Proposal for an ICT Economics Institute 2008

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY' The Digital Economy impacts upon all sectors of the economy, but in Australia the economic and workforce impact and outcomes of the digital economy are not well measured or understood as efforts to date have been fragmented and uncoordinated.

A number of international centres focusing on the Digital Economy have been established in other countries to advantage their domestic economies. Australia does not have such a centre. It needs to create a multi-disciplinary studies centre capable of analysing the strategic economic impact of advanced technologies on our society.

The attached paper lays out a strong business case for such an initiative, which could potentially be, for instance, either "stand-alone", and synergistic to, or could present a transition platform for, the Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society (IBES) at Melbourne University. Successful establishment and operational models for similar facilities, such as the "HILDA" initiative and in the Grattan Institute, can be found in Victoria. In common with such models, it is anticipated that this initiative would swiftly become self-sustaining covering well-funded focused research as well as providing advice to governments and industry in the area of the Digital Economy.

This initiative would be well-supported by the ICT Industry and profession, and would enhance the collaboration between industry, academia and governments in a crucial area of interest to Australia.


The term 'Digital Economy' was coined in Don Tapscott's 1995 best-seller "The Digital Economy: Promise and Peril in the Age of Networked Intelligence". The book was among the first books to show how the Internet would change the way we did business. By 2020 digital technologies will turbo-charge the Australian society and economy, redefining social norms, existing and new industries, international trade and the delivery of government services. The exact scope and impact of the change by 2020 is impossible to predict, but it is important that all sectors of Australian society, government industry and academia understand how digital technologies will change lives.

  • By 2020, all government agencies will be using digital platforms as their major channel of service delivery. Along with the development of improved online security and identity arrangements, this will dramatically reduce the prevalence of hard copy transactions for doing business with government. The use of high-definition video will be common for more complex interactions requiring real-time communication.
  • Almost every household will make extensive use of high-speed broadband. Most will have multiple internet-connected devices (the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) predicts possibly up to 50 devices per household by 2022) and sensors. These will deliver significant productivity gains.
  • The majority of Australian businesses will be using digital platforms for most of their marketing, business administration, service provision, recruitment and training. They will engage beyond their immediate locale with an increasingly broad customer base. Businesses will also make extensive use of video and access a combination of both private and public clouds.
  • Geography will no longer be the barrier to employment that it currently can be. With the spread of teleworking and the use of digital platforms for business transactions and service access, more Australians will be able to seek employment in industries located in areas other than where they live. Telework will enable more people, including those with disabilities or carer responsibilities, to enter the workforce. The availability of telework will also allow more people to stay in the workforce longer.
  • Australia's digital industry sector will be thriving. More students will be undertaking courses leading to a career in this sector. The application of creative design-thinking will lead to the development and commercialisation of new digital applications and services for global customers.
  • Students at all levels of education-living in any part of Australia or even overseas-will have the opportunity to attend virtual classes taught over video technology by specialist teachers, complementing education in the classroom. It will be common place for students and others to undertake virtual visits to cultural, scientific and other institutions, where the opportunity to have these experiences may have previously been out of reach due to geography or lack of resources.
  • Increasingly, the home will be an integral part of health and aged care service delivery, particularly for those with chronic disease. Care coordinators will use digital platforms to monitor key health indicators and assist with health education, medication management and for rehabilitation of patients who are at home.

The digital economy will transform economic and social opportunities in regional Australia. Fast, reliable and affordable broadband, will allow new businesses to be created in rural and regional Australia, just as it will offer an opportunity for established regional businesses to improve their business practices and expand their markets. Such economic growth opportunities, combined with digital delivery of improved education, health and government services, will provide a significant boost to communities in regional Australia.


This paper argues the need for an independent Pearcey Research Institute for the Digital Economy dedicated to better position the Australian economy and society to take advantage of the opportunities brought about by digital technologies, and to understand the economic contribution and advantages from a strong and capable digital economy profession and industry.

In order to ensure the Australia takes the maximum benefit from digital technologies it needs to be able to answer questions such as:

1 How large is the digital economy in Australia?

2 What is the economic contribution of the digital economy work-force, profession, and industry to the Australian economy?

3 What markers of success can government, industry and other stakeholders establish?

4 How will we know when we have maximised the potential of Australia's participation in the digital economy?

5 How might we best focus our efforts to bring about the best outcomes for this nation in the decades ahead?

6 How can we better support diffusion and the take up of new technologies and innovative processes across industries and the community at large?

These questions can only be answered through a sustained, updated, independent, rigorous database of information, and through the activities and services of appropriately qualified experts.

  • Policies and investment can only be grounded in fact if a fact base is created and interpreted. Treasury officials will only be convinced to invest in technology if a return can be clearly demonstrated, supported by robust data.
  • Policy can only be coordinated across multiple organisations (public and private) and jurisdictions (state and federal) if relevant information is accessible.

An independent body, constituted jointly by industry academia and potentially government, will ensure that a non-aligned view is developed.The proposal ties in, integrates and leverages work undertaken in a sporadic, fragmented, disconnected manner by over 20 separate institutions (including the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Productivity Commission, industry associations, academic institutions and private sector consultants) who between them, have released over 250 reports in this area in the last 10 years, most of which have sunk without trace or impact. As a well-respected, independent, rigorous and inclusive institution, the role of PRIDE is to make relevant data available, stimulate debate, and encourage interpretation and strategy formulation.

The PRIDE will assist all stakeholders understand the role of digital technology in productivity and innovation and help focus strategies and activities for a better return on investment and take-up of digital technologies, for a better Australia. A possible framework for this is illustrated below.

To establish PRIDE government, industry and university stakeholders need to work as sponsors and facilitators.

  • Budget is required to establish an advisory council, form an interim secretariat and develop a business plan.
  • Longer term funding should be jointly from industry, academia, and possibly state and federal government. It should consist of endowments, in-kind contributions, research grants and fee-for-service work.
  • PRIDE should take advantage of existing studies organisations and capabilities. It should operate on a "hub and spokes" model and leverage existing resources rather than duplicate them.

Relevant models for PRIDE can be seen in the following Australian organisations; the Grattan Institute; the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), the Warren Centre, and the Intellectual Property Research Institute of Australia (IPRIA).

Appendix A covers the role of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) which is a source for long term base data, but whose remit restricts its role in Digital Economy Economics research.

Appendix B covers the activities of the federal government Department of Communications (DoC), formerly the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) and Department of Communications. Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA). DoC is the lead government department on digital economy policies and programs.

Appendix C lists a number of overseas digital economy research groups upon which experience and be drawn.

Appendix D covers the UK's experience, having invested £150m in to The Research Council's UK Digital Economy Theme since 2008 to rapidly realise the transformational impact of digital technologies on aspects of community life, cultural experiences, future society, and the economy.






Digital Technology has a huge impact on the Australian economy. It is therefore an imperative that it receives adequate analysis through an organisation such as PRIDE so that its impact can be maximised.

