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IT consortium gets govt backing


Wednesday 25th September 2002

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The Government will contribute $500,000 towards a new initiative to boost the information and communication technology (ICT) sector.

The Wellington-based MediaLab South Pacific Inc is a research consortium of institutions and the private sector to turn ICT ideas into commercial reality more quickly.

The funding comes from Industry New Zealand's Strategic Investment Fund, matching a $686,000 already pledged by industry and academic groups who founded MediaLab and make up its national membership.

Chief executive Michael Gregg said the extra money would enable MediaLab to open its doors in October and begin a number of world-class research projects.

"We want to break down any barriers that prevent our research providers and private sector members from collaborating within the ICT and digital media sectors," Mr Gregg said.

Strategic partners, who contribute $50,000 in membership costs, include Telecom, TelstraClear, Unisys, and Massey and Victoria universities.

Industry and research partners include Ericsson Communications, Industrial Research Ltd, Oktobor and Whitireia Polytechnic.

MediaLab chairman, Ian McIntosh, who is Deputy Dean (Research) at Victoria University, was enthusiastic about the potential of MediaLab. "We've spent a year building a business model and reviewing intellectual property options that allow MediaLab to add real value to the research already underway within industry and in our universities and polytechnics," he said.

Industry NZ chief executive Neil Mackay said membership of MediaLab was a "who's who of the Wellington region and national Information and Communications Technology, digital media and research communities". "That reach will also extend to international companies who will be attracted to New Zealand by the sheer excellence of MediaLab's activities."

One of the research projects MediaLab has lined up is a "wireless bed management" system, which allows hospitals to accurately view which beds are available before cancelling surgery.

Another project, which would take three to five years to develop, was a computer game-based literacy programme.

"The work we're doing in that space will be identifying the triggers that motivate children to continue to read, and investigating ways they can be built into a PC-based game," said Mr Gregg.

MediaLab was already talking to publishers and venture capital firms in North American market.

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