ACT News

ANU start-up turned global empire dubbed ACT Exporter of the Year

Canberra based technology company Seeing Machines has been dubbed the ACT Exporter of the Year after turning their research incubator at the Australian National University into a global empire.

Seeing Machines chief technology officer Timothy Edwards, who accepted the award from ACT Treasurer Andrew Barr at the Hyatt Hotel on Tuesday, said it was immensely satisfying to see his labour of love achieve recognition in the ACT.

"I was born in Canberra and I've been working behind the scenes on this for a long time and it's great to see a technology that was ahead of its time come into fruition," he said.

"We build systems that monitor the operators of machines where lives are potentially at risk, from aircraft to trains and potentially boats.

"Our technology is primarily focused on detecting driver or operator fatigue and when they are distracted by things like phones or entertainment systems in their cars."

Mr Edwards said he started Seeing Machines with three colleagues at the ANU in 1996 while they were working on vehicles capable of monitoring driver's reactions.

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"We started in 2000 just after the dot-com crash with a little incubator at the ANU and then about five years later we moved to Lonsdale Street in Braddon," he said.  

"We now have an office in Mountain View, California, a mining focus centre in Tucson, Arizona, a joint development company in Santiago, Chile, and a presence in South Africa.

"The growth of the business has been so rapid and in the last four to five months our employees have doubled from 49 to just less than 100."

Seeing Machines chief executive Ken Kroger said Canberra had proved a great location to launch a technology business given access to research facilities and collaborative nature of the technology community.

"The collaboration between organisations such as NICTA and the ANU are part of small technology community that come together to share resources and ideas and support each other," he said.

Mr Barr said Seeing Machines had succeeded as a company despite the downturn in the commodity prices last financial year because mining companies realised their product made their operations safer.

"While continuing to be Canberra based, Seeing Machines has opened operations in North and South America and is continuing to grow markets in Asia, the Middle East and Africa," he said.

Mr Barr said total exports from the ACT were now worth $1.26 billion per year, with the average export growth over last five years running at 8.2 per cent.

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