When opportunity knocks, answer the door

Rork Projects began in a spare room in an apartment block in a Canberra suburb.

Some 20 years on, we’ve maintained and valued our strong links and ties to the Capital.

While we’ve opened other offices across the country, our head office will always be in Canberra. For us, Canberra gave us opportunities within our sector that we grabbed with both hands.

For State and Territory Governments, it’s not often that  a billion dollar industry comes knocking at your door – especially those that have a global worth of some $91.5 billion per annum.

Over the last few years, I’ve tracked the thoughts and business plans of John De Margheriti, the CEO of the Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE).

We’ve had the opportunity to work with AIE and built their campuses in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney.

We’ve seen their vision first hand  – and we reflected that we grew to a national Canberra company on the back of institutions like AIE.

John is an Italian-born Australian electrical engineer, software developer and entrepreneur. He is widely respected as a founding ‘father’ of the Australia’s video games industry and Australia’s most experienced interactive entertainment business executive.

John’s vision is that Canberra should become the home of a creative industry precinct – he has submitted to government a detailed business case and a draft 20 year master plan to refurbish Canberra Technology Park in Watson and develop it into an innovative hub of learning and job creation that includes student accommodation and additional incubator facilities.

He believes that there is ‘absolutely no reason’ the ACT couldn’t become a significant player in an industry where software revenue alone is expected to reach (US) $143.5 billion by 2020.

I strongly support his vision and plans. It is an enormous opportunity for Canberra.

Canberra needs sustainable industry. The ACT is a small and open economy and sensitive to changes in the economic environment.

We need industry that has low environmental impact on the city and surroundings.

We need industry that will employ locals, has economic benefit across the board, one that improves our city and one that can leverage on the Tertiary education sector in ACT.

As the ACT Minister for Higher Education, Training & Research, Meegan Fitzharris MLA spruiked in 2017, “ACT international education income is up 14% to $579m – making international education Canberra’s largest export.”

‘With education our number one export, it’s clear our higher education, training and research sector is important to Canberra’s economy and the ACT Government is committed to creating the skills and innovation base of new industries to ensure we are prepared for the jobs of the future,’ she announced in a media release.

Jobs of the future are changing fast.

In a January 2016, the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report noted that ‘by one popular estimate, 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.’

It shows that IT will be in red-hot demand and it will continue to form the backbone of innovation and industry

‘The question’ the report states ‘is how business, government and individuals will react to these developments.’”

It’s time that the ACT pursues policies which facilitate economic growth and competitive advantage; that means maximising education attainment and facilitating an environment that encourages highly skilled people to work in ACT.

It’s time that we increase the cross-border flow of services into ACT rather than out of ACT.

It’s time that we harness our skilled workforce and facilitate the successful transition between public and private sectors.

It’s time – as the ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr himself says – to ‘help attract Australia’s smartest minds to the ACT’.

The proposal by the Academy of Interactive Entertainment to build an international hub in Canberra ticks all these boxes.

We need to back our rhetoric with action!

When John and his team decided to open the Melbourne campus and take over 3000+m2 of space, I thought that that was very optimistic.

How wrong I was.

The Melbourne campus was oversubscribed in the first two years.

In AIE, you have Canberra’s answer to Elon Musk, asking for the opportunity to bring something very special the ACT that will have more spinoffs than you can imagine.

Opportunity is knocking and Canberra needs to answer the door.

For more information on AIE’s proposal for Canberra Technology Park visit: https://www.yoursay.act.gov.au/future-site-use-old-watson-high-school