Predicting the ‘next big thing’

By September 5th, 2011

CSIRO continues its support of up-and-coming ICT innovators at Tech23.

The ICT Centre has again shown its support of innovative information and communications technologies by getting behind Tech23, an initiative of the well-respected news and events company Slattery IT, held in Sydney recently.

Twenty-three young tech companies, from three-person start-ups to those with 50 staff, had five minutes to pitch their ideas and their business model to more than 400 potential investors, partners and clients. While on stage, the companies were grilled by a panel of industry experts such as the co-inventor of Google Maps, Lars Rasmussen, Anthony Glenning of Starfish Ventures, Doron Ben-Meir, CEO of Commercialisation Australia, and CSIRO Group Executive Information Sciences, Alex Zelinsky.

“Starts-ups give you a sense of where the cutting edge of technology really is and CSIRO has a role to play in supporting that innovation,” Dr Zelinsky said. “It’s always good to look out for the stars of the future, not just as a talent-scouting exercise but because small companies can become big companies – an excellent example of this is Lars Rasmussen, whose start-up Where 2 Technologies was acquired by Google and now Google Maps employs 400 research engineers in Sydney.”

The audience included a handful of anonymous judges, such as the ICT Centre’s Director of Business Development and International, Gary Morgan.

“Starts-ups give you a sense of where the cutting edge of technology really is,”

Dr Alex Zelinsky said.

“This year’s candidates were very impressive, all demonstrated knowledge of their target market and the best ones addressed unmet needs in niche and disruptive domains,” Mr Morgan said. “Plus, many had achieved a positive cash flow position and are operating in global markets.”

The main drawcard was $150 000 from the NSW Government, but there were other prizes, such as the two mentoring sessions offered by CSIRO. 

In the main Tech23 group, the CSIRO Award went to Roamz, a smart phone app that trawls social media for things that are happening in your location.

In the Innovation Island part of the competition, where another 18  individuals, start-ups and spin-offs competed, the CSIRO Award went to Brix HQ, a tiny company producing agile project management software.

“Many of the technologies on show were in similar areas to our research,” Mr Morgan said. “This mutual exposure improves their growth potential, helps us understand the business models being deployed and gives us both the opportunity to explore possible areas in which to collaborate.”

Dr Zelinsky added: “This is the third Tech23 and the second time we’ve been involved. It just keeps improving and is now Australia’s leading forum for young companies to present their ideas. It also presents a fantastic opportunity to network: I set up several meetings around CSIRO technology while I was there.”

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