NSW govt will offer regulatory sandboxes to test new tech

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NSW govt will offer regulatory sandboxes to test new tech

Unveils state innovation strategy.

The NSW government will provide businesses in the state the ability to test out new technologies within a sandbox isolated from their regulatory obligations.

In its new innovation strategy, released today [pdf], the state government committed to an experimentation program designed to "accelerate the development of innovative solutions in NSW".

It is offering businesses the opportunity to apply for a sandbox position in order to test products, services, and business models that may be restricted by existing regulations.

Ssubmissions are now open to select the theme for the first regulatory sandbox.

The state Finance department has suggested specific technologies like blockchain as well as broader innovations in the energy, health, and agriculture sectors.

First the government will work out which specific state regulations are currently hampering organisations from introducing new services to the market, via submissions from interested parties. It will keep accepting submissions until December 21.

Once the theme of the first sandbox is decided, it will then open up applications in early 2017 for business to join.

It will assess applications for sandbox access based on impact - the economical, social, and environmental benefits to NSW - and readiness; whether the idea is ready to be implemented in the first half of 2017.

NSW Innovation Minister Victor Dominello said the regulatory sandboxes would provide innovators with a “safe harbour” for risk.

“When I say that government is inherently conservative that is not a political observation. Governments need to be in many ways conservative. You do not want governments being risky in the delivery of essential government services," he told an AIIA luncheon.

"But there still needs to be safe harbours where we can trial things within a regulatory sandbox to say 'if we change things here that would have a massive impact in relation to the 95 percent of services that we deliver'."

Dominello's office will essentially act as a broker with regulatory agencies on behalf of industry.

The innovation strategy also promises to introduce a digital "innovation concierge" on the government's new innovation.nsw.gov.au website to help users navigate access to information and people in government.

It will operate alongside a new ministerial innovation committee tasked with monitoring the implementation of the strategy, and so-called “shark tanks” made up of industry experts that will advise on whether innovative ideas should progress.

The government also pledged to develop programs in conjunction with industry and education providers to attract more "diverse, high-potential" students into STEM, including through the establishment of a STEM foundation.

With Andrew Colley

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