Figure 2 , Information society impacts measurement model

Digital Technology Enabled Productivity

Defining, let alone measuring, the productivity impact of digital technologies and the digital economy is challenging. OECD data shows that in Australia the contribution of ICT (Information Communication Technologies) to GDP averaged 0.915% per annum between 1995 and 2003, when the total productivity increase averaged 2.2%. In certain industry sectors (e.g. Financial Services) ICT dominates as the single most important productivity measure.

The Department of Communications predecessors, DBCDE and DCITA produced reports examining productivity growth in manufacturing and some service industries over the 17 years from 1984-85 to 2001-02 (NOIE 2004 and DCITA 2005a). These industries jointly cover about 53 per cent of Australia's GDP. DBCDE and DCITA's studies show that digital technologies have a major influence on productivity via its effect on Multi Factor Productivity ("MFP") growth - through technological changes, capital investment in ICT and the effect of falling ICT prices. In service industries (including telecommunications, finance, wholesale trade and electricity), 35-65% of MFP growth is estimated to have been driven by technological/ICT factors. In manufacturing (including electronics, medical and scientific instruments, petrochemicals, basic metals and motor vehicles, the range was 45-75%.


ICT plays a major and pervasive role in the innovation process across all sections of this nation's economy (and most importantly across any nation's economy, including those of our competitors). In national economic terms, ICT can be considered to be analogous to electricity generation, or to road systems.

  • In quantitative terms, ICT contributes the following to Australia's economy
  • Employs > 590,000 workers (>6 % of national workforce)
  • Generates > $90 Billion in revenue annually
  • Invests > $5.7 Billion in R&D annually
  • Exports >$4.5 Billion annually
  • In relative terms, this places ICT alongside the mining industry, larger than the agricultural sector and larger than the whole of the transport sector (I.e., road transport and storage together with transport services and storage).
  • Australia is the fifth largest ICT market in the Asia-Pacific region, after Japan, China, Korea and India.
  • Recent research by Ai Group found that "Australia's most innovative and ICT intensive industries (financial and insurance services, wholesale trade, and information, (telecommunications and media) are also Australia's most productive. These high-tech leaders experienced labour productivity gains of 40-45% in the last decade, compared to the average for all industry sectors of 13%.


  • In 2012-13, ICT gross domestic product (GDP) accounted for 6.9 per cent of Australia's total GDP , up from 4.6% in 2002-3. In relative terms, this places ICT alongside the Australian mining industry, and larger than the Australian agricultural sector or the whole of the Australian transport sector (i.e., road transport and storage together with transport services and storage);
  • ICT industries in Australia earned total revenue of $91 billion in 2010-11. ICT specialist firms accounted for 89.1 per cent of this total. Telecommunications services accounted for $51 billion, computer wholesaling for$ 17.4 billion and computer consultancy services for $19.7 billion;
  • Australia exported $4,528 million products and services in 2008-9.
  • There are over 597,000 ICT workers in Australia, 387,000 of whom are ICT technical, professional and management staff.
  • 297,000 people are employed by specialist ICT industry organisations.
  • Total ICT spending in Australia in 2006 was forecast at just under US$50 billion, making Australia the twelfth largest ICT market in the world, while being only ranked 52nd in the world by population;
  • Australia is the fifth largest ICT market in the Asia-Pacific region, after Japan, China, Korea and India;
  • 16% of short-term visa holders arriving in Australia during 2012-13 were in ICT occupations

With reference to the internet, Deloitte Access Economics estimates that:

  • The direct contribution of the internet to the economy was worth $50 billion in 2010, equivalent to 3.6% of GDP and greater than exports of iron ore. It is growing two times faster than the broader economy and predicted to reach $70 billion by 2015
  • The internet also generates wider economic benefits that are not fully captured by GDP, such as $27 billion in productivity gains to businesses and government, and a $53 billion consumer surplus to Australian households as a result of time saved and enjoyment online.
  • Boston Consulting Group states that the internet powers economic growth across the world; over the past five years, it has accounted for 21% of GDP growth and over 4.1% of total GDP in the G20 economies.
  • Internet technology gives firms in every sector the opportunity to transform their business processes in new ways. Australian innovators are combining information and communication technologies in a variety of ways that blur old boundaries and erode old barriers.
  • Australia has to work hard to maintain its global competitiveness. Australia is currently seventh in the world in terms of the Internet's contribution to GDP, with a predicted slide down the rankings to tenth place by 2016.
  • The World Economic Forum found that Australia's relative competitiveness based on ICT use has deteriorated since 2004, slipping from a peak of 9th to just 18th in 2014.
  • Consumer technologies are enabling fundamental changes in consumer behaviour and driving positive change in many sectors. Australians are connected, with 70% of them considering the Internet to be a vital part of their lives.
  • The internet is a major catalyst for small business growth, with those that make the most of the Internet being two times more likely to be growing, four times more likely to be hiring, and earning two times more revenue per employee, than those that do not.
  • The internet creates jobs ? 190,000 people are in jobs directly related to the internet, including IT software firms, Internet Service Providers, and companies providing ecommerce and online advertising services. Those 190,000 jobs alone generated $22 billion for the Australian economy in 2010.
  • The media industry is healthy, with the Internet providing a "shot in the arm"-by 2015, total annual revenues of the sector are expected to grow by $4.3 billion to $29.1 billion and jobs are expected to grow by 15,000 to 120,000. Online media is driving over 50% of the growth in revenue and jobs.
  • Entrepreneurs working more closely with educators, government and corporate Australia is the key to unlocking the potential of the tech startup sector and delivering an additional $109 billion to the economy, according to PwC's 2013 The Startup Economy report. The startup sector is a rapidly growing part of the economy which has the capacity to contribute four per cent of GDP and create 540,000 new jobs by 2033.
  • The development and spread of information and communication technologies (ICT) has increased productivity across industries. ICT investment grew from the 1970s, but at first the benefits were slow to appear, as businesses had to make many changes to fully exploit the new technologies. Eventually, large productivity growth benefits were realised. In Australia, 20 to 35 per cent of labour productivity growth in the 1990s has been attributed to firms that are not producers of ICT adopting ICT. There is vigorous debate about whether ICT still contributes to productivity growth. Some authors argue that the large productivity contribution of ICT in the late 1990s and early 2000s has been largely exhausted.14 But reviews of the literature support the conclusion that the "ICT revolution is not over", and that ICT adoption has continued to drive productivity growth.
  • Across the Australian economy, cost savings from widespread cloud adoption could add between $2 and $3 billion to GDP, or between 0.15 and 0.2 of a percentage point of GDP. Other advantages of the cloud, such as flexibility, multi-site access and the end of redundant systems, are more difficult to quantify in dollars, but are likely to be larger than the cost savings alone. The few studies that quantify the value of increased flexibility and new business creation deriving from the cloud estimate benefits of more than 1 per cent of GDP in the European Union.16
  • The ICT sector is rapidly changing as the cloud becomes a core part of the industry. Industry analysts estimate that the Australian cloud services market is growing by about 25 per cent a year, while the broader IT services market is growing only at about per cent. By 2017, the cloud services market is expected to have grown to around $3 billion, or 15 per cent of the IT services market in Australia.
  • Australia has been rated behind all Asian developed countries on cloud readiness in Asia, with low scores on international internet connectivity. Australia has dropped to 18th, from 9th in 2004, in the 2013 WEF-Insead technology readiness rankings.


