Address to the innovationXchange

  • Speech, check against delivery

His Excellency, Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam Mr Huệ, Senator Claire Moore, Secretary of our Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Frances Adamson, our guests from Vietnam, representatives of partners of the innovationXchange, Heads of Mission, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

I extend to you all a very warm welcome to the Australian Government's innovationXchange located within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio.

I established the innovationXchange in 2015 to ensure that our development assistance program embraced the newest and most innovative thinking in relation to foreign aid. We wanted to embrace new thinking and creative ideas and the most cost effective way of delivering a development assistance program that generated economic growth and reduced poverty in the Indo-Pacific region.

Two years after the establishment of the innovationXchange I am proud to release this booklet which highlights our achievements and accomplishments over the last two years. I urge you to take a copy of our Achievements Report and read the detail of what we have done within the innovationXchange, the diversity and the range of projects and the outcomes, because we are a results-driven organisation.

Wherever I travel around the world and discuss the concept and the outcomes of the innovationXchange I am met with a great deal of enthusiasm. This is cutting-edge thinking and delivery in the area of development assistance.

I take this opportunity to pay tribute to Lisa Rauter who has headed up the innovationXchange from the outset and has been fundamental, instrumental, in the success of the innovationXchange over the last few years.

I am delighted that we have with us today Deputy Prime Minister Huệ because Australia and Vietnam have a strong and deep friendship and a growing strategic relationship. In the area of development assistance Australia has focussed on boosting Vietnam's economic growth through driving productivity measures and boosting skills and capability.

For example in one of our projects, the Climate Innovation Centre, Australia is providing support to about 50 small and medium Vietnamese enterprises through our embracing ideas to deal with climate change through market-based solutions and working with the private sector.

Of the many projects one caught my eye and it was a ridesharing online platform. The developers of this program identified the number of vacant seats in vehicles that were travelling around cities in Vietnam. Through the development of this online platform they're going to fill those vacant seats through ridesharing and they aim to have 500,000 vacant seats filled and that will reduce carbon emissions by 60,000 tonnes.

I'm delighted that there are representatives from the provinces in Vietnam for we are also undertaking development assistance projects in provincial areas. For example one successful provincial project is Viet-uc which is a prawn farm production project. CSIRO partnered with Viet-uc and there's been a transfer of technology and we now see prawn production in full swing.

So successful has this partnership been between Viet-uc, CSIRO, the Australian Government and Vietnam, that the business is now paying royalties to the CSIRO – that's a success!

To our friends from Vietnam, thank you for your attendance today and I look forward to spending more time with the Deputy Prime Minister later this afternoon.

Allow me to take this opportunity to make two further announcements in relation to the innovationXchange. First, a new innovationXchange program called Frontier Innovators. This is a $15 million program focussed on the Indo-Pacific whereby we will be providing support to start-ups and innovators to give them the opportunity to scale up successful projects that should be commercialised.

We expect to identify 15 innovators who can receive project funding of up to $100,000 to pilot, scale-up, their innovative ideas to drive development in the Indo-Pacific. This is recognition that government doesn't have all the answers and we need to harness the creative minds of innovators throughout our regions.

My second announcement is a partnership between GSMA Mobile for Development Fund and the United Kingdom and its Department of International Development. The Australian Government's innovationXchange will partner with GSMA and UK's Department of International Development to use mobile technologies to drive development outcomes in our region.

This will be a $5.6 million investment over three years into what will be called the Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund, of course the EAIF.

This will harness technology to solve some of the most intractable development problems and this is a unique opportunity for us to work with these magnificent partners to drive change.

GSMA has a mobile network of about 800 mobile operators around the world including Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. One of the ways we keep our thinking fresh and we keep on top of ideas – in fact we lead with ideas – is to second people from across the public service and from the private sector into the innovationXchange.

For example over the last few years we have had secondees from Google from the World Bank, from USAID and other private sector and government organisations from around the world.

I'm delighted to announce that GSMA will second a mobile technology expert into the innovationXchange to help us with our EAIF.

Ladies and gentlemen please take the time to meet with some of our innovationXchange innovators, read our Achievements booklet and take away, hopefully, an understanding of our creative, our innovative, our nimble and agile and cost effective the Australian Government Development Assistance Program is, and will be, within the Indo-Pacific region.

Happy innovating!

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