PRIVATE sector collaboration and university technology have joined in the first company to emerge from the Waikato Innovation Centre.
Hamilton-based Ectus develop video conferencing and collaborative education software. It originated as a research and deve-lopment unit in Waikato University and began operating as a company six months ago. The company launched its flagship products, Ectus Media and Ectus Place, this month.
Ectus Media allows streaming of live video conferences to PCs with users able to interact in real-time via an integrated chat facility. It also records the conference, indexes and makes the content available. Ectus Place links the content with a collaborative environment for e-learning.
Netball Waikato Region is the first sporting body to use Place for online training of its netball umpires. Trainee umpires will be given a secure username and password to access the site where they can interact online with course tutors. Ectus CE Mark Topping says the company is in negotiation with resellers in the US, Europe and the UK.
“We’re aware New Zealand is a small market and that’s why we’ve only got the one distributor here, so it makes sense to focus internationally,” he says.
Ectus Media will sell through Asnet Technology’s direct sales team to a target market of corporate clients, manufacturing companies and non-tertiary trainers.
Asnet Technology GM Chris Stewart says Media adds a significant dimension to video conferencing.
“The fact that you can review the conference and do stuff after the event makes it a really nice asynchronous fit. Media will be part of our product offering and we’ve really taken it under our wing,” he says.
Auckland UniServices has integrated Media into its e-learning solution that is being marketed throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
Funding of $1.2 million from Endeavour-icap has been used to establish marketing and take the product from prototype to commercialisation.
“It would have taken us many times longer to get to this stage without Endeavour’s fun-ding and the close mentoring we’ve received from them. We’ve been well-supported along the way with grants,” says Topping.
The company received a $300,000 grant from Technology New Zealand for research and development and a $20,000 Business Development grant from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise for branding strategy.
Topping says Media is the most exciting product but Ectus Driver Education, a CD-based driver education tool, has been picked up by ACC and the LTSA.
The product is based on research by Waikato University psychology department’s Robert Isler and is a hazard prevention programme.
“It starts from the assumption that young drivers don’t look around. The programme is offered to all learner drivers in New Zealand and we’ve had interest from Australia and Switzerland,” says Topping. The company retains close ties with Waikato University with a contract to supply e-learning.
“We’re working to keep the university at the leading edge of technology,” says Topping.