Section 6 of the consultation discussion paper mentions the need for additional data and goes further, referring to recommendations within the National Innovation Review. The Pearcey Foundation contends that in doing so, the consultation discussion paper misses the point. The questions posed in section 6 focus on data collection but miss the bigger picture of analysis, communication, interpretation, and strategy formation.

Over 250 reports have been writing into the impact of digital technology in the Digital economy in the last 10 years. These have been substantially ignored by industry stakeholders because of perceived conflicts of interest, a lack of cohesion, poor stewardship, incomplete datasets and limited vision. This is not addressed (and therefore will not be answered) by the questions posed in section 6 of the consultation paper. Defining extra datasets and increasing the budget of the ABS will not address the primary issue.

The proposed PRIDE not only addresses data collection (See section 4.1.1 below) but importantly, also encompasses benchmarking (section 4.1.2), analysis and research (section 4.1.3) and stakeholder engagement (section 4.1.4).

PRIDE is needed for a number of inter-related reasons:

  • to accelerate technology-enabled innovation and productivity in Australia in the longer term;
  • to ensure Australia has a globally relevant digital technology capability;
  • to underpin the knowledge economy (and reduce Australia's reliance on growth through primary industries and natural resources);
  • to facilitate meaningful information flows amongst stakeholders within the digital economy.

Through the PRIDE, a broader analytical capability for assessing the impact of digital technology becomes available, and stakeholder support for common goals and common strategic initiatives, becomes significantly more achievable. By quantifying and measuring digital technology's impact, the PRIDE will help develop understanding of how this nation can exploit digital technology to its maximum advantage.


Relevant models for PRIDE can be seen in the following organisations:

  • Australian Business Foundation.
  • Strategic Policy Institute.
  • Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE).
  • Intellectual Property Research Institute of Australia (IPRIA).

In each of these institutions, there is a government and/or industry funded research entity that is recognised as a source of current, comprehensive information focusing on a specific industry and/or capability sector, with an associated analytic capability used by governments, industry, media and other stakeholders.


Firstly, Australia does not have a public sector economics studies institute researching the impact of digital technology in Australia.

NICTA, CSIRO, DSTO undertake digital technology research but have no remit, experience or resources devoted to the study of economic impact. Various ICT industry bodies undertake limited research into economic matters (employment, exports, revenue, GDP etc) but this is not coordinated and somewhat fragmentary.

The role of PRIDE is NOT to compete with existing institutes for digital technology R&D funding. Its researchers and directors are not undertaking digital technology R&D; they are undertaking research that stimulates debate on economic impact, investment and policy. They are stimulating a constructive commentary to all stakeholders on how best to facilitate a "smart Australia" underpinned by investments in technology so as to secure the future of this nation's digital economy.

It is noted however that many institutes have overlapping briefs with the proposed institute. Further to the development of a business plan (see "Initial Steps" section 5 below), it is essential that an INCLUSIVE approach is taken that leverages the scattered, fragmented capability currently in Australia, and links to relevant global study groups. The proposed institute should follow a "hub and spoke" model, incorporating and leveraging capability in existence in other institutes.


It is proposed the institute be co-located with a nationally recognised academic institution, leveraging the staff, infrastructure, relationship network, capability and reputation of that institution. Leading institutions in Australia would be invited to bid to become the host. The institute will be non-political, bipartisan and supporting the needs of all stakeholders.


The Pearcey Foundation is a not for profit organisation concerned about the future of Australia' digital technology industry. It is a catalyst to the establishment of the institute. It does not seek to establish the institute itself and anticipates an elected, independent body drawn from a broad group of stakeholders to work through a tender process to establish the institute.


What follows is a (high level) practical description of how such an institute might operate and what could be the scope of its proposed undertakings. It is suggested that the institute might focus initially on four areas, as follows:

STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT AND INFORMATION DISSEMINATION An important role for PRIDE is to stimulate debate on the role of digital technology in the Digital Economy. Data and analysis is only meaningful if it is communicated and stakeholders are engaged in thought provoking dialogue.

BENCHMARKING To ensure progress can be quantified, accurate measurement would need to be undertaken, covering at least the following:

a) Interstate, National as well as International benchmarking;

b) Measurement of the level of enablement provided by digital technology in all sectors of the digital economy, including healthcare, education, energy & resources, environment, entertainment, manufacturing, transport, financial services, primary industries, government services;

c) Measurement of the employment, research expenditure, export generation and revenue of the Digital economy industry

d) Progress against industry targets (annual, tri-annual, 5 year, etc).

ANALYSIS AND RESEARCH Research staff at the Institute would also undertake collaborative analysis and research based on the captured industry data and information, including such activities as understanding and publicizing:

a) National and International trends and business issues;

b) Industry performance and competitiveness;

c) Cross-sector issues;

d) Linkages between government policy and technology uptake especially by SME's:

e) Providing commentary on policy options, along with associated opportunity and risk analysis;

f) Skill needs and forecasting, gender issues, etc.;

g) Exploring research priorities and digital technology infrastructure needs for deployment;

h) Economic and other digital technology industry analysis of trading partners and competitor nations.

FEE FOR SERVICE ACTIVITY As an established and universally recognised source of information and skilled knowledge on the Australian digital technology industry, PRIDE clients will logically include:

a) Governments (Federal, State, and local);

b) Industry Associations (both within the digital technology sector and without);

c) Media;

d) Educators and researchers, including 'education' of federal, state and local policy makers on drivers of the knowledge economy and in order to assist in new and informed policy generation;

e) Australian Investors and Corporations;

f) Digital technology professionals, managers, end-users;

g) International customers and investors.

Within the limits of maintaining an unbiased, independent position across the digital technology industry, the institute should undertake assignments on a contracted basis. This is an important part of ensuring a high quality output, and in building an institute sustainable over the longer term.


To ensure that there is sufficient focus on the institute's efforts to generate valuable outcomes, it is imperative that all parties share a total understanding of the nation's current digital technology capabilities and shortcomings, across the public and private sectors, as well as in industry and academia. It is contended here, that as a starting point, a total picture needs to be developed which describes Australia's digital technology. A sustained long-term data collection effort is proposed in conjunction with government, industry and academia focused on:

a. National as well as International benchmarking;

b. Measurement of the level of enablement provided by digital technologies in all sectors of the digital economy, including healthcare, education, energy & resources, environment, entertainment, manufacturing, transport, financial services, primary industries, government services;

c. Progress against industry targets (annual, tri-annual, 5 year, etc.);

d. Analysis of the role of exports and imports including global linkages (i.e., building an understanding of the Australian digital technology food chain);

e. Geographic and sectoral mapping;

f. Forecasting;

g. Detailed mapping of what R&D is being undertaken by whom and where, and with what intended or potential impact;

h. Extracting value from the 250 (or so) prior studies undertaken on the digital economy and on digital technologies in Australia over the last five years, and from existing bodies of knowledge and data-sets held by industry bodies;

i. Identifying and assisting in data collection wherever gaps in information are identified;

j. Assisting with international data collation and interpretation (e.g. with the OECD Science, Technology And Industry (STI) directorate).


