With NBN launched way ahead of Australia’s mainland capitals, lower property prices, a less transient workforce, not to mention low traffic congestion and a great lifestyle, it’s not surprising Tasmania, more usually known for its stunning beaches and festivals, is being touted as the next silicon valley.

ICT companies and start-ups are popping up everywhere as entrepreneurs move their ventures from the mainland to Australia’s most southern state. With lower running costs and support from local and federal government it’s not surprising.

Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull’s announcement of tax incentives for the “Ideas Boom” are designed to encourage the formation of startups. They provide $1.1 billion over four years into an innovation and science agenda. This includes a $200 million CSIRO Innovation Fund to support investments in start-ups. Tasmania’s information communication technology sector is now worth almost $2 billion, largely thanks to well-established local businesses.

Backing this up, the Tasmanian State Government is providing significant support to the IT industry. In early 2016 alone, it committed $500,000 to support ICT start-up hubs in Tasmania’s southern capital, Hobart, and in Launceston in the state’s north and there is a plethora of grants and other assistance to start-ups and IT initiatives around the state to lure ventures to the state.

Tasmania’s software, application and web development businesses continue to compete successfully on the world stage as a result of a quality stream of intelligent, motivated young people wanting to succeed in the sector. Many have been educated at the University of Tasmania (UTAS).

UTAS PhD candidates and co-founders of games and app company, Secret Lab, Paris Buttfield-Addison and Jon Manning, have both worked in Silicon Valley but decided to base their business in Hobart. Lured by the promise of superfast broadband, Manning says they have found that Tasmania is a better place to run their business. ‘What’s more we’ve found that [it’s] a much nicer place to be.’

Anderson Morgan is a northern Tasmanian business lead by UTAS graduate Dean Winter. The company recently landed a $100 million contract to install wi-fi internet systems in 400 sites across the US and Canada and is anticipating further success.

Andy How, from Techquity, an Australian investment firm specializing in technology-based companies, says it’s not just costs and support that are attracting people here. Tasmania’s location off the mainland is also a drawcard: ‘When it comes down to testing software and marketing initiatives and new technologies, having a restricted geography allows organisations to test [their ventures and products] with absolute accuracy’.

Joel Harris of telecommunications business TasmaNet says there has already been international interest from companies wanting to research and develop technology in the state. “We already have three or four major international companies talking with us at the moment about replicating what we’re doing with Extreme Networks.”

The NBN rollout will attract more investment as well as create jobs as it works as a link to the booming ICT industry in Tasmania, says Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce’s Michael Bailey.

“It provides a real window into new opportunities and new business chances for business in the state, so I think we could see increased employment in those sectors.

So if you’ve got an interest in ICT, maybe you don’t need to bolt off to Silicon Valley after all. Kick off your career with an ICT degree at the University of Tasmania and hook into the young and vibrant network in Tasmania.

Check out these promising courses offered by UTAS now. http://www.utas.edu.au/courses/study/computing-and-it