As any football coach can tell you, when you’re angling for a pay rise it helps to be able to point to a crowded trophy cabinet. That’s just one reason Luceille Outhred, chief executive of the small Adelaide-based technology company Digislide, welcomes the prospects of going global.
Being nominated as a finalist in the World Technology Awards has given Digislide and its projection technology the chance to see its product side by side with those of big companies such as LG Electronics, Samsung and Lenovo.
Ms Outhred is now negotiating with potential partners in the mobile handset and mobile network industries before launching the company’s miniature projector worldwide.
"You constantly wonder if what you think is a swan is actually a duck," Ms Outhred says. "In your heart you know it is a swan but you’re just not quite sure until you take it out on the pond.
"Getting a nomination for a World Technology Award was overwhelming, and to have been designated a finalist is abundantly above all I could have asked for."
Digislide was nominated by its industry peers in the corporate IT hardware category for its Digismart miniature projector technology. The tiny device can project images larger than an A3 sheet of paper from a distance of about a metre.
The technology is being prepared for incorporation into hand-held devices such as mobile phones and mobile video players.
The competition recognises companies from different technology sectors for innovative work of likely long-term significance.
Competitors will meet in San Francisco in early November, when Digislide also hopes to be able to demonstrate a pre-production model of its technology.
Such recognition is not just heartwarming, it’s an important step in capturing the attention of investment capital, Ms Outhred says. Digislide has so far raised $6 million, including $1.5 million from angel investors in the past 15 months. She says the company is seeking $2.5 million in venture capital to fund expansion into the US.
"We would much prefer the majority of ownership to remain in Australia, because we are talking about tapping into global markets worth $US100 million," she says.
Digislide has also applied for an AusIndustry Commercial Ready grant to help further its development. Ms Outhred says she believes the company can have a stand-alone version of its equipment ready for market in the first half of 2007, with embedded devices to follow.
The company has already entered into agreements with telcos Hutchison Wampoa in Hong Kong and Sprint in the US, although Ms Outhred says she cannot disclose details.
Should the company win the award it would cap an extraordinary year for Digislide, which was also selected to present at the DEMO emerging technology conference in the US in February. Its exposure soared and it was declared one of the top 100 global innovators by the international research organisation GuideWire Group. It was also invited to attend the Innovate Europe conference in Saragossa, Spain.
"For our research and development team, who have been working very hard for a number of years under very frugal conditions, this is everything they deserve," Ms Outhred says.