Malcolm Turnbull restores funding to big data research institute NICTA

Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Getty Images

Next month’s innovation statement will restore funding to the nation’s preeminent IT research institute, National Information Communications Technology Australia, according to a report in the Financial Review.

The organisation is currently pursuing research in big data and machine learning, as well as new ways to process visual data. It also partners extensively with startups and other businesses.

The 2014 federal budget only committed funds for two years for NICTA. $21.4 million in 2014–15 and $21.0 million in 2015–16.

From June 2016, then Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull insisted the organisation would need to move to a “self-sustaining funding model”.

“In recognition of NICTA’s maturity and current stage of development, the Government considers the time is approaching for NICTA to stand on its own feet from June 2016” Turnbull said at the time.

“The Government expects NICTA to pursue funding from private sector investment and research grants.”

There was considerable backlash against defunding NICTA. CEO Hugh Durrant-Whyte resigned following the cuts and a tour of the NICTA lab by German Chancellor Angela Merkel shortly after the cuts proved embarrassing for the government as German companies are research institutes are partners in several projects.

National Information Communications Technology Australia has been renamed Data61 and will be folded in to the CSIRO.

You can read more at the AFR.

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