Pulse Data recognised by Trade NZ

Pulse Data International exports 96% of its products, but is quite happy staying home in New Zealand.

Pulse Data International exports 96% of its products, but is quite happy staying home in New Zealand.

Pulse won the information, communications and technology category award at the Trade NZ export awards last night. The Christchurch company designs and manufactures technology products for the blind and visually impaired.

The award judges praised Pulse for innovation and market presence. “Its ability to maintain its leadership when using an industry-standard software platform, Windows, is testament to its innovation. A strong focus on the future is reflected through its ability to restructure and adjust its strategic planning process to stay in tune with changing market and environmental conditions,” the judges said.

Over the past five years, Pulse’s export earnings have increased fivefold to $50 million, and the company now exports to 30 countries. The company manufactures the BrailleNote, a PDA-like device for the blind, and the SmartView range of video magnifiers for the visually impaired.

According to the company, the BrailleNote holds 65% of the US market for Braille and speech notetakers.

Half of Pulse’s staff work at the Christchurch headquarters. Greg Thompson, Pulse’s international marketing and business development manager, says there are many benefits in operating from New Zealand.

“We could manufacture our products anywhere in the world, but we like it here,” he says. “There is also an availability of R&D skills, innovative thinkers who work outside the square, and people with a very good work ethic.

“New Zealand also offers a highly competitive cost base.”

Development is ongoing. A French BrailleNote was been released this year, a German version is near release, and Pulse is currently integrating GPS technology with their product.

The other finalists in the information, communications and technology category were Niche Software, a Christchurch developer of workplace safety software; PLATO Health Systems, the Auckland developer of medical coding software; and Software of Excellence, an Auckland vendor of dental health software.

All four finalists are exporters of health-related products, but Anne Stevenson, Trade NZ technology and services team leader, says that is coincidental, “perhaps reflective of the fact that the health IT sub-sector has been experiencing high export growth — a trend expected to continue in the future.”

Also presented last week were the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology’s technology commendation awards. Among the winners were Christchurch company Allied Telesyn for an internet switching system, and Right Hemisphere of Auckland for automated 2D and 3D graphic solutions.

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