Expanded cloud capabilities, a new research centre, and a partnership with the CSIRO will each have millions of dollars thrown at them by Google in Australia after the tech giant announced a new five-year future fund on Tuesday.
The Digital Future Initiative was announced by Google at its newly-expanded Sydney offices in Pyrmont, alongside Prime Minister Scott Morrison, where the company said it wanted to build on its local tech investments over the last 20 years by committing a further $1 billion to Australian tech over the next five years.
Google’s local spend will will invest heavily into improving Australia’s digital economy by building out cloud infrastructure, while also incubating local talent, and creating new research partnerships to “solve big challenges”.
Mel Silva, managing director at Google Australia, said the fund was created with an aim to accelerate Australia’s ascent to becoming a leading, global digital economy.
“The Digital Future Initiative is about bringing significant technology resources and capabilities to Australia, investing in the infrastructure that benefits people and businesses, and helping the best talent thrive here,” Silva said.
“A strong digital future creates opportunities, improves the everyday and enables the extraordinary — and we’d love to help Australia and Australians make the most of the opportunity and build for tomorrow,” she said.
Economic modelling produced by Henry Ergas and Green Square Associates suggests Google’s $1 billion local spend will create more than 6,500 new jobs, and support a further 28,000 total jobs around the country. The modelling also indicated that Google’s new fund will deliver $1.2 billion in direct investment, with an economic benefit of $6.7 billion.
As part of its investment in the digital economy, Google will invest millions into strengthen Australia’s cloud infrastructure, which the tech giant says is a major driver of Australian productivity.
At the announcement, Google said customers in Melbourne are already benefiting from early moves made to expand its cloud infrastructure across the city, where Australian businesses will have access to a more “secure and robust” platform for innovation and growth.
The fund also has its sights set on Australian-made tech and talent, as the local sector struggles with a sweeping labour shortage.
Google plans to strengthen Australia’s tech output and talent development with the establishment of “Google Research Australia”, which will assemble a fleet of local researchers who will focus on the ways AI can solve local issues.
As part of the partnership component of Google’s new future fund, the tech giant has also announced a multi-million partnership with the CSIRO to target natural hazard management, clean energy and protecting the health of the Great Barrier Reef.
CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall said the partnership is likely to spark an industry-wide trend across the innovation sector.
“CSIRO solves Australia’s greatest challenges through innovative science and technology, but our partnerships with industry are what makes those solutions real — because when industry innovates Australia grows,” Dr Marshall said.
“CSIRO’s science makes life better for every Australian, and when amplified by Google’s Technology it will catalyse collaborative projects across our entire national innovation system, driving opportunity for businesses of all sizes across every market.”
Another partnership, this time with Sydney’s Macquarie University, will aim to expand Australia’s breadth in quantum computing to deliver more efficient battery design and make “new scientific discoveries that were previously out of reach.”
Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said Australia is uniquely placed to help lead the world’s next wave of innovation, harnessing technology to improve lives and create jobs.
“To help, today we’re proud to make a five year, $1 billion commitment to launch the Digital Future Initiative to bring the benefits of technology to more Australians,” he said.
Silva said the investment is the largest the company has made since it arrived in the market back in 2002.
“Since we started our first office here in a Sydney lounge room in 2002, Australian talent and creativity has been central to Google’s success, with products like Google Maps born right here in Australia,” Silva said.
“Today, with the Digital Future Initiative, we’re making our largest single investment ever in Australia, aiming to strengthen local capabilities and help build Australia’s digital economy for the future.”
Alister Dias, vice president of Google Cloud in Australia and New Zealand said the fund would equip Australia’s digital economy with the foundations it needs to grow.
“From new cloud regions here in Australia to high-bandwidth and connectivity, every aspect of our infrastructure investment is a strong reflection of our commitment to help businesses scale, innovate faster and bring their ideas to life,” Dias said.