Alcatel-Lucent call for start-ups to get moving

Mitchell Bingemann – The Australian

TELECOMS equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent is seeking up to 40 Australian start-ups, tech companies and researchers to join a program next year to bring new technologies and applications to superfast broadband networks.

Launched in Australia in October, the ng (next generation) Connect program has already signed 10 partners, including the NBN Co, and as of today the University of Melbourne’s Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society, which was formed soon after the Labor government announced its decision to invest billions of dollars in a fibre-to-the-home network.

IBES is the nation’s first cross-disciplinary research institute dedicated to exploring the benefits of broadband technologies.

As member of ng Connect, IBES will provide program members with access to key technology and research assets, including the Australian Broadband Applications Laboratory – a high-speed broadband testing and development environment. Now ng Connect is looking for the next tranche of members to join the program, which has already attracted several early-stage tech companies, including CloudHerd, OpenLearning, Native Tongue Apps and ManageMy.

“We are after a mix of operators. We want to grow the Australian start-up community but also academia, research and industry,” said Liza Noonan, the head of Alcatel-Lucent’s ng Connect Australian operation.

“We do build and test stuff, and take it to market, which is why members like IBES are so important because they give us an environment to do testing and integration for new high-speed broadband services.”

Ms Noonan said members would not only have access to IBES’s labs and expertise but would be able to draw on Alcatel-Lucent for marketing and software development for services that showed commercial promise.

“We want to help accelerate time-to-market of services and share the financial cost and risk of getting services live to consumers too,” she said. “This is a program that is well established in North America and New Zealand. It’s kicking off in Taiwan this week, so there are great exporting opportunities for young Australian companies,” she said.

“As a major technology partner for the NBN, we want to support its success and we think ng Connect helps do that by showcasing the innovation that is possible over superfast broadband networks.”

Globally, the ng Connect program has more than 190 member companies ranging across consumer electronics manufacturers, application and content providers and network technology outfits. It was busy at last year’s CES show in Las Vegas, showing off concepts such as interactive digital signage platforms for retailers and public venues that drew content from cloud-based services; cloud-connected tables for airports and train stations that served up advertising, entertainment and media, and a Ford Transit van loaded with broadband technologies that helped connect mobile workers.

This article originally appeared in The Australian, 10 December 2013.

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