The National Broadband Network (NBN) will help underpin a new ITprecinct in Wollongong on the south coast of New South Wales. NBN construction in Wollongong is scheduled for construction inJuly or August this year and due for completion in December 2013. The NBN will offer a new platform for the digital distribution ofgames, said Elizabeth Eastland, director of innovation andcommercial research at the University of Wollongong. “There s a very strong gaming community in Wollongong, probably asa result of the University of Wollongong s gaming undergraduateprogram, and they ve got a lot of interesting, intelligent gamingcoming out of there, said Eastland.
But if you can imagine somebody sitting in their home, theydon t have to buy the game they can do it over the Cloud. Youcan only do that with broadband such as NBN. So the technology itself supports a much better distributionchannel than we ve had, and everybody [will have] that samedistribution channel eventually as it rolls out. That scritical. Eastland is currently involved in a program with the University ofWollongong called iAccelerate, which aims to encourageentrepreneurship and innovation in IT in the region.
There s a lot of innovative capacity [in Wollongong] that weweren t really tapping into. Essentially we suffer from a braindrain in the sense that we ve got all these great graduates whodefinitely, by and large, have to leave the region to get a job, Eastland said. This is despite the fact that the University of Wollongonggraduates the largest number of ICT students in Australia,according to Eastland. The University of Wollongong currently in discussions with AARNETand NBN Co about the Sandpit — pre-certification testingsites where ISPs can test their services. This will allow companiesto rapidly test programs such as video conferencing. Industrial Keyboard With Touchpad
That s a key component of fast growth companies their abilityto get out [fast] … and test it rapidly. We re going to have awhole community in Wollongong where we set up a virtual test-bed ofinterested parties who want to test our products and volunteer, ina sense, to test our products with the NBN, Eastland said. This will enable early market feedback, which will help with thedevelopment of software and applications. The Waterloo experience Originally from Canada, Eastland spent some time in Waterloo,Canada, looking at its model for building its economy. Industrial Desktop Keyboard
Much likethe Illawarra in terms of its size and vicinity to a major city,Eastland said Waterloo has grown to an $18 billion economy and 750tech firms. She is hoping to mirror some of the IT programsimplemented in Waterloo at Wollongong. After visiting the area and learning key lessons, Eastland hassince identified up to six programs which could be implemented inWollongong, including an entrepreneurship club where guests canlisten to keynote speakers; a series of workshops on topics such ashow to protect intellectual property and pitch to venturecapitalists; and StartPad, an ideas incubator which houses up to 20residents, including several start-up companies. A pitching plate is also expected to be launched soon, whichwill act as a marketplace where companies can mentor and bementored and receive professional feedback about their pitches,including from venture capitalists. Industrial Pointing Device
The University of Wollongong s iAccelerate program will eventuallyinclude a 3500 square metre accelerator centre which will bebuilt on the University of Wollongong research and businessprecinct, Innovation Campus. It s a purpose-built [building] modelled in its intention afterthe Waterloo accelerator, but not too dissimilar from APPInnovation, who have a beautiful old, big refurbished building onAustralian Technology Park, Eastland said. It s a very similar model where we have fast growth companies inan environment that has intensive mentoring and support.” Although Eastland said the centre is a key part of the iAccelerate’ecosystem’, it has not yet been funded. Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0 Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU.