Simon Birmingham: Thanks very much for that introduction, and thank you all for coming along today. It's a real delight to be with you. And can I commence by also acknowledging Australia's traditional owners and in particular the Ngunnawal people, the traditional owners of the Canberra region and as Education Minister acknowledge that we continue to learn much more about the knowledge of Australia's Indigenous peoples, build upon that knowledge, and take it and shape it for a richer country for all Australians.
Can I particularly welcome you here to this, the awards presentation for the cyber security challenge. We know as a nation that cyber security challenges are real, and increasing as time goes by. We know as a nation that to succeed in the future we require innovative, driven individuals who have strong knowledge in areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. This knowledge is at the heart of the Government's National Innovation and Science Agenda. We want to make sure that we encourage more people to embrace the study of STEM subjects from their earliest years in the preschool environment, right through their schooling, and of course into the tertiary landscape. Because we know that around 70 per cent of the fastest growing jobs of the future will require sound STEM skills.
And that's why it's important that we support initiatives like this because it provides not just great knowledge to Government and an opportunity to explore an important issue like cyber security, but it provides a practical focal point and highlight that we can shine out to the rest of the nation in demonstrating some of the many diverse areas where STEM skills are important. In demonstrating some of the capacity and excellence that exists within Australian students and communities already in relation to STEM skills, and demonstrate the commitment of the Government to working with all sectors to enhance those STEM skills into the future.
And we really want to make sure that programs like this are run in a manner complimentary to our Innovation Agenda, and I praise the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and all of those who are partners to it for the success of it, because it really is now part of that integral overall program that within Government is seeing us invest record amounts over a long period of time in our research infrastructure capabilities change the way in which we provide research funding so that it enhances and encourages collaboration between non-research institutions and those in business, industry, or indeed the intelligence communities, defence companies, or the like. So that we invest more through our schooling system and the time and effort and the capabilities of our teachers, particularly ensuring our teachers have skills and training in maths that they're able to take through.
It's a comprehensive picture from an education perspective, but also from a perspective of trying to encourage more Australian businesses to innovate in the technological landscape. That's why we have established launching pads in San Francisco and Tel Aviv, and will do so in other parts of the world so that Australian entrepreneurs may wish to start their own tech start-up who may have skills that they're looking to develop, or products that they're looking to build and release to market, are in a position to be able to collaborate with others in technology centres around the rest of the world, and of course able to try to access funding from those various centres.
So thank you for participating in this program because it is a really credible example of how you can make a strong difference. Thank you. Thank you for providing that example to the rest of the nation, but for the particular work that you've done in terms of this challenge in this year.
As I understand it, students took turns to solve complex challenges, including technical problems, and then explained what they had done to a fictional executive board. A real demonstration of exactly how things work very much in the real world of having to work through those technical issues, but then of course ensuring that you have that buy-in and support from those who ultimately are responsible for making funding decisions. I'm sure that in working through this some of you worked long hours on your projects and your challenges, and probably worked right around the clock. And that of course is something that is a reality of the technological landscape, but also of course in particular of cyber security threats; that they are every present, ever constant, and do require people to be working right around the clock.
And in particular can I welcome those students who are here today. Unfortunately though I understand none of the winning team is able to be here with us today. To Niel van der Westhuizen, George Caley, Adam Chyb and Genevieve Anne Carter, sadly they can't be with us because they've already apparently been snapped up for jobs in the United States. Now that's great that they have found work and they're getting some great global experience and of course we hope and trust they'll come back as innovators and entrepreneurs to Australia with that global experience behind them.
Last year as I understand it the 24-hour virtual computer network contest attracted a record 261 entries from undergraduates at 23 universities and TAFEs, a record number of women competed including the first all-women’s team from RMIT. Can I offer particular thanks to private sector partners, the challenge offers some fantastic prizes like a trip to the USA – unless you've already got work lined up there I suspect, perhaps a trip home in that instance. But, opportunity to attend the DEFCON Hacking Conference and of course with that to nurture the cyber security talent pool for the future.
Regardless of where any of you go, we are very proud of what you've achieved and know that you'll go on to make a great contribution whether it's in cyber security or in other areas of technology and that you will hopefully if it's in cyber security be real role models for the next generation of cyber security professionals.
Past participants in the challenge are now working in our top organisations and enjoying the opportunities opened up by their studies. So you have a great track record of this program. To conclude can I again thank and congratulate the winners, congratulate all those involved and look forward very much to making the remaining presentations. Well done and thank you.