Austrade winners are grinners

Austrade winners are grinners

Austrade has announced the final 10 winners of its third annual Silicon Valley Tour competition, where representatives of emerging Australian developers are provided with an all-expenses business trip to the US to look for new partners and investors.

A record-breaking 176 developers entered the competition by submitting a one-page pitch. Twenty-five finalists were then asked to create a three-minute video submission, on which basis the 10 winners were judged.

Among the winners travelling to Silicon Valley this week is Andrew Roberts, chief executive officer of Queensland-based Web tools developer Ephox. Ephox produces browser-based Web-editing software that enables Webmasters to give users a tool to update a Web site, while still maintaining a degree of control over content.

Ephox's EditLive product was developed over two years, and has been on the market for 12 months. The company already has 200 customers in 23 countries, with clients including JP Morgan, Colorado State University and Autodesk Software. The product was developed using an eclectic combination of Javascript, C and Visual Basic programming.

Roberts said the company has already tasted several international successes, mostly through the attractive opportunity the developer promotes to resellers. "We sell over 50 per cent of sales through channel partners like ASPs and Web developers, as well as through software vendors," he said.

Roberts is looking to use the Silicon Valley expedition to find new partners keen to license or resell Ephox's products. "Our goal is sales, achieved through relationships with software vendors," he said. "We also hope to learn a lot."

Education was mentioned as one of the primary focuses for many of the developers, including several that have been selling in the domestic market for some time. Murray Rankin, managing director of ACT-based software developer The Distillery, has been the recipient of several awards for the company's knowledge-management products in the past, but still feels the Silicon Valley Tour is primarily a way of learning more about exporting Intellectual Property into international markets.

Another software developer among the 10 winners is Sydney-based XML expert TimeBase. TimeBase has been in development mode for seven years, working on a patented technology dubbed MALT, which simplifies XML data to the point where XML databases become redundant.

MALT is used in complex publishing projects where a large amount of text-based data needs to be stored in a database and tagged with mark-up and link information. This task has so far been facilitated by XML databases produced by Software AG and XML Corp, products that TimeBase managing director Abha Lessing believes are slow and inherently unmanageable. Using MALT technology, Lessing said publishers would be able to add value to text-based data in XML-compliant relational databases, such as those produced by Microsoft or Oracle. Lessing sees these databases as more mature, easier to use and implement, and better supported by the vendor.

For TimeBase, the Silicon Valley Tour is being attacked on two levels. The company will look to license the MALT technology among US publishers, especially in the legal niche, and find strategic investors and partners among the large relational database vendors.

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