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Big Research Project Sparks New Products, Jobs

An Auckland electronics company, Talon Technology, has received more than $900,000 from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, through its Technology New Zealand scheme, to fund further research and development into vehicle navigation technology.

This is one of the biggest amounts of funding ever awarded by Technology New Zealand, and the research programme has already created seven more new jobs for the company’s 35 strong Research and Development department.

The resulting technology is expected to provide the basis for a range of new products for Talon within a multimillion dollar, high growth market.

Several years ago, Talon made a significant investment in developing inhouse capability to manufacture GPS products at chipset level. Originally designed for marine markets, that technology became the basis for Talon’s explosive growth into land based navigation products.

A focus on innovation has, in less than 10 years, turned a four-person business into a multi-million dollar export machine employing more than 150 people.

Each year the company ploughs back its profit into R&D, a move that Peter Maire, Talon Technology CEO, says has been crucial in Talon’s growth

“The industry and its technology is changing so rapidly that everyone has to think of new ways of doing things. We’ve built our business on good partnerships, like linking navigation software into PDA hardware and joining with mapping giants Rand McNally. We knew we needed to be totally R&D focussed to keep our impetus going and stay ahead of the changes in GPS technology.

”What we have today will be out of date in three years. This complex research programme is important to us because all our technologies, such as GPS, handheld and marine navigation, come together in the product range we are now looking at,” says Peter Maire

Although Talon started out originally as a marine electronics company, it has moved increasingly into land-based navigation, regarded as a huge growth area for the company.

Talon made its entrance into land-based navigation with a multi-million dollar export order to US Rand McNally, designed to have motorists driving smarter and finding destinations easier. Business with Rand McNally also led to new opportunities with major PDA manufacturers Palm and Compaq.

Talon will start patenting products, from software, hardware to intellectual property, as the research programme progresses.

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