. Based on the current enrolment figures for Information Processes and Technology, we cannot expect more than 10 to 20 per cent of students to enrol in this currently non-mandatory subject.


“Comparing Mathematics in the new ATAR curriculum, we have four subjects to be offered: Mathematics Essentials; Mathematics General; Mathematics Methods; and Mathematics Specialist. Under a similar classification we could see these as Mathematical Literacy (Essentials); Mathematical Fluency (General) and Mathematical Mastery (Methods & Specialist). This clearly caters for the range of skills and aptitudes, and even to some degree, student interests and future career aspirations


“In very stark contrast, the QCAA will be offering only a Digital Mastery course, yet no courses within the ATAR set of subjects. Why in an increasing digital world, based very strongly on IT, are we looking at offering four Maths; four English and four Science subjects to cater for this range of skill development; aptitudes and interests, but only one IT subject.”




Further information

Louise Proctor, Launch Group, 0452 574 244 louise@launchgroup.com.au


About the ACS

The ACS is the professional association for Australia’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector. Over 20,000 ACS members work in business, education, government and the community. The ACS exists to create the environment and provide the opportunities for members and partners to succeed. The ACS strives for ICT professionals to be recognised as drivers of innovation in our society, relevant across all sectors, and to promote the formulation of effective policies on ICT and related matters. Visit www.acs.org.au for more information.