Compaq, Clear and Microsoft have named the first winners in a programme that offers local start-ups a free technology package of software, hardware and connectivity.
But under the rules of the KiwiStartUp.Net scheme the "technology boost" is free for only 90 days - a structure that cynics may see as more of a marketing scheme than a hand up.
The three companies have been quick to offer assurance that the period is "negotiable" and that their largesse will not be simply withdrawn. They are, however, struggling to put a dollar value on their offering.
Twelve companies each year will benefit from the scheme, which aims to give them time to build a prototype or demonstrate e-commerce ideas, whilst seeking ongoing funding and support.
The three will have the use of a Compaq server, with a hosting option at the Compaq Internet Service Centre; a Clear high-speed internet connection; and Microsoft e-commerce software (Windows 2000, Commerce Server 2000, BizTalk Server 2000, Exchange Server 2000, SQL Server 2000, Internet Security and Acceleration Server 2000) along with a subscription to the Microsoft Developer Network.
The three first three start-ups to successfully apply are:
• Traxium, a Christchurch-based venture focused on the development of a business-to-business exchange to service the freight transportation industry.
• Climate Dynamics, a Wellington/Queenstown-based venture, developing specialised weather forecast applications to be delivered to users via the internet.
• Nettec, an Auckland-based company developing internet-based applications that use positioning data generated from its specialized wireless location technology.
Clear spokesperson Rochelle Lockley says the term of the offer is "open to negotiation. The deal is to get them to the stage where they've got a prototype and they can go to VC companies. And obviously if they're not quite ready or they're waiting to hear back, we're not going to cut them off and say, sorry you've got to give everything back now.
"It's no something where we're going to support them for three months and then say see you later - it's aimed at developing long-term partnerships."
Compaq's Pamela Bonney says that at the end of the 90 days "we'll assess where we're at."
"It's a seed programme," says Bonney. "Ninety days is recognised in Silicon Valley as the time for a start-up to get up and moving and get to the stage of venture capital. By the end of that three months they should be ready to attract venture capital."