Sydney-based open source research and consulting firm Waugh Partners has won this year's State Pearcey Award for Young Achievers for its work educating the ICT sector about free software.
Waugh Partners directors Pia and Jeff Waugh received the award, which for the first time was presented to two people, instead of an individual.
The State Pearcey award is aimed at encouraging and rewarding fresh and innovative talent in the IT profession and is awarded for "innovative and pioneering achievement and contribution to research and development within the IT&T industry".
In announcing the award, past winner Dr Sylvia Pfeiffer said Jeff and Pia have made an "outstanding contribution" to the Australian IT sector, particularly in the area of open source software, and it should not be underestimated the amount of innovation that comes out of open source.
"Out of that whole domain, we are, again, one of the leaders in the world and Jeff and Pia have made a very substantial contribution to the role Australia is playing in the world of open source software," Pfeiffer said.
"They've contributed in commercial, government and non-profit arenas at both technical and strategic levels, especially in their commitment to increasing collaboration within the sector and fostering the next generation of IT experts among today's youth."
Pfeiffer said of particular significance is Waugh Partners' contribution to the community organization Linux Australia, of which Pia was president for some years.
Their organization of the annual Linux.conf.au conference, the development of the OpenCebit program at Cebit Australia, and their recent open source industry census which will provide quantitative numbers on the size of the local open source industry, was also commended.
"Jeff and Pia have a strong commitment to sharing their work for the good of others," Pfeiffer said.
In receiving the award, Jeff Waugh said the company's success is a reflection of the value of the Pearcey Foundation - standing on the shoulders of giants - and it is unfortunate most industries and communities don't benefit from open source.
"30 years of open innovation in the open source community helped us get where we are so we have to thank all our friends in the open source community," Waugh said, adding it would have been nice to receive the award from NSW education and training minister John Della Bosca as he is "one of only three members of parliament in NSW to actually utter the words open source".
"The opportunities available to us as individuals are also available to companies and governments here in Australia," he said. "For us at a micro level it has built our business, friendships, and for Australia it is a