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NZ Company Wins Lucrative Contract

In a demonstration of the global knowledge economy at work, a New Zealand firm of professional electronics design consultants has won a lucrative contract with a large, NASDAQ-listed company in the United States.

South Pacific Electronic Design Associates Ltd (SPEDA), based in Christchurch, New Zealand, has been awarded a development contract with a US based telecommunications test equipment company for the development of a specialised test and measurement system.

The project will make use of SPEDA’s expertise in signal processing, FPGA firmware (programmable logic chips), radio frequency, and high-speed digital design. A confidentiality agreement prevents disclosure of the name of the US company or detail about the particular technology being developed, however, SPEDA’s engineering manager, Marcus Clyne, says it is a significant contract, which was awarded to SPEDA in preference to United States, Asian and European contractors.

Clyne says there is a trend lately for many contract design companies in the US not to take on projects worth less than $US1 million.

This creates a problem for US companies wanting “smaller” projects completed, because it means they have to look further afield for contractors.
On the other hand it opens up valuable work opportunities for New Zealand firms, as well as those in places such as Australia, Asia and Europe.

The strength of the US dollar against New Zealand’s currency undoubtedly did not harm SPEDA’s competitiveness in bidding for the US contract, but Marcus Clyne says his company did not win it only on price.

“We know we weren’t the cheapest,” he says, adding that the low value of our dollar is not enough by itself to secure international technology contracts.
SPEDA benefited from its expertise, its track record and the way they presented to the US company during the initial technology assessment of the project. The firm’s bid for the contract began with a two day on-site visit to the United States, followed by a detailed proposal and report.

More visits to the US will be required during the course of the project, which will occupy two of SPEDA’s eight engineers in full-time work through to April next year.

Marcus Clyne says his firm will also use the communications potential of the Internet to consult with the US company during the course of the contract, through encrypted file transfer and email. He says given the nature of the work, SPEDA’s physical location in Christchurch, New Zealand is not necessarily a penalty or an impediment.

In fact SPEDA has benefited from being based in New Zealand. Marcus Clyne says this country is well set up to provide opportunities for companies such as his to find work in many offshore markets.

New Zealand is known around the world for its ability and willingness to take on new technologies, and combined with the deregulated market, this has contributed to a wide range of technology systems being used in this country, especially in telecommunications.

This means technical specialists here must be familiar with many different types of systems.

Combined with New Zealand’s well-known ability to be technically inventive, this versatility gives firms such as SPEDA a powerful edge in competing with firms from other countries.

“We are heading towards being a wireless data company competing internationally. We see New Zealand as an ideal base for such work, in conjunction with overseas partners,” he says.

Clyne says this firm has done similar projects in the past, but the latest contract underscores SPEDA’s ability to compete successfully on the international market.

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