Critical success factors include the following:

1. This proposal represents a fully inclusive "hubs and spokes" approach. It is one that aims to exploit all existing capabilities and initiatives where ever Digital Technologies are involved.

2. PRIDE should be established not only as an independent centre, but also as one linked closely to one (or more) academic institution(s), thus embracing all those who are already prominent and competent in the field, and then drawing them together more closely under the auspices of the institute.

3. The institute's exact form be decided by a body of individuals drawn from the industry (government, professional bodies, academia, industry groups, as well as some industrialists), who are best suited to make this determination.

4. Strong support from Digital Technology industry leaders, professional and industry associations and governments at all levels, and particularly from the many departments within the Federal Government who have various interests in the future of digital technology. State government departments will also be key to ensuring the success of this initiative. In particular, it is hoped that this proposal will be one that binds interested parties together, and certainly that it will not be one that further splinters them.

5. This proposal must not be viewed as a threat to any digital technologies group, sector or individual. It is important that the institute is able to embrace all interested parties and vested interests from the outset. The institute must be outward looking and able to generate support for the industry through measuring and proposing approaches that can maximize the enabling impact of digital technologies across Australia's diverse and sophisticated economy and society.



• The inspirational leader of the institute will be a full time professional who is committed to implementation of the institute's vision;

• There will be small executive group reporting to the leader;

• At the heart of the institute, there will be a lead group of researchers spanning economics, business, law, technologies, and, over time, PhD student researchers;

• Whilst the home base for PRIDE will most likely be an east coast academic institution, there is no perceived need that all of the institute's staff would be centrally located. The concept proposed here involves connection through the institute to the best researchers in the business, regardless of their physical locality, i.e., a distributed telecommuting organisation;

• The economics studies institute will seek to exploit all existing areas of available expertise. It will embrace and include areas of competence already recognised across the Australian digital technology community, be they at any particular University, in an existing federal or state government department, or in a private economics studies institute (such as the AIIA, ACS, or another industry body), the ABS, or the Productivity Commission;

• Over time, a measure of the institute's success will be the level to which it becomes recognised as the national unifying policy forum for Digital Technology and all of its constituent elements.


  • The board controlling and directing PRIDE must be truly independent and have no real or perceived vested interests outside this field of endeavour;
  • The research methodologies and processes followed by the institute must be academically rigorous, of high quality, and be transparent;
  • The institute should have close linkages with all appropriate international peer bodies;
  • The institute will have close working relationships with Australian digital technology professional and industry groups, including the ACS, AIIA, AIG, AMIA, NICTA, CSIRO IT, as well as with appropriate State and Federal government agencies, departments, universities and research centres;
  • A key goal of this institute must be to ensure that it is viewed, over the long haul, as a definitive repository for digital technology industry information and knowledge.


PRIDE requires seed funding from all industry stakeholders to establish itself, including grants, endowments, in-kind contributions and fee for service work. However, once established, the institute may become self-funding, at least to some degree. For example, it could "sell" certain results of its work. It should be noted though, that it will be critical that any objective for long term self-reliance will have to be counterbalanced by the fundamental requirement that the institute remains able to provide (and be perceived to provide) a fully independent and balanced view.

Therefore, it is proposed that the Government should consider the provision of seed funding as follows:

• $100,000 funding for a detailed feasibility study and development of a business plan for the institute.

• $5m in endowment funding from the following year onwards, subject to an agreed three-year business plan. The Government may wish to see this support complemented by additional funding, sourced from other founding-stakeholders.

• A commitment of $500,000 per annum for 3 years for fee-for-service work, subject to agreed deliverables being achieved.


The proponents believe that four steps will be needed to bring the institute into existence:

1. Secure broad interest and agreement with this proposal across all relevant stakeholders (government, industry and academia);

2. Secure seed funding from the Government from which a business plan can be developed;

3. Establishment of an interim committee that seeks competitive bids from leading research institutions in Australia for the formation of the institute;

4. Government and broader stakeholder support for the institute through endowments, research grants, sponsorships, in-kind support, and committed fee-for-service work allowing for a self-sustaining institute to be formed.

The Pearcey Foundation would be prepared to steer the initial planning of this institute if all parties agreed that was desirable. We do not seek to 'control' this entity rather work as a member of a broader stakeholder team to ensure its success.



The ABS is Australia's independent central statistical authority. It is responsible for providing statistical services to all levels of government and to the community generally. The ABS has a legislated role to provide leadership in provision of a national statistical service, both at Commonwealth and State levels. The ABS provides statistics on a wide range of economic, social, population and environmental matters, covering government, business and the community. It also has an important coordination function with respect to the statistical activities of other official bodies, both in Australia and overseas.

  • Many Innovation and Technology statistics such as Business demography;
  • IT use and innovation by business; Expenditure on research and development; and
  • Personal internet access and usage have been identified as essential, and are listed within the Economy and Society pillars.

These statistics can be found within the following datasets produced by the I&T branch: Business Characteristics Survey;

  • Survey of Research and Experimental Development - Businesses;
  • Survey of Research and Experimental Development - Government and Private Non-Profit;
  • Survey of Research and Experimental Development - Higher Education;
  • Internet Activity Survey; and
  • The Household Use of Information Technology.


The ESA for Australia initiative is led by the ABS and is a key National Statistical Service (NSS) strategy. The aim of the initiative is to allow for effective prioritisation of investment, focus and effort within the NSS, by identifying those essential statistical assets which are critical to decision-making in a complex and sometimes fragmented information environment across Australia. The ESA aims to enhance the quality and value of Australia's statistical system to ensure providers and users of statistics have the confidence to trust the statistics produced within it. Many innovation and technology statistics such as business demography; information technology use and innovation by business; expenditure on research and development; and personal internet access and usage have been identified as essential, and are listed within the economy and society pillars. These statistics are in outputs from the following

I&T surveys:

  • Business Characteristics Survey
  • Survey of Research and Experimental Development - Businesses, Government and Private Non-Profit, and Higher Education
  • Internet Activity Survey
  • Household Use of Information Technology

Phase One of the initiative represented the first holistic assessment of the most essential statistics to meet current user requirements undertaken in Australia. The resulting 2013 list of ESA for Australia was developed through consultation with the community as well as users and producers of official statistics in Australia.

Phase Two of the project involves the undertaking of a quality assessment process. This will provide a more in-depth consideration of Australia's essential statistical assets in order to understand how well the currently produced information meets the critical needs of users. It will also highlight gaps within the existing statistics. All of the I&T statistics currently produced have been recognised as critical under the ESA for Australia initiative and will undergo the quality assessment process.


