The NSW government has joined forces with Microsoft Australia to launch the .NET software developer network.
NSW.NET is a commercial software industry cluster, which is expected to attract more than 200 member companies, and is supported by the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA).
The goal is to provide members with the connections, partnering and business opportunities to succeed both here and overseas.
It will bring together software businesses that develop and innovate on Microsoft's .NET platform.
Microsoft's NSW state industry manager Mark Newton said the cluster will also address some of the challenges facing the ICT sector.
"The NSW ICT industry is made up of thousands of small but highly specialised businesses; while the bulk of these organisations are innovative and world class, many suffer from a lack of funding, adequate resourcing, and opportunity for growth and global reach," Newton said.
"NSW.NET will help them share knowledge, forge alliances and pool resources. It will also provide them with a way to become collectively more compelling when bidding for new business, particularly in the international market place."
The launch of NSW.NET follows the successful establishment of four similar clusters with the support of Microsoft in Victoria (Victoria.NET), Queensland (Queensland.NET) the Australian Capital Territory (ACT.NET) and the Northern Territory (Outback.NET).
Collectively the existing clusters have over 550 member organisations employing 6,100 .NET specialists currently working on thousands of projects worth over half a billon dollars.
According to Microsoft, the existing .NET clusters have already generated significant benefits, including helping to secure almost $5 million in federal innovation grants for Victoria.NET members.
Professional services firm Readify also attributes its success in securing a $1.5 million global contract to being part of the Victoria.NET cluster.
AIIA CEO Sheryle Moon said the clusters are based on the premise that collaboration is a successful way for small and medium sized IT businesses to strengthen their business capabilities and reach higher tier customers.
"By working together, local ICT companies can achieve growth and build their businesses far more effectively on a national and international scale," she said.
The ultimate goal iss for NSW.NET to become an independent, self-sustaining body within a three-year timeframe.
NSW Minister for Small Business David Campbell said .NET is expected to become the largest network of its kind in the Asia Pacific.
"NSW is already the centre of ICT in Australia with 42 per cent of ICT businesses and Australia's strongest software development community including over 3,000 companies using Microsoft technologies," Campbell said.
Businesses involved in this cluster will have access to state government programs, assistance with commercialisation and intellectual property, export grants and trade missions to help sell new products to international markets.