The Northern Territory ‘Industrial Supplies Office’ was founded in 1987 in response to an approach from the Australian Army. They were conducting an exercise called ‘Kangaroo 88’ and approached the government for assistance in identifying businesses around the Territory which could provide the goods and services to its personnel while on manoeuvres.

The government discussed the situation with the Chamber of Commerce NT and the Master Builders Association NT and the new organisation, without membership restrictions, was formed. It was loosely aligned with the Industrial Supplies Office organisations in other states but, while the predominant focus elsewhere was on import replacement, the NTISO stayed true to its origins and also reflected the Territory’s small manufacturing sector. The focus here was, and remains, the promotion of all goods and services in the Territory.

During the 1990’s the ‘Industrial Supplies Office’ role had expanded (recognised in the NT where we were renamed the ‘Industry Search and Opportunities Office’. Some confusion arose as the International Standards Organisation gained greater prominence and eventually, as the broader concept of industry capability was the genesis of the ISO’s in Australia, the product was relaunched as Industry Capability Network (ICN).

The changing face of the Territory economy has affected the operational focus of the ICN as we now see the major projects not experienced in years gone by. The Adelaide to Darwin railway, ConocoPhilips LNG plant, Alcan Gove G3 expansion and the Darwin Waterfront Development have raised the stakes of local business involvement and the ICN works closely with the proponents to maximise local content.

Through its national alliance, ICN is able to satisfy the requirements of its clients by accessing the national database, known as ICN Toolbox, to locate goods and services not available in the Territory. It has also adopted the network's web based project management tool, ICN Gateway.