The Innovation and Technology (I&T) statistics program provides data to assist understanding of the impact of research and experimental development, innovation and new technologies on economic growth, productivity and well-being. In advanced industrial economies, science, technology and innovation have been sources of long-run economic growth and increasing social well-being. Innovation is a key component in making Australia more productive and more competitive. Information and communication technologies (ICT) are important enablers of innovation and contribute to productivity growth. Research and experimental development (R&D) activity is a subset of overall innovative activity. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), as well as being a provider of statistics, has a coordination and leadership role in identifying current and emerging policy information needs and obtaining stakeholder input to determine statistical priorities.

To fulfill this role, the ABS is developing a Ten Year Plan for I&T statistics; this plan will provide the contextual framework to ensure the ABS is forward-looking and responsive to the changing needs and priorities of the user community. The plan will provide the framework for assessing and incorporating current and future policy information needs and ensure that resources are deployed effectively. A key element of the plan is to strengthen relationships with stakeholders. This will ensure emerging needs and new developments are responded to quickly and sufficient resources are allocated to measuring and evaluating new policy outcomes. The plan's scope includes influencing and responding to international developments on statistical frameworks and the collection of I&T statistics. The plan will also reflect the outcomes of the Essential Statistical Assets (ESA) for Australia initiative. A discussion paper on the future directions of I&T statistics has been prepared. The paper describes: current and future key priorities and policy; existing available data sources; data gaps and possible solutions to these gaps. It incorporates stakeholder input from the ESA initiative and feedback from the R&D review. The aim of the paper is to seek input from stakeholders to determine current and future I&T statistical priorities. This feedback will be used to finalise the Ten Year Plan. The Australian Statistician makes the final decision on the shape of the program. The discussion paper will be circulated in early 2014. Feedback from stakeholders will be incorporated into the current draft of the Ten Year Plan and a meeting of the Innovation and Technology Statistics User group (membership by invitation) will be convened to discuss the plan prior to it being finalised. This meeting is proposed to be held prior to the end of the financial year (date yet to be confirmed).


The first meeting of the newly formed Innovation and Technology Statistics Stakeholder Group took place on the 10 April 2013. The new group was formed from the previously existing Innovation Reference Group and the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Reference Group. The newly formed group provides a high level forum for understanding, improving and developing Innovation and Technology statistics, by providing members with the opportunity to discuss and consider strategies to address statistical issues. Members from the following key stakeholder organisations participated in the April meeting:

  • Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resources Economies and Sciences (ABARES);
  • Australian Computer Society (ACS);
  • Australian Mobile Telecommunications Authority (AMTA);
  • Australian Research Council (ARC);
  • Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO);
  • Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO);
  • Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (DAFF);
  • Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DCBDE);
  • Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR);
  • Department of Innovation, Industry, Climate Change Science and Research and Tertiary Education (DIICCSRTE);
  • Group of 8; and
  • Productivity Commission.

Topics discussed included: - Development of a ten year business plan for the ABS Innovation and Technology Statistics program.

- The 2016 Census of Population and Housing Content and Procedures submission process and information about possible directions for ICT related content.

- An outline of the findings from the pilot Public Sector Innovation Survey, part of the Australian Public Sector Innovation Indicators (APSII) Project.


The field phase of the 2012-13 Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, (cat. no. 8146.0) conducted as part of the Multi-Purpose Household Survey (MPHS) has just been completed. The results of the 2012-13 Household Use of Information Technology, Australia (cat. no. 8146.0) are set to be released on 25 February 2014 and will cover topics such as:

  • Home access to the internet.
  • Frequency of home internet use and type of activities.
  • Other sites where participants accessed the internet.
  • Online purchases of goods and services, type of goods, or reason for not ordering.

The 2014-15 Household Use of Information Technology Survey (HILDA) is currently in the design phase, with questions being tested in the field in regards to both their suitability and reliability for the next iteration of the survey.


Over the last eighteen months or so, the ABS has been working in partnership with a range of other Commonwealth Departments and Agencies to develop a plan to enhance the collection, integration, coordination of and access to firm level data. The plan is known as the "Plan to Improve Collection and Coordination of Firm-Level Data" and drivers for the plan include:

  • The need to lift productivity across the Australian economy, underpinned by successful business.
  • To ensure the outcomes of the investment provided by the Commonwealth Government to firms, both financially and through expert advice to improve business performance, are optimal. Using a scientific approach to investigate evidence can lead to policy decisions that are more effective in achieving desired outcomes, as the decisions are based on accurate and meaningful information.
  • Evidence based decision making requires a systematic and rational approach to researching and analysing evidence to inform the policy making process. Currently, the level of data available for analysis and evaluation for policy makers is not well integrated or fit for the purpose of firm level analysis.

The ABS as Australia's independent national statistical agency, an accredited Integrating Authority and leader of the National Statistical Service is well placed to deliver the outcomes sought. The ABS Firm Level Plan (FLP) is a component of the overall plan and will enhance capacity for policy analysis and productivity studies using firm level data. This includes developing infrastructure that will facilitate integration of directly collected and administrative firm level information.

The ABS FLP has four elements 1 establishing the infrastructure;

2 expanding firm level data holdings through collection and administrative data held by government agencies;

3 enhancing access; and

4 growing analytical capability.

To achieve these, the following initiatives are proposed:

  • Creation of a backbone longitudinal dataset for all businesses using administrative data from the ABS Business Register and the Australian Taxation Office. This will include the capability to integrate and link other survey/administrative data held by government agencies.
  • Creation of a synthetic longitudinal business dataset which coupled with improvement in infrastructure provides more options for firm level analysis.
  • Enhancement of the ABS' Business Longitudinal Database (BLD) including creation of a dedicated longitudinal panel for R&D performers. There will also be more flexibility in content allowing increased capacity to understand exits and entries and better ability to shape panels to meet contemporary policy needs.
  • Enhancement of analytical capability in the ABS and improvement of infrastructure used to access confidentialised micro data.
  • Development of a Linked Longitudinal Employer Employee Database (LLEED) which will support research and analysis for interrelated factors of labour, firms and jobs in the labour market.

Other cross-government initiatives related to the overall plan include developing a set of core data items with standard definitions to be used when collecting information from business for all new business assistance programs. This will require that some of the key performance indicators for all new business assistance programs be based on the core data items and improving the accessibility for evaluation purposes to data collected as part of these programs. Funding is yet to be negotiated.


The Business Characteristics Survey (BCS) is an annual survey and it is the vehicle for the ABS' Integrated Business Characteristics Strategy (IBCS). The strategy integrates the collection and quality assurance of data required for input into both the ABS' Business Longitudinal Database (BLD) and the production of point in time estimates for: use of information technology; innovation; and a broad range of other non-financial characteristics. A key part of the IBCS is the production of annual use of information technology and innovation indicators, with a more detailed set of items for each of these topics collected every second year (i.e. in alternating years). The 2011-12 BCS collected detailed information relating to the use of information technology by Australian businesses see Business Use of Information Technology, 2011-12 (cat. no. 8129.0). Data for the 2012-13 reference year will be released in the following publications: - Summary of IT Use and Innovation in Australian Business (cat. no. 8166.0) on 19 June, 2014 - Innovation in Australian Business (cat. no. 8158.0) on 21 August, 2014 - Selected Characteristics of Australian Business (cat. no. 8167.0) on 18 September, 2014.


