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$1.6m Govt Support For Knowledge Joint Venture

$1.6m Government Support For Knowledge Joint Venture

Ericsson Synergy's New Zealand-based centre for the development of mobile internet applications could receive up to $1.6 million of government funding over the next three years.

Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton, Research, Science and Technology Minister Pete Hodgson and Information Technology and Communications Minister Paul Swain announced the funding today.

The $1.6 million of funding is made up of $750,000 from Industry New Zealand's Major Investment Fund and possible funding on application of up to $850,000 from existing programmes provided by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology.

The Major Investment Fund supports significant new investment in New Zealand by working with New Zealand and overseas investors to overcome barriers and reduce the costs of significant business expansion or setting up major new businesses in New Zealand. The Ericsson Synergy grant is the first from the fund.

The funding depends on the New Zealand-Swedish joint venture achieving a number of milestones, including employment targets.

"An important theme of last week's Knowledge Wave conference was the need to be bolder in attracting foreign investment and expertise in key high-tech areas," Jim Anderton said.

"Today's announcement shows the Government is prepared to be active in chasing investment that is good for New Zealand. We have been working on this project for several months".

Ericsson Synergy Limited (ESL), which already employs 32 staff, is creating high-skill jobs in the high-tech sector, attracting talented New Zealanders home and boosting foreign exchange earnings. Fifty percent of sales to date have been overseas.

"Ericsson's decision to invest here will provide stepping stones for New Zealand companies such as Synergy, to promote their skills and abilities to global markets. It has already contributed to Synergy's successes overseas," said Pete Hodgson.

"There are many reasons to invest in New Zealand, including the low cost of doing business here, our innovative culture and our highly skilled Information Technology workforce," Paul Swain said.

"Government assistance, either through direct funding or through indirect support, is only part of the picture," said Paul Swain.

Jim Anderton said the ESL funding was another example of the whole of government approach to making the most of economic development opportunities.

Since ESL announced last November that it would be establishing an internet applications centre in New Zealand, Industry New Zealand has been co-ordinating government assistance for the project. Ericsson Synergy's bid to have the centre located in New Zealand was led by Investment New Zealand.

Chief executive of Ericsson Synergy Stephen Crombie said the company was delighted to be in line for government funding to assist with its development of world-leading mobile internet applications and platforms.

"We intend to use this funding to supplement our existing research and development programme and already have a number of new projects planned for this year which will focus on making mobile internet services more user-friendly and secure," he said.

Since it began operating on January 1 this year, Ericsson Synergy has developed solutions for mobile office, mobile commerce, advanced WAP and messaging, said Crombie.

It has also created a leading edge service platform technology, which integrates mobile networks, web/WAP sites, customer management and billing systems so that people using mobile internet services have a seamless experience. This technology is being used by major telecommunications companies in New Zealand and Australia.

"ESL has already provided consulting services, and solutions in Australia, Thailand, Taiwan, the Philippines, Canada and Sweden," said Crombie.

Chief executive of Synergy International David Irving said his company's support for Ericsson Synergy helped ensure the joint venture had a strong New Zealand culture, the ability to harness Kiwi ingenuity quickly and could further develop its global market and focus.

"This ties in with our Multi-Site Development strategy, via which our overseas staff establish client relationships in global locations with the solutions and applications they need developed back here in New Zealand. This keeps the skill base in New Zealand. We're receiving more and more CVs every week from ex-pat Kiwis and other international residents who want to come and work here," Irving said.

He added that Synergy's resource pool of more than 250 staff enabled Ericsson Synergy to compete for assignments that would otherwise be considered too big for a start-up organisation.

Managing director of Ericsson New Zealand Goran Olsson said Ericsson was an enthusiastic supporter of the Government's Knowledge Wave strategy.

"The growth of Ericsson Synergy is further evidence of Ericsson New Zealand's commitment to this country's hi-tech economy. Many of the solutions developed by Ericsson Synergy will be marketed around the world by Ericsson internationally, which has a presence in 140 countries," said Olsson.

Ends

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