Australian Entrepreneur space – Promoting Competitive Start-Ups

Not to sound repetitive but there is one thing that all good entrepreneurs have in common; they have their own unique selling proposition. It is what sets them apart from everyone else. No-one knows your business better than you do and as such, it is important that you find a way to stand out from the crowd. The old saying about starting something new is very true and so is the case with starting an Australian enterprise. Not to say that they had their ups and downs, just one thing they all had in common was lots of perseverance and a little bit of luck.

Start by looking at the current economic environment in Australia. It is a buyers market with businesses needing to sell. For businesses that need to raise funds, raising venture capital can be quite a struggle for them. Lenders are not just fighting for survival but also trying to prop up an economy that has suffered. In order to attract the type of venture capital needed, these companies need to develop a strong ecosystem. There are three main economic engines in Australia that are growing at a rapid pace and need a helping hand from entrepreneurs who are building an attractive, welcoming and vibrant ecosystem around them.

The first is telecommunications. Australia is a world leader in the manufacture of telecommunications equipment. Companies such as Global Access, Nortel and iiNet are setting the pace in the sector and creating a competitive edge for themselves. Australia is also home to many of the world’s best colleges and universities. For students looking at entrepreneurship, these factors are huge incentives. As an Australian entrepreneur, you want to be on a team with some of the brightest minds in the industry and you need to demonstrate you are an example of what it takes to succeed as a young entrepreneur.

The second engine in the economy is of course the tourism industry. It is no secret that Australia is one of the top destinations for international tourists. A major aspect of tourism is the accommodation side of the industry. If you can develop your hospitality skills, then you will have a leg up on the competition. One great way to showcase your knowledge is through a blog. A blog offers business owners the opportunity to engage directly with their consumers and display a personal approach to hospitality and showcasing your customer service skills.

The third major economic engine for an aspiring entrepreneur in Australia is the retail industry. Garone and Naomi have developed successful retail franchises in major cities around the country, including Sydney and Melbourne. Their success has been based on three key principles: commitment, creativity and marketing. Their franchisees have embraced the Australian way of doing business and have built a loyal customer base.

Garone and Naomi recognise that creating successful businesses requires a significant amount of funding. In order to obtain the funding they require, many entrepreneurs in this region of Australia utilise venture capital and angel investors to take them on as partners. Angel investors are a crucial part of the process for early stage entrepreneurs seeking venture capital and angel investors are well aware of the need for high quality, locally sourced information when sourcing potential funding.

Many entrepreneurs in this region of Australia have a genuine desire to start a business and implement an effective marketing strategy. They are also highly creative and have a flair for business development and innovation. As you might expect from a country as large as Australia, there are also a considerable number of start-up businesses looking to enter the entrepreneurial marketplace. One way that these new start-ups can be identified and tap into is by utilising the entrepreneurial hub concept.

Starting a business in this country requires funding so capital is often a fundamental requirement. This funding comes from various sources including banks and other financial institutions, venture capitalists and angels. As part of the national aspiration of succeeding in business, many aspiring entrepreneurs in this region are prepared to approach capital raising companies and invest their personal assets. The use of capital and the subsequent return on investment (ROI) for this type of venture is often a critical factor in the overall success or failure of an enterprise. Angel investors are a great resource for providing start-up capital and the knowledge and contacts required to identify suitable business opportunities.

ANZLIC Metadata Project background

The ANZLIC Metadata Project is a collaborative initiative between Australian and New Zealand jurisdictions and government agencies. ANZLIC is committed to harmonising existing efforts to develop a single metadata profile for Australia and New Zealand and has established a project team to deliver a metadata profile and entry tool. The project is being managed on behalf of ANZLIC by the WALIS Office.

The outputs of the Project include:

  • a single ANZLIC Metadata Profile that is consistent with the new international metadata standard.
  • a freely available ISO compliant metadata entry tool based on the new Profile.

why is ANZLIC developing a metadata profile?