The Internet Activity Survey (IAS) is conducted twice a year and covers internet subscribers as at end June and December, and download activity in the three months April to June and October to December. The survey collects subscriber information from Internet Service Providers (ISPs) with more than 1,000 subscribers. The most recent edition includes information on: internet subscribers and their type of connection; the type of user (business/household); the volume of data downloaded; the speed of the internet connection; and the location of the subscriber (by state or territory). For example, the three months between April and June 2013, the total volume of data downloaded via mobile handsets was 19,636 terabytes, which is a 43 percent increase from the previous period of October to December 2012. Data from the IAS is used by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in their broadband statistics which can be found in the OECD Broadband Portal (latest release 9 January 2014).

Further information on this survey is available in Internet Activity, Australia (cat. no. 8153.0). The December 2013 edition is due to be released on 8 April 2014.


The suite of R&D surveys covers four sectors: business, higher education, government and private non-profit organisations. Data from the latest Research and Experimental Development, Businesses, Australia (cat. no. 8104.0) survey was released on the 6 September 2013. In future, the business collection will be run every two years, with the next reference year being 2013-14.

There are two upcoming releases for R&D:

1 The Research and Experimental Development, Higher Education, Australia (cat. no. 8111.0) publication on 20 May 2014, covering the 2012 reference period

2 The Research and Experimental Development, Government and Private Non-Profit Organisations, Australia (cat. no. 8109.0) publication on 9 July 2014 covering the 2012-13 reference year.


Venture capital and later stage private equity is high risk capital directed towards businesses with prospects of rapid growth and/or high rates of returns. It is an investment in not only money, but also of skills and time. The ABS first conducted the survey of venture capital for the period 1999-2000 and has since undertaken the survey annually with the financial support of the Department of Industry. These statistics are used by analysts in both the public and private sector to address policy issues and monitor changes in the industry. The next release of the survey, for the period 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013, is due to be released on 13 February 2014. The release presents information on both financial and non-financial contributions to venture capital and later stage private equity investments.

Further information is available in Venture Capital and Later Stage Private Equity, Australia (cat. no. 5678.0).


The 2012 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) was conducted throughout Australia during the period August 2012 to March 2013, and was released on 13 November 2013. The 2012 survey collected information to:

  • Measure the prevalence of disability in Australia
  • Measure the need for support of older people and those with disability
  • Estimate the number of and provide information about people who provide care to older people and people with disabilities
  • Provide a demographic and socio-economic profile of people with disabilities, older people and carers compared with the general population.

The survey also asks the population of persons aged 15 years or more with a disability and persons aged 65 years or more, questions relating to their computer and internet access and use.

More information is available in the Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2012 (cat. no. 4430.0).


The latest issue of the OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard was released in the second half of 2013. The 260 indicators in the STI Scoreboard 2013 show how OECD and partner economies are performing in a wide range of areas to help governments design more effective and efficient policies and monitor progress towards their desired goals. The STI Scoreboard is published every other year, alternately with the OECD Science, Technology and Industry Outlook.



The Department of Communications is the lead Australian Government agency working to support all Australians realise the full potential of the digital economy. It is the Australian Government's pre-eminent advisor on communications, in particular digital technologies and communications services. Digital technologies and communications services are increasingly pervasive and are driving rapid transformation. The effective and innovative use of these technologies and services offers significant benefits for individuals, communities, businesses, industry and governments. Realising the full potential of digital technologies and communications services will underpin Australia's future economic prosperity. To provide good public policy advice to the Government, the department is chartered to establish and maintain a deep and authoritative understanding of market developments and innovations, including international and domestic.

The departments Corporate Plan 2014-17 sets its course for the future, identifying the strategic priorities that are driving our direction and work over the next four years:

- enhancing digital productivity

- expanding digital infrastructure

- promoting efficient communications markets.

The department provides:

- Critical analysis: It works to identify, analyse and report on digital technologies and communications services and market trends, including their effect on economic and social issues, to inform policy priorities.

- Strategic policy advice: The Government with policy advice on communications issues.

- Best practice administration: It administers portfolio legislation and works to review and shape the regulatory framework. It assists the Minister and Parliamentary Secretary to fulfil their Parliamentary obligations.

- Collaborative approaches: It works with portfolio agencies, stakeholders across government, industry, research institutions and the community to generate innovative advice and to provide high quality service.

- Effective program management: It aims to deliver efficient and effective programs to achieve the Government's policy outcomes.

- Portfolio agency advice: It analyses and provides strategic advice on our portfolio agencies: government business enterprises Australia Post and NBN Co Limited; national broadcasters ABC and SBS; and regulators the Australian Communications and Media Authority and the Telecommunications Universal Service Management Agency.


Rapid technological change is transforming the economy, with significant implications for productivity, competition and innovation. The speed and success with which certain sectors, and the economy as a whole, can adopt these technologies is of increasing importance to our national prosperity. The department plays a critical role in advising Government on opportunities arising from the innovative adoption and use of digital technologies.


  • Research and advice: The department analyses international and domestic developments in digital technologies, networks and services. It advises on how these developments can enhance productivity, improve competition and encourage innovation across all sectors of the economy. It advises on the implications for Government policies and recommend appropriate policy responses.
  • National strategy: The department leads the update of the National Digital Economy Strategy to set out the next steps for Australia to improve productivity through the adoption of digital technologies.
  • Government online: The department works with other government agencies to implement and use technologies that boost productivity, and to improve the quality and number of government systems, products, services and data sets that Australians can access online.


  • Telework, The Telework website provides tools and information to assist employers and employees to implement telework successfully. Telework, and the concept that work is something you do, not where you are, is the practice of utilising information and communications technology to stay connected to colleagues, and will create economic, social and environmental benefits.

- The Internet Basics website provides a starting point for internet novices to build the skills and confidence needed to get online. The website is designed specifically for people who are new to the internet, and people who are looking to learn a little more to be confident and safer online. Internet Basics is available online at or through the Government's Digital Hubs program.

