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The helping hand business doesn't need

By Chris Hutching

Friday 28th February 2003

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Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton last week delivered a $500,000 Industry New Zealand research subsidy to a technology joint venture in Christchurch but several technology companies in the city have unveiled their own employment growth initiatives.

Mr Anderton handed out the $500,000 to the human interface technology (Hit) laboratory, a joint venture between Seattle's University of Washington and the University of Canterbury "involved in world-leading work in virtual reality and the ways in which people interact with computers."

The scheme is modelled on the Hit lab in the US established in 1989, which Mr Anderton said had resulted in such benefits as $US30 million raised in research grants, gifts and contracts; 18 companies started, of which 12 are still active and two are traded on the Nasdaq; over 400 jobs created; and 12 patents issued.

At about the same time Mr Anderton delivered the ministry's largesse, Allied Telesyn announced it had recruited 30 computer science and electrical engineering graduates for training in software development and systems testing of computer networking products at the international company's largest research and development facility in the world in Christchurch.

Twenty-four of those selected recently graduated from Canterbury University, with the others recruited from Auckland, Lincoln and Victoria universities.

Allied Telesyn has more than 240 employees, up from 50 two years ago, working at its new Christchurch offices on Nazareth Ave where popular attractions for staff include the company's indoor 23m heated swimming pool, gym and sauna.

The multinational company, set up by a small group of Christchurch researchers in the 1990s and formerly called Network Dynamics, was bought by the Japanese Allied Telesyn parent company two years ago and expanded as its main research centre.

Allied Telesyn's new graduates are in their second week of the company's four-week graduate training programme that encourages graduates to develop their technological innovation and skills and teaches them about the company's methodologies and tools and how to write, develop and test Allied Telesyn's networking technology.

Meanwhile, a new onroad wireless reporting system supplied by iTouch has helped tip the balance in favour of maintenance engineer Excell, which won a water and drainage maintenance contract with Manukau City Council.

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