Google has announced it will invest AU$1 billion over five years into its new Australian Digital Future Initiative.
The Digital Future Initiative will focus on creating new jobs and building Australia’s technology fundamentals, with the funds to be invested into building Australia’s technology talent, digital infrastructure, and developing tech partnerships, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said.
As part of investing in building Australia’s technology talent, Google will create its first research hub in the country. As part of building that hub, Google will create a team of local researchers and engineers that will use AI processes to explore job creation, education, and training.
During the Digital Future Initiative’s announcement, US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Michael Goldman touted the initiative would also create an additional 28,057 jobs in Australia and close to AU$6.5 billion in GDP growth.
Goldman also spoke about how the new Google initiative would allow for more technology integration between Australia and the United States.
“You’ve heard a lot about submarines lately. Well, I’d like to posit that the AUKUS arrangement, it’s about more than submarines as deeply consequential as that is. It’s about technology sharing, it’s about trust, it’s about enabling our two peoples to reach their fullest potential across a whole range of exciting technologies,” Goldman added.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who also appeared at the announcement, said the AU$1 billion was a vote of confidence for ensuring the national security of Australia and its allies.
The initiative’s investment into digital infrastructure will have a particular focus on cloud computing, with Pichai saying cloud would help Australian companies grow in every part of the economy.
Google’s Digital Future Initiative will also focus on building new local tech partnerships, with the tech giant already entering agreements to work with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to explore clean energy, natural hazard management, and protect the Great Barrier Reef, and Macquarie University to research quantum computing.
CSIRO CEO Larry Marshall said he hoped the initiative would help improve Australia’s lacklustre commercialisation capabilities.
“As brilliant as our science and amazing inventions [are], like you know, Wi-Fi, we didn’t build a company in Australia to manufacture these chips,” Marshall said.
“There are 9 billion devices in the world using this Australian technology, but not many jobs here as a result, so we want to learn from that. And next time we have an amazing breakthrough to actually grow the jobs here.”
Along with announcing Digital Future Initiative, Google also launched its expanded Sydney office on Tuesday.