  • The Digital Business website provides practical guidance for small businesses and community organisations to establish and enhance their online presence.
  • Digital Business Kits will address industry-specific gaps in digital knowledge and promote use of innovative digital solutions to market products and services, engage with clients and improve business operations.
  • The Digital Careers program is a four-year initiative, aimed at fostering interest amongst high school students in digital technologies, ICT study and increase awareness of ICT career options.
  • The Digital Enterprise program is helping small-to-medium enterprise and not-for-profit organisations improve the way they do business online and participate in the digital economy.
  • Digital Health and Education Initiatives. The Townsville Telehealth Diabetes Trial Extension and the 3D Online Education initiative are demonstrating innovative uses of high speed broadband to deliver health and education services.
  • The Digital Hubs program is helping communities gain the digital literacy skills needed to effectively participate in the digital economy.
  • The Digital Local Government program helps local governments enhance their online services and maximise the benefits of high-speed broadband. The aim of the program is to bring about significant improvements in the quality, availability and speed of local government services.
  • The National Broadband Network (NBN) will provide vital digital infrastructure to enable Australia's digital economy.
  • Cloud computing and the digital economy. The National Cloud Computing Strategy was released in 2013 to promote the smart adoption of cloud services.
  • Internet governance. How we help manage the digital economy through the internet's administrative organisations.

DIGITAL ECONOMY The department is committed to further developing Australia's infrastructure, online safety, confidence, skills and regulatory settings so that all Australians can take full advantage of economic, educational and social opportunities offered by the digital economy.

Abul Rizvi - Deputy Secretary

Keith Besgrove - First Assistant Secretary, Digital Services Division'


Overseas Digital Economy Institutes

1 Australia University of Southern Queensland Australian Digital Futures Institute Australia's social, cultural, educational and economic future depends on the capacity to design and utilise emerging digital technologies and embrace the opportunities of new media. The Australian Digital Futures Institute plays a global role in forging strategic partnerships, leading inter-disciplinary research, and realising focussed end-user outcomes to foster a digitally literate society. As the future emerges, ADFI's role in horizon-scanning, prototyping, deployment and evaluation becomes critical in an increasingly dynamic world.

2 Australia Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) Research Series Our research program helps us to make informed decisions as an evidence-based regulator and understand the implications that regulation of communication and media markets may create. It aims to inform strategic policy development, regulatory reviews and investigations, as well as help Australians to make better decisions about media and communications.

3 Canada University of Calgary The Centre for the Digital Economy@ (CDE@) The Centre has been created to become the policy centre on economic, public and management issues surrounding the digital economy in Canada. The ultimate purpose of the Centre is to facilitate and promote the development of objective and evidence-based knowledge that responds to, and anticipates, managerial and government policy decisions. The Centre for the Digital Economy was created through seed money provided by four leading telecommunications companies in Canada: Bell Canada, Rogers Communications, Shaw Communications Inc., and TELUS. "It is important for Canadians, as both consumers and producers in the digital economy, that there be a source of independent analysis that engages in the development and assessment of government policies and initiatives, informed by Canada's unique evolution and circumstances."

4 UK Anglia Ruskin University, UK Cultures of the Digital Economy (CoDE) Research The Cultures of the Digital Economy (CoDE) Research Institute is a multidisciplinary initiative at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, specialising in the creative and cultural opportunities which are generated through the emerging Digital Economy. CoDE engages in and enables collaboration between cultural, creative and technical industries and academia. CoDE's key thematic research areas are: Digital Performance, Production and Play; Serious Gaming and Mobile Applications; Creative Design for User Interaction; Digital Humanities and Network Politics. The Institute fosters a critical and experimental interdisciplinary research environment and through projects, seminars and published research aims to explore the role of current and emerging technologies in a creative context. CoDE is a crucible for thinking outside traditional disciplinary boundaries and a catalyst for establishing connections with industry and local, national and international communities. Its location in Cambridge provides it with excellent potential for collaboration with entertainment, technological, scientific, arts and the heritage industries.

5 UK Imperial College London, UK Digital Economy Lab The Digital Economy Lab acts as a portal for all the research, teaching and engagement which is taking place within this grand challenge at Imperial College London. We aim to link external organisations to relevant expertise at the College and to foster the growing digital community within the College so that they can work together more effectively.

6 UK University Aberdeen Dot.rural dot.rural is the RCUK Digital Economy Hub focusing on the rural digital economy. Rural areas have specific characteristics that create challenges around issues such as quality of life and wealth creation. These include: small, often dispersed populations; narrow and uneven channels of information flow; rapid change in population structures and economic activity bases; and restricted access to digital infrastructure. We believe that rural areas of the UK can, through the user-led application of digital technology, be more economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. Our aim is to harness the Hub's expertise with a range of partners to realise this ambition.

7 UK University of Nottingham, UK Horizon Digital Economy Research Welcome to Horizon Digital Economy Research. Established in 2009, this venture represents an initial £40 million investment by Research Councils UK (RCUK), The University of Nottingham and over 100 academic and industrial partners; in both a Research Hub and Doctoral Training Centre within the RCUK Digital Economy programme. Building on the Digital Britain plan, Horizon research focuses on the role of 'always on, always with you' ubiquitous computing technology. Our aim is to investigate the technical developments needed if electronic information is to be controlled, managed and harnessed - for example, to develop new products and services for societal benefit.

8 UK National Institute of Economic and Social Research The National Institute of Economic and Social Research is Britain's longest established independent research institute, founded in 1938. The vision of our founders was to carry out research to improve understanding of the economic and social forces that affect people's lives, and the ways in which policy can bring about change. The Institute is independent of all party political interests. We receive no core funding from government and are not affiliated to any single university, although our staff regularly undertake projects in collaboration with leading academic institutions. Institute staff are organised into four groups: macroeconomics and finance; employment; productivity, innovation and skills; and labour markets and disadvantage. We carry out research across 18 themes, which bring together researchers across the four groups, with expertise in a range of research methods, including quantitative and qualitative approaches. Our research themes reflect key areas of policy. They include health and well-being, policy evaluation, welfare, migration, inequality poverty and disadvantage, families early years and early intervention, education training and skills and employment policy and practice.

9 UK Newcastle & Dundee Universities Social inclusion through the digital economy (SiDE) Poor health, disability, family breakdown, poverty and unemployment are just some of the reasons why people of all ages may become marginalised from society and may lack the skills, confidence or opportunities to access and benefit from digital technologies that have the potential to transform their lives. SiDE Research Hub aims to tackle social exclusion by making it easier for people to access the life-changing benefits offered by digital technologies. Research will address four fields where digital technologies and the building of a truly inclusive digital economy could deliver major social benefits: connected home and community, accessibility, inclusive transport services; and creative industries.

10 US Leonard N. Stern School of Business, US Center for Digital Economy Research The Center for Digital Economy Research has been in existence in one form or another since 1980. Originally part of the Information Systems Department at Stern, it was renamed the Center for Information Intensive Organizations in 1997; and then the name was changed in 2001 to the Center for Digital Economy Research to align it with a school-wide initiative focused on the digital economy. Center faculty conduct research on information technology in business. The focus of much of this research is on the digital media and financial services industries with particular emphasis on electronic commerce and electronic markets. CeDER currently has four research tracks: business intelligence and data mining; IT economics; technology-enabled organizational forms and relations; and: interactive marketing.

11 US University of Maryland Center for Digital Innovation, Technology, and Strategy (DIGITS) The Center for Digital Innovation, Technology, and Strategy serves to leverage intellectual capital across academia, industry, and government. The center focuses on the study of emerging digital technologies and the impacts of digital innovations on business functions, firm strategies, and policy across a number of industry verticals. The center's mission is to disseminate scholarly research, to connect research with practice and policy, and to foster experiential learning for students.

