Google Launches $1 Billion Power Play To Enhance Australia’s Digital Capabilities

Google Launches $1 Billion Power Play To Enhance Australia’s Digital Capabilities

Google has announced it will invest $1 billion over five years in Australia in what is considered the tech giant’s largest investment project in the country to date.

The Digital Future Initiative will see Google enhance Australia’s digital economy by building the country’s first Google research hub, broadening cloud capacity, and forming partnerships with the CSIRO and other Australian universities to consolidate research in areas of national interest, such as Great Barrier Reef health and artificial intelligence.

Google and Alphabet chief executive Sundar Pichai even appeared at the Digital Future Initiative launch on Tuesday morning via video link from the US saying the program had “immense potential”.

“We believe a strong digital future is one where everyone has access to technology and the skills to use it; where the internet economy fulfils its immense potential,” Pichai said.

“Australia can help lead the world’s next wave of innovation, harnessing technology to improve lives, create jobs, and make progress.”

Prime minister Scott Morrison, who also attended the Tuesday event at Google’s newly expanded Pyrmont offices in Sydney, shared Pichai’s enthusiasm, saying the immense investment project was a “billion dollar  vote of confidence” in Australia’s economy.

ScoMo commented: “Sundar and I have talked many, many times, about my desire for Australia to be front and centre in the changes that are occurring, and I genuinely appreciate what they are making here in Australia over the next five years.

“Today’s announcement by Google demonstrates that we are taking the right approach, and it recognises the digital leadership that is necessary for Australia to emerge as a top digital economy by 2030, not only in the role the government needs to play in enabling and supporting, but more importantly, recognising that it is great private capital investors and entrepreneurs that actually will drive this change.”

The new initiative represents an easing of tensions between the federal government and the global tech giant, who, earlier this year, threatened to pull their services from Australia after the Federal Government passed a world-first law forcing tech behemoths like Google and Facebook to pay media companies for their news content.

Google Australia managing director, Mel Silva (featured image), who previously told a Senate hearing the laws were “unworkable” was far more optimistic this time around.

Silva outlined particular ventures currently underway such as the AI-assisted underwater analysis of crown-of-thorn starfish in the Great Barrier Reef, and the expansion of cloud infrastructure across Melbourne.

“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.”

Silva also said the new Pyrmont-based research hub – according to Google’s own economic analysis – will produce up to 28,000 jobs.

CSIRO CEO Dr Larry Marshall also attended the event, lauding Google’s new five-year partnership with the national science agency.

“Imagine what other seemingly impossible problems we’ll solve together by putting our heads together,” Dr Marshall said.

“CSIRO science partnered with Google’s tech can make amazing things happen.”

CSIRO and Google had previously collaborated on inhibiting the spread of mosquito plagues in areas heavily affected by the malaria and zika viruses.

“The seeds we plant today will inspire the next generation of great minds to grow here and to stay here,” Dr Marshall said.

“We’ll create new technology partnerships to help solve Australian and global challenges, working with the CSIRO team to explore clean energy and protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

“We look forward to standing with Google to launch more of these bold missions.”

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