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) published an international geographic information standard for metadata (known as ISO 19115:2003) in May 2003. The current metadata standard used in Australia is the ANZLIC Metadata Guidelines: Core metadata elements for geographic data in Australia and New Zealand. Version 2 (February 2001). This no longer complies with international standards.

There is an increasing demand around Australia and New Zealand to develop a new metadata profile based on the new international metadata standard ISO 19115, and various jurisdictions are already developing new profiles.

In response to these initiatives ANZLIC held two Metadata Workshops in February 2005 to harmonise efforts. All jurisdictions around Australia and New Zealand were represented at these workshops and there was general consensus amongst participants that existing efforts be harmonised to develop a new national metadata profile.

who’s involved in the project?

The Project Team comprises representatives from the ANZLIC national office, the Australian Government Office of Spatial Data Management (OSDM), the WALIS Office, Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE), the Australian Government Bureau of Rural Sciences (BRS), Geoscience Australia (GA), the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) and the Australian Insitute of Marine Science (AIMS).

Mike Bradford, Metadata Project Manager (WA Department of Land Information)
Jenny Bone (OSDM)
John Hockaday (GA)
Dave Connell (AAD)
Garry Mahon (DSE)
Ross Honeyman (DSE)
Scott Bainbridge (AIMS)
Evert Bleys (BRS)
Richard Murcott (LINZ)

more information

For more information about the ANZLIC Metadata Project contact:

Mike Bradford
Manager, Business Programs, Information Access Division, Dept of Land Information, WA
Phone: 08 9273 7518
Email: Mike.Bradford@dli.wa.gov.au

report on the ANZLIC Metadata Workshops February 2005

background

The catalyst for the two ANZLIC metadata workshops was the release by the Office of Spatial Data Management (OSDM) of the Australian Government’s recommended profile for the international geospatial metadata standard ISO 19115. Considerable work had also been undertaken to develop complementary profiles for New Zealand, Western Australia (WALIS) and the Australian Marine Community (Australian Oceanographic Data Centre (AODC) Joint Facility).

With the various jurisdictions in the process of developing their own profiles for the new international geospatial metadata standard (ISO 19115), ANZLIC had recognised the opportunity to (potentially) harmonise these efforts.

attendance

Over 45 people attended the Perth workshop, including representation from WA, NT, NZ, ACT, Australian and New Zealand government agencies, WA local government, utilities and spatial industry.

Over 50 people attended the Melbourne workshop with representation from Victorian, Queensland, Tasmanian, NSW, ACT SA and Australian government agencies, NSW and Victorian local government and utilities, various spatial industry representatives and academia.

topics

Three key issues were addressed at the workshops:

  1. ANZLIC Profile – review jurisdictional developments
  2. Metadata Tools – functional requirements and development
  3. Web Services Metadata – linkage to ANZLIC profile and the ASDD

ANZLIC profile

The three jurisdictional developments provide a sound base to develop a national profile. While there was no formal coordination to date between the various profile developments, the jurisdictions had informally liaised with each other ensuring that harmonisation was possible between the three developments. The differences between the OSDM and other developments was in the area of marine community needs (managed by the AODC Joint Facility team), organisational data management needs (WALIS) and national e-Govt requirements (New Zealand).

The workshops identified that the Australian Government profile provided a sound common base between the four developments and could be seen as similar to the Page 0 concept previously developed for the ANZLIC Version 1 & 2 Metadata standards. This approach enabled the other jurisdictional developments to be considered as expanding on the core elements identified by OSDM’s Metadata Working Group.

The other ANZLIC jurisdictions had been awaiting the endorsement of the ISO standard and for ANZLIC to initiate the development of the ANZLIC profile of the ISO metadata standard. All jurisdictions at the two workshops indicated support for the development of a national profile (ANZLIC Version 3) based on the jurisdictional developments.

metadata entry/update/export tools

Each workshop identified the need for compliant metadata tools to be developed in parallel with the implementation of an ANZLIC ISO 19115 profile. It was acknowledged that the ANZLIC MET Tool based on Microsoft ACCESS had been instrumental in gaining industry adoption of the current ANZLIC standard, encouraging organisations to collect metadata and enabling the quantity of records in the ASDD to increase.