12 US MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy The Initiative on the Digital Economy is committed to breaking new ground in the study of the digital revolution and its profound impact on society, work, and the economy. We are developing a constant stream of research results on critical topics, organized around our four key pillars, or subject areas: • Productivity, Employment, and Inequality • New Digital Business Models • Big Data • Social Analytics

13 US University of Massachusetts Amherst National Center for Digital Government The National Center for Digital Government (NCDG) seeks to build global research capacity, to advance practice, and to strengthen the network of researchers and practitioners engaged in building and using technology in government. NCDG's mission is to build global research capacity, to advance practice, and to strengthen the network of researchers and practitioners engaged in building and using technology and government. The goal of NCDG is to apply and extend the social sciences for research at the intersection of governance, institutions and information technologies. For more information about NCDG, please read our Vision and Objective statements. And be sure to check out the News section for NCDG happenings.



Since 2008 the UK has invested £150m in to The Research Council's UK Digital Economy Theme to rapidly realise the transformational impact of digital technologies on aspects of community life, cultural experiences, future society, and the economy. Its four challenge areas are:

- Sustainable Society In sustainable societies of the future, people will be able to make informed choices. Improved delivery of information and services will foster changes in behaviour to minimise the negative impact of our activities.

- Communities and Culture Communities, participation and culture are changing in the digital age. It is important that we ensure digital interaction enhances, not replaces face to face interactions.

- New Economic Models In an increasingly global economy, as new companies and individuals use digital technologies to innovate, the market can change rapidly. New business models are being created to adapt and take advantage of the opportunities in the digital world.

- IT as a Utility. Digital infrastructure should be so simple, accessible and reliable that it seems invisible. In delivering this, questions need to be answered about whether people will trust it, how to ensure privacy is respected and how to pay for it.

A 2012 review of the program found that the cross-disciplinary nature of digital economy research is challenging, as are the communication and engagement program needed to ensure maximum research impact.



The Pearcey Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation established by individuals from within the ICT industry who are keen to promote a unifying dialogue between members of the industry, government and the community at large. In making this proposal, the Pearcey Foundation's intention is to act as a catalyst to create a lasting institution that will result in more effective policies and strategies for the promotion and take-up of ICT within the digital economy.

Other than acting as a catalyst and initial steward for the initiative, the Pearcey Foundation does not seek a continued formal role in managing the institute, and anticipates an independent board drawn from relevant stakeholders to undertake this role. The initial steps are for the government to allocate some seed funding to develop the concept, to form a steering committee drawn from industry, academia and government to guide the institutes' formation, to create a business plan, and to seek expressions of interest from potential host organisations.

Given endowment funding, individual research grants, in-kind commitments and fee for service work, it is believed the institute will be self-sustaining in the long term, and the quality of its research work creates a substantial return on investment for all stakeholders, in the long term.

Our request, however, is that the centre be known as The Pearcey Research Institute for the Digital Economy (PRIDE), after Dr. Trevor Pearcey, one of the original visionaries for the Australian ICT industry. Trevor was the architect and team leader responsible for the design and construction of Australia's first (and the world's fourth) digital computer, CSIRAC in 1949. He is considered by many to be the father of the ICT industry in Australia (refer to Attachment 1 and for details related to his contribution to the Australian ICT industry).

This submission was prepared by members of the Pearcey Foundation acting in their personal capacities including the following:

  • Mr Wayne Fitzsimmons, Chair, Pearcey Foundation Director, M-Group Pty Ltd, 0418 382 625
  • Mr Charles Lindop, Co-Chair of NSW Committee Director, ITFC Pty Ltd0419 224 214
  • Dr Peter Thorne National Committee Consultant 0400 324 365
  • Mr Ian Dennis Emeritus Chair, Pearcey Foundation Executive Director, CIIER Inc 0412 588 138
  • Mr. Len Rust, NSW Committee Director, Dialog Technology Management, 0413 588 728
  • Mr. Rick Harvey Victorian Committee CTO ArkpX Melbourne 0418 113 555

Through iterative discussions this proposal has the general support of most digital technology industry stakeholders including the Australian Information Industry (AIIA), the Australian Computer Society (ACS), Telecommunications Society, National ICT Australia (NICTA) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).


Written by Professor Peter Thorne of the University of Melbourne (February 1998)

Dr Trevor Pearcey, who died on Tuesday 27 January, pioneered computing in Australia. Born in the United Kingdom, he graduated in 1940 from Imperial College with first class honours in physics and mathematics. He terminated his Ph.D. studies because of the war and joined the Air Defence Research Development Establishment.

Late in 1945, Pearcey came to Australia to work at the Radiophysics Division of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). In 1948 he, with Maston Beard, commenced the design of a stored program electronic computer. This machine, the CSIR Mark I, was developed largely independently of work then underway in Britain and the US. The Mark I ran its first program in November 1949. It was almost certainly the fourth stored-program electronic computer in the world and the first outside Britain and the US (see history). The MkI was transferred to the University of Melbourne in 1955 and renamed CSIRAC. CSIRAC was the first computer in an Australian University and the first in Victoria. It provided a computing service to scientists, engineers and the Melbourne business community until 1964. CSIRAC still exists intact, making it the oldest surviving electronic computer in the world. It was a matter of regret to Pearcey that Australia did not capitalise on these early successes. However, CSIRAC played a major role as a training ground for many of the men and women who were to lead the computer revolution in Australia.

Pearcey participated in the design of several other notable Australian-designed and constructed computers. He was the original architect of the CSIRO computing facility of the '60s, leading to the establishment of the CSIRO Division of Computing Research and the nationwide CSIRONET system.

After a brief period with Control Data Corporation, Dr Pearcey became the first Dean of Computing at Caulfield Institute of Technology (later Chisholm Institute and now a campus of Monash University). Apart from his pioneering work with computers, Trevor Pearcey was a prodigious publisher of scholarly papers. His interests included work in radio propagation, physical optics, scheduling of air traffic, crystallography, viscous flow and classes of non-linear systems that exhibit what is now referred to as chaos. His collected works for the D.Sc. awarded to him by the University of Melbourne in 1971, comprise three volumes of telephone-book thickness, totalling almost 1800 pages. Among these papers is an article, published in the Australian Journal of Science in February 1948, which may be considered prescient. Pearcey wrote; "…in the non-mathematical field there is wide scope for the use of the techniques in such things as filing systems. It is not inconceivable that an automatic encyclopaedic service operated through the national teleprinter or telephone system, will one day exist." This was written long before the CSIR MkI, databases, the Internet and the World Wide Web.

In recent years, Dr Pearcey lived on the Mornington Peninsula, south of Melbourne. He kept in touch by Email with colleagues and friends (particularly those who are documenting Australia's early achievements in computing). It is fitting that he has been able to do this by means of the technology that he pioneered."