Australia positioned to become tech hub

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As the tech giants front a Senate inquiry this week to deny tax avoidance nearmap Limited (ASX:NEA) CEO Simon Crowther says Australia is poised to become a tech hub. 
 
Global tech giants front Senate
 
Australian executives from Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) have faced questioning about their tax practices. 
 
Addressing the inquiry New South Wales Labor Senator Sam Dastyari, and Chairman of the Senate Economics References Committee, claimed structures created by the companies have been designed to minimise tax obligation in Australia. 
 
Google Australia Managing Director Maile Carnegie defended the company’s structure, advising Google globally pays a tax rate of 19.3 per cent. 
 
“We're not opposed to paying tax, what we're opposed to is being uncompetitive,” Ms Carnegie said.
 
Apple Australia’s boss Tony King said the company’s $270 million local app market is evidence of the company’s commitment to Australia. 
 
“Apple Australia pays all taxes it owes, in accordance with Australian law,” Mr King said.
 
As the inquiry continues Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Professor of Taxation Kerrie Sadiq has called for a crackdown on “morally wrong” corporate tax avoidance. 
 
Ms Sadiq says Australia must take action or multinationals will continue to get around inadequate and out of date laws. 
 
Innovation key to growth
 
Australia’s growing tech and start-up culture is poised to create a new tech hub, according to nearmap Limited (ASX:NEA) CEO Simon Crowther. 
 
The chief of the visual analytics company has observed more tech positions coming into play and more people trying to start tech companies.
 
In the 4.5 years Mr Crowther has been leading nearmap he says a growing amount of tech companies have come to the market and become increasingly important to the index itself. 
 
Mr Crowther has called on the government to foster a more entrepreneurial culture and embrace the ability to also fail and learn from those failures.
 
“Culturally we need to support that and to be seen to be supporting that more than just becoming a branch office economy for the multinationals setting up here.” said Mr Crowther.  
 
Mr Crowther believes people should be encouraged to take risks and has highlighted Atlassian as an Australian tech success story which has set the gold standard for how to grow a business. 
 
“If you can get yourself into that position, as a company inside a customer’s work flows, like Salesforce, like Atlassian, you’ve got the basis of a long term business success story.” 
 
To watch more of the interview click here
 
Tech acquisitions
 
Telstra Corporation Limited (ASX:TLS) has inked a deal to buy a provider of media services for broadcasters in Australasia called Globecast Australia. Australia’s biggest telecommunication company expects the acquisition will develop deeper capabilities in media services for its customers in the broadcasting industry. 
 
Online job outsourcing company Freelancer Limited (ASX:FLN) has announced another acquisition as it accelerates its global expansion. Freelancer will buy the assets of Projectlinkr.com, an online marketplace focused mainly on the Spanish speaking market with more than 140,000 registered freelancers. 
 
Singapore Telecommunications Limited (ASX:SGT) will pay $810 million for US managed-security specialist Trustwave. The deal will expand Singtel’s portfolio of cloud based solutions and cyber security business adding more than 3 million business subscribers to the firm. 
 
Partnerships
 
Bell Financial Group Limited's (ASX:BFG) online broking business Bell Direct will partner with marketing technology service provider Rewardle Holdings Limited (ASX:RXH). The project will explore the use of the Rewardle Platform to provide Bell Direct clients with hyperlocal rewards across the Rewardle Merchant Network based on their activity with Bell Direct. 
 
Outdoor advertising company APN Outdoor Group Limited (ASX:APO) has struck a deal with cross-track digital advertising system owner and operator XTD Limited (ASX:XTD). The deal is for the advertising rights for XTD’s new system within the Brisbane metro rail network which will is expected to be operational in June. 
 
TZ Limited (ASX:TZL) has inked a memorandum of understanding with a US-based storage innovator called Spacesaver Corporation. The technology company says the MOU is for the integration of its smart locking device hardware and software solutions into a range of Spacesaver storage solutions. 
 
Results
 
TPG Telecom Limited (ASX:TPM) has boosted its annual earnings forecast after reporting interim profit growth. The telco’s net profit rose 18 per cent to $106.7 million in the first half of the 2015 financial year. The results came just one week after iiNet Limited’s (ASX:IIN) board backed a takeover offer from TPG Telecom which has since run into opposition. 
 
iProperty Group Limited (ASX:IPP) has reported record collections and positive quarterly cash flow and says it has an excellent growth trajectory for the remainder of the year. The owner of property portal sites and related real estate services posted its highest collections ever recorded of almost $7.5 million. 
 
Contracts
 
Empired Limited (ASX:EPD) has won a contract with Toyota Motor Corporation Australia.
The IT services provider will work on Toyota’s core customer facing Microsoft platforms from next month. 
 
Launches
 
MGM Wireless Limited (ASX:MWR) has announced it will launch its Pinpoint Family Locator app to coincide with the much-anticipated release of the Apple Watch. The mobile technology specialist says Pinpont can issue automated alerts when a family member moves from a predetermined location using the iPhone alone or iPhone with the Apple Watch. 
 
Biotech milestones
 
Shares in Phylogica Limited (ASX:PYC) have surged since having reporting a cancer pilot study success. The drug discovery group has also entered a licensing agreement with a UK based private biotechnology company called PhoreMost Limited aiming to identify and develop small molecule cancer drugs. 
 
Novogen Limted (ASX:NRT) says it has key data proving its experimental anti-cancer drug Cantrixil is highly effective at killing ovarian cancer cells. The company also says studies have showed its experimental drug Anisina kills off melanoma cells irrespective of their mutational status.
 
Phosphagenics Limited (ASX:POH) has inked a license deal to expand its vitamin E phosphate-based animal nutrition products to the UK and Ireland. The drug delivery company has granted Integrated Animal Health a four-year exclusive license to manufacture and sell the products. 
 
Covata Limited (ASX:CVT) has inked a ten-year global licence deal with networking giant Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO). Founder and CEO Trent Telford has described the agreement as a monumental step in terms of both validation of Covata’s technology and its capacity to deliver world-class deals.
 
PhytoTech Medical Limited (ASX:PYL) has announced a merger of equals with Canada’s MMJ Biosceience Inc. The transaction will see PhytoTech acquire 100 per cent of the issued capital of MMJ to create a global vertically integrated medical cannabis company. 
 
Mesoblast Limited (ASX:MSB) has welcomed news the Japanese Patent Office has allowed a key patent for the use of its proprietary adult mesenchymal precursor cells. The regenerative medicine company says the patent is for the treatment of heart diseases, stroke and other vascular conditions.