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Awards a reward for innovation

THE cream of WA’s IT crop was honoured last week at the Yellow Pages Asia Pacific IT & T Awards.

Individuals, organisations and government departments were recognised at the gala event for their excellence in the information technology and tele-communications fields. Among the winners were Curtin University, the Department of Commerce and Trade and prominent web development firm Pretzel Logic.

But smaller companies and organisations also enjoyed the spotlight, with Micronics and the Albany-based iiTowns beating many larger, high-profile nominees.

The annual awards provide an opportunity for small and medium enterprises to interact and form partnerships with larger companies. The event also aims to promote WA’s IT industry to an international audience.

iiTowns director Neil McKnight said winning the Start Up Business category would give the software developer more creditability when approaching communities.

“It will make it a lot easier to reach a greater area of the market and it’ll give us more creditability,” Mr McKnight said.

“It won’t necessarily allow us to generate more income, but it will allow us to get to more areas earlier, because people will have already heard of us

iiTowns works with regional towns to establish community-focused websites.

The year-old company was acknowledged for the extensive research it undertook before creating a business model and starting development just more than a year ago.

“If you can make things work here in WA, they’ll work anywhere,” Mr McKnight said.

“If you have the focus of Sydney, where you’ve always got a big market and lots of dollars flying around, often you don’t need a good business plan.

“The sites are more than just business directories. They do have business details, but they also represent the interests and lifestyles of the community and provide interests to tourists and backpackers who may be interested in visiting the town.”

About 260 sites have been created for WA. A local representative familiar with the town will maintain each site.

A Stirling-based company with international aspirations won the Health/Environment category from the Internet Business Corporation, which had two separate nominations in the category. Micronics is the creator of the wearable Tusani DGPS vest that is between two and five kilograms lighter than backpack models developed by established manufacturers.

A DGPS is similar to a Global Positioning System but is accurate to within a metre. It is used by councils, forestry authorities and mining companies to pinpoint locations.

“Traditionally these units come as backpacks,” Micronics technical director John Coles said.

“We have designed a unit that gets away from the backpack because it’s cumbersome and has become a WorkSafe issue. Clients tend to get sore shoulders and backs using them.

“What we’ve done is designed it as a wearable product. They’re useful for service engineers in the field who need to climb up poles and take measurements.”

Micronics so far has sold DGPS vests to Rockingham, Swan, Albany and Ballarat authorities.

Mr Coles said that, although the company only had three employees, he hoped to develop the DGPS industry in Perth.

“When you enter a market like this you can either have an also-ran or a product that has a distinct advantage that will propel a small company very quickly,” he said.

Pretzel Logic and Internet Business Corporation, two of Perth’s largest web development companies, received multiple nominations across the seven categories.

Pretzel won the Games, Arts, Entertainment category for its development of the WA Ministry of Culture and the Arts portal website.

The Internet Business Corporation received 11 nominations. It won the Regional Community category for its creation of the Activ Foundation website and the prestigious E-Commerce award for its work on die cast model car manufacturer Biante’s website.

The popular winner on the night was Adultshop.com’s Interactive Marketing award for its Big Boy Briefs product. Adultshop.com’s tele-viral marketing and product research proved to be a winner for the inflatable briefs.

Adultshop.com marketing manager Marc Loveridge said the company was rarely recognised for its achievements because it was an adult site, although it enjoyed as much traffic as ninemsn.com.

“We are just about the most popular website coming out of WA,” Mr Loveridge said.

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