National ICT Australia (NICTA) is exhibiting at the world's largest ICT trade fair, CeBIT Hannover in Germany this week, flying the flag for Australian innovation after a five year absence from the show.
Rob Fitzpatrick, director of commercialisation at NICTA, took time out of the show to give iTnews a "day in the life" account of his first 24 hours at the event - starting with a gala opening Monday night through to his first day on the trade show floor [see photo gallery attached].
Fitzpatrick reports that while the weather is cold, spirits are high among the Australian contingent.
Most spent the first few hours getting their head around the sheer scale of the exhibition.
"It is the largest trade show on the planet," Fitzpatrick said. "There are 4000 exhibitors and there will be almost 500,000 people attending over the course of the week. I'd conservatively say its at least 15 to 20 times larger than the CeBIT fair in Australia."
Fitzpatrick said Australia has not had a substantial presence at CeBIT in some five years.
"Last year, Senator Conroy was here," he said, "and we flew over [NICTA director] David Skellern. But we didn't have a physical presence.
"It's great to have your own stand. It gives you enormous credibility - and a place to connect with people."
NICTA flew over ten representatives, a mix of young entrepreneurs seeking opportunities and established start-up owners seeking distribution.
The aims of NICTA representatives "depended largely on the maturity and nature of the business" they are looking to start-up, he said. Well-established businesses are looking for "awareness and connections" Fitzpatrick said, whilst younger ones are "seeking validation" for their technology roadmap.
While not disclosing how much the public-funded NICTA paid for its presence at the fair, Fitzpatrick said it was "a serious commitment."
"It is where we are expected to be," he said. "For Australia to be successful, we need to get out there and operate on the world stage."
CeBIT runs until Saturday.