Western Sydney has become a veritable hot bed of software talent thanks to the support of the Western Sydney Information Technology Cluster, which is driving the collective success of the region's small and medium IT enterprises.
NSW Minister for Information Technology Kim Yeadon established the initiative last year to accelerate the growth of high-tech, knowledge-intensive industries such as IT and biotechnology.
Western Sydney represents the largest concentration of Australian-owned IT SMEs in the nation - many of which are already active in export markets. Others have developed highly innovative products but lack the resources, business expertise and contacts to take their offerings overseas.
The Western Sydney IT Cluster provides these companies with a network of business and government support that is focused on helping companies identify opportunities. They are also getting a jump-start on their competitors through the availability of advice and assistance on R&D, management and marketing, networking, joint venturing, technology transfer and linkage to cluster partners around the world.
"A key tenet of the IT Cluster's approach is global focus, local presence', as it seeks to encourage the formation of strategic partnerships to enable members to achieve more together than they could individually," said Margaret Ryan, executive director of the NSW Government regional agency Office of Western Sydney, at a recent industry function.
"The push to break into global markets is a key driver behind the establishment of the IT Cluster's initiative: the Global Business Strategy Program (GBSP)." The 12-month program is designed to fast-track the entry of a select group of IT SMEs into global markets, providing them with contacts and support.
A number of IT SMEs in the region have reaped the rewards of being a part of the collaborative model. Digital video security specialist and Cluster member Zone Digital Products has celebrated major contract wins with BP Australia and the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
Another company that has benefited from its involvement is Australian Projects. The security specialist has just formed a strategic alliance for product distribution in North Asia as a direct result of its involvement in the Cluster, said Ryan.
At a recent industry function attended by a number of Cluster member and international representatives of Austrade, Australian Projects managing director Chris Jocelyn passed on his knowledge of effective methods of penetrating Asian markets. The sharing of knowledge for the benefit of a collective group, and ultimately for the benefit of the individual company, has proven very effective.
The Western Sydney IT Cluster is attracting interest from regions within Australia and overseas, in particular Ireland and Germany, Ryan said.