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Techs on trial

Techs on trial

Australian and New Zealand technology companies with international aspirations are getting a helping hand from a most unlikely source.

A global competition is offering local technology companies support, advice and invaluable international exposure. Australian and New Zealand technology companies with international aspirations are getting a helping hand from a most unlikely source - Wales.

International Business Wales, the trade and business development arm of the Welsh Assembly Government, identifies emerging companies from around the world with aspirations to enter European markets and provides them with the funding and support to establish a base in Wales in the United Kingdom.

Each year, IBW runs an international competition to discover and attract the best new business ideas. The Technium Challenge International program, a business-planning competition for high-growth technology companies, awards winning businesses with a comprehensive start-up package. The selected businesses are given support to locate in business incubators in Wales and are provided with mentoring and advice.

The competition is a boon for small and medium enterprises considering overseas expansion, but Wales also stands to benefit, the head of IBW's operation in Australia and New Zealand, Gareth Davies, says.

The winners are selected on their potential to develop European markets and provide employment and other business benefits to the Welsh economy.

Davies believes the Technium Challenge offers emerging companies a streamlined opportunity to enter UK and European markets. "This is an excellent soft-landing method for companies looking to expand overseas," he says. "For many SMEs, risk is a key factor that plays on their nerves when looking beyond Australian shores. This competition reduces that risk - with free office space, valuable business advice and ongoing support."

Many of the Australian companies that entered the Technium Challenge had not developed a business plan, he says. The ability to articulate the business planning process and the direction the company would take to capture overseas market share is a crucial element in the judging.

"We found that last year there were a number of companies that had international aspirations yet few actually had a business plan in place. This year there was a greater number of companies which had thought out their planning processes. The Technium Challenge is great as it gets businesses writing these plans which will assist them with their international growth and at the same time could win them a year's set-up in the UK."

The 2008 challenge was won by TracPlus Global, a small technology company from Dunedin, New Zealand. TracPlus Global specialises in telematics, and its main product is a global tracking system for transport including aircraft, vehicles and vessels.

The winner of the Australian leg and one of five finalists flown to Cardiff to showcase their companies was Brisbane medical devices company Diversionary Therapy Technologies.

DTT has developed a product designed to reduce pain and anxiety in children undergoing medical procedures. The product is a hand-held touch-screen console which displays customised interactive games, stories and movies specifically created to provide an engaging distraction for children undergoing painful medical procedures.

The product has been successfully tested in Australia in hospital burns and orthopedic departments, DTT's managing director Rob Sale says. A clinical trial program in Europe and the United States aims to attain approval for the product by August 2009.

The interactive storybooks have been developed for children aged three to eight. For teenage patients and adults, Sale says the company is working on new versions of the device that use virtual reality programming.

Sale says it was always DTT's plan to pursue global markets and the entry into the Technium Challenge was an opportunity to accelerate company plans.

DTT has exhibited its products at conferences and trades shows in Europe and has been encouraged by the response. Sale says the company is considering setting up its European base in Wales.

Fairfax Business Media

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