The workshop attendees noted that with the non-continuing support of the ANZLIC MET Tool, there was no industry supported free-to-air metadata tools that were compliant with the ANZLIC 2 Metadata standard (DTD Version 1.3), with the result that organisations were increasingly finding it difficult to maintain or collect new metadata.

There was recognition that ANZLIC was not the relevant body to maintain and support software and that the development of compliant tools would need to sought from organisations who had a long term business requirement to maintain and support the software (whether commercial or internal business needs).

Western Australia had developed functional specifications based on input from a number of state and local government agencies and private sector. WA was now looking at co-funding the development of a tool in support of their common operational needs. The specifications were available for other jurisdictions to review and comment on. WA was assessing various local developments, commercial tools and open source ISO compliant developments to see if they could provide an effective and sustainable base to develop their tool.

AODC have developed technical specifications for the development of a tool for the marine community. The workshops explored the option for co-development of a tool based on both the marine and generic community needs. This was subsequently approved by the AODC Joint Facility team.

The feedback from the two workshops was that industry should be encouraged to develop compliant metadata tools as part of their commercial software or open source offerings. ANZLIC would need to circulate the metadata and metadata tool specifications to the industry and liaise with ASIBA to assess opportunities for the industry to support the objective and opportunity for compliant metadata tools. It was recognised that modest ongoing funding would likely be needed for the development and maintenance of open source tools.

Attendees suggested that ANZLIC fund the development of a top level open source metadata entry, update, export and validation service to enable organisations to test compliance of tools with the ANZLIC profile. This was seen as essential in supporting the implementation and adoption of a new national metadata profile.

web services metadata

Simon Cox (Perth) and Rob Atkinson (Melbourne) provided an update on geospatial web services metadata implementations based on the Open Geospatial Consortium’s OpenGIS® Catalog Services Specification 2.0 and ISO19119.

The concept of web services metadata and catalog services was seen as a topic that was not yet fully understood by the general spatial community. Both presenters noted that the specification required the development of web services to help define the implementation aspects of the catalog specifications. There was consensus that this specification was important for the future development of the Australian Spatial Data Infrastructure (ASDI), but that it would be at least the end of 2005 until there was greater clarity on the implementation requirements.

The linkage to the ASDD in terms of geospatial web service discovery will also need to be addressed once the operational user requirements of the web services catalog services are advanced.

It was noted that there was a considerable number of attendees at the Melbourne workshop (and a smaller percentage at the Perth workshop) who were unaware of, or had used the ASDD. Participants recognised the importance of the ASDD but encouraged ANZLIC to ensure there was greater promotion, improved user interface (Google type interface) and linkage from the metadata to the actual data (either by download or via OGC compliant web mapping or feature services).

summary of conclusions

  • The workshops agreed there was a requirement for delivery of a national metadata profile compliant with the ISO metadata standard under an “ANZLIC 3” label. It was felt that there is a requirement to complete this activity by the end of September 2005;
  • The workshops felt that the development of the ANZLIC profile should be largely based on the existing Australian Government profile with additional inputs from NZ and WA. WA, the Australian Government, NZ, VIC and the marine community (through the AODC Joint Facility) put up their hands to participate in this activity;
  • The workshops agreed that a free-to-air, open source tool be developed in conjunction with the marine community to enable metadata entry, update and export in accord with the new ANZLIC metadata profile of the ISO metadata standard. There is a requirement to also complete this activity by the end of September 2005. A compilation of existing metadata tool requirements is a precursor to this development;
  • The workshops advocated the development of a companion outreach and promotions plan to communicate developments in the profile’s development, documentation and simple tool development;
  • The workshops encouraged the inclusion, where possible, of the OGC Catalog Services 2 specification elements that will enable ‘ANZLIC 3’ to be flexible for extension to deliver web and catalog services as these are developed and refined in the near future. While it was felt that these specifications aren’t completely finalised at the moment, there are certainly core elements that can be addressed in the ANZLIC profile.

