The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Richard Alston, has welcomed the recent achievements of several Building on IT Strengths (BITS) incubators.

In mid June, the CSIRO executed agreements with Epicorp, an ACT-based incubator, for the commercialisation of WindLab Systems, a company providing new technologies in the wind energy area.

This collaboration is the first of its kind under the new CSIRO Commercialisation Executive structure. Epicorp also received support of its own, with the deal securing a further $1 million contribution from the ACT Government to continue its incubation activities in the region.

Sydney-based incubator BlueFire has also clocked up a first, with the announcement of an offshore trade sale from the BITS Incubator Program. Its graduated incubatee SandwichDirect—an online sandwich retailer—was sold to the US bakery/café chain Specialtys, which is currently enjoying sustained growth in the e-tailing sector.

Further recognition of the benefits of the BITS Incubator program to Australia’s innovation system was highlighted by recent industry awards in April and May, when two icubatees—AVNotes and Avolution—won prestigious 2003 Consensus Software Awards. They were incubated by Information City Victoria (ICV) and the Sydney-based ITem3 respectively.

A Deloitte-Microsoft Rising Star Award—given in recognition of emerging companies that have made a significant contribution to the technology sector—went to Xpertcorp, the graduated incubatee of another Sydney-based incubator, Allen & Buckeridge Seed State Ventures. The South Australian incubator, Playford Capital, saw a prestigious iAward go to its graduated incubatee, Foursticks during CeBit Australia.

The Australian Government’s $78 million Building on Information Technology Strengths (BITS) Incubator Program funds ten incubator centres across mainland Australia. The program has just completed the third year of its four-year life cycle. An additional incubator, Intellinc, is also operating in Tasmania as part of the $40 million Intelligent Island program.