Canterbury IT cluster launches on Wednesday

This Wednesday's launch of the Canterbury Software Development Cluster will be boosted by free advice for technology firms from business, legal and marketing consultants.

Wednesday’s launch of the Canterbury Software Development Cluster will be boosted by free advice for technology firms from business, legal and marketing consultants.

The cluster aims to offer a one-stop shop of business advice for small and medium-sized firms to help them develop products for local and international markets.

Designed to be "by the software community and for the software community", it follows an initial meeting last December when 80 software companies said they wanted such a venture offering support in developing mentor relationships, providing resources about what is available for developers, showing the lessons learned by other companies and providing advice and information on financing and grants.

Cluster co-founder Keith Cowan, a Jade business manager, says the cluster is the first of its kind and he hopes it will succeed and act as a model for clusters in other regions.

The cluster will involve volunteers and partners collaborating with each other and has no paid staff. However, Trade New Zealand and the Canterbury Development Corporation have provided financial, administration and strategic support.

About 30 firms have said they will attend the launch. No VIPs are expected, though the prime minister's office has given support to the concept, and Cowan expects the prime minister or deputy PM Jim Anderton's economic development staff to become involved at a later stage.

Co-founders include Daniel Olykan from the Canterbury Development Corporation, Stephen O'Neill (TradeNZ), Vicki and Peter Hyde (SPIS), Sue Stubenvoll (KPMG), Steve Smith (Alchemy) and Grant Ryan (NBCI).

Consultants from Chapman Tripp, Buddle Findlay, AMP Finance, ThinkDirect, KPMG, Hadlee Kippenberger, Word Engineering, SPIS, Duncan Cotterill, Deloitte Touche Tomatsu, and key mentors from Canterbury's Hi-Tech Business Incubator will give advice on the day.

Based on feedback from local firms, the cluster will also hold regular events, workshops and social activities.

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