additional references

Australian Government’s recommended profile for ISO19115

Draft New Zealand Geospatial Metadata Standard

Open Geospatial Consortium’s OpenGIS® Catalog Services Specification 2.0

Presentations from the ANZLIC Metadata Workshops (Perth & Melbourne, February 2005)

Australia’s Economic Outlook: A Key Indicator

The recent reports on New Zealand and Australia economic performance have been very different. In New Zealand, the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita growth over the last three quarters of recession has been very low, from 1.5 percent to 0.6 percent, while Australia’s economy contracted by three percentage points over the same period. As the New Zealanders digs out of the current recession, they will find that they are still enjoying some of the best levels of economic freedom enjoyed by most modern countries. Australia’s experience has been much more mixed. While the resources boom is coming to an end, corporate tax rates are rising, real estate values have declined, and overall consumer confidence has declined.

There are two major drivers of economic growth in New Zealand compared to Australia. The first is the role of the government in the economy. The New Zealand government has been careful to stimulate the economy by keeping taxes and fees at reasonable levels, reducing the size of the population, and using sound fiscal policy to allow the economy to function well without relying on future international aid. In contrast, Australia’s government is cutting budget expenditure, raising taxes, and changing the rules for businesses to get a bigger piece of the national pie. As a result, businesses are feeling the pinch, not just in relation to profitability but also in relation to the demand from consumers.

The second driver of Australia economic performance is the extent of government involvement in the economic process. The New Zealand government has taken a hands-off approach to the economy. Its main concern has been to keep the government deficit as low as possible, so that it can attract investment through capital gains and interest rates are low enough to encourage investment. The approach to business hasn’t been any different. While the government has reined in its tax expenditures, it has not altered its policy of encouraging business through regulation of the market. Australia’s situation isn’t quite as bleak, but it is far from perfect.

This is because the New Zealand government has made some astute decisions to ensure that its companies remain competitive in global markets. For instance, it has developed a highly efficient and competitive tax system that lets businesses structure their operations to minimize their taxable exposure. It has also developed an impressive industrial property development strategy that has led to the creation or building of thousands of new jobs, as well as the release of enormous amounts of free government money for business owners. Finally, it has developed some of the most progressive industrial policies in the world. These have led to a marked reduction in Australia’s overall taxation burden and have helped businesses flourish despite the global economic downturn.

Australia hasn’t gone down that route yet, though it seems to be heading that way. It has, however, adopted a moderately aggressive fiscal policy that will continue to pressure businesses to invest. That means higher taxes and fees on businesses in the short run, but potentially lower costs later on. Many companies view that as a good combination and have looked to raise funds amongst other options.

The country has also kept rates low for a number of years now and has maintained an effective exchange rate with the dollar. It has done so since the early nineties, when Australia was just beginning to recover from one of its worst cycles ever. While the currency was low, the cost of doing business in Australia was exceptionally high. With the massive slew of tax cuts and monetary stimulus measures in place, those costs are starting to erode. Australia’s trade surplus has also returned to pre-recession levels, which bodes well for Australian businesses.

The key to Australia’s continued economic growth lies in its ability to reorient its industries away from resources and toward knowledge-based service industries. This is a process that Australia has been slow to engage in, despite its rapid economic recovery. It took the likes of Microsoft and IBM to begin to pull up their sleeves and getting their businesses prepared for the future. Australia hasn’t yet done that. But it is starting to. There are official plans to roll out a new e-commerce platform in Australia by the end of the next year, in an effort to position Australia as a cutting-edge information and technology hub for the global market.

The other key element to Australia’s growth is the housing sector. It is starting to pick up momentum, which is a positive sign for an economy that has been so slow to pick up after being in a slump for so long. Combined with a strong economy and interest rates that are already on the incline, it looks like Australia is on the road to recovery. With further accommodative monetary policy measures in the offing, the Australian economy should continue on this path as it begins to climb out of the doldrums that have plagued it for the past few years.

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