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Government initiative good news for HIT Lab NZ

7 September 2006

Major government initiative good news for HIT Lab NZ

The announcement today of a major Government initiative to support a world leading 3D digital content and graphics industry in New Zealand will have a positive spin off for the HIT Lab NZ based at the University of Canterbury.

A key part of the initiative is an agreement between the Government and software company Right Hemisphere, a HIT Lab NZ consortium member, to work together to boost the local 3D industry.

The agreement will see Right Hemisphere retain the major part of its world-beating research and development in New Zealand in return for an interest-free US$8 million loan from the government to help its next stage of development.

The Government believes that with its strong links into the US market and its
investors and partners, Right Hemisphere can provide the business and technology coherence, as well as a proven path to market, for commercialising R&D from the group of cutting edge firms and researchers who already work in this area of graphics and digital effects. This would strengthen not only this group, but New Zealand's position as a whole in the global IT space.

The HIT Lab NZ is included in the list of organisations and companies considered to be world class.

HIT Lab NZ director Dr Mark Billinghurst praised the announcement by the Government of their support for Right Hemisphere,

“The Government has shown great foresight by providing Right Hemisphere with the support that it needs to grow its research in New Zealand and establish stronger ties with local universities and research institutions,” he said.

“Right Hemisphere has world leading computer graphics technology and this initiative will enable them to capture a greater share of a rapidly growing market.


“It will also enable consolidation of leading New Zealand academic research efforts into a joint research programme that will bring considerable benefit back to New Zealand. We are excited to be able to be collaborating with Right Hemisphere on this initiative.”

The HIT Lab NZ and Right Hemisphere have worked together in the past on research projects, and this initiative will enable them to be able to collaborate even more closely on projects to further enhance Right Hemisphere’s product line. Right Hemisphere is already a leader in the field of Product Graphic Management, and partnering with local universities and research institutions will enable them to extend this lead further.

Dr Billinghurst said that more importantly it would also enable the development of a stronger 3D digital content industry in New Zealand, that would bring considerable benefits back in to New Zealand.

“In the past the computer graphics industry in New Zealand has been small and fragmented. This initiative will encourage consolidation that will create research efforts large enough to compete on the world stage.”

In launching the initiative, New Zealand’s Minister for Economic Development Trevor Mallard said the loan negotiated with Right Hemisphere incorporated conditions which will benefit firms and Kiwi research organisations.

"As well as setting up a research programme, we are also looking to set up a virtual cluster or ecosystem of educators, researchers, firms and others for networking, education and collaboration in this area.”

The spillover agreement sets out commitments by both the Government and Right Hemisphere. New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) will lead implementation from the government side.

NZTE will establish a steering group with Ministry of Economic Development, Foundation for Research Science and Technology and Right Hemisphere to oversee the set-up phase of the research programme, working with universities and interested firms.

Once the parameters of the programme have been established, it is likely that a legal entity will be established to run and coordinate the research programme.

There will be an investor relations programme, a key part of which will be focused on increasing New Zealand’s local investor community’s links into US markets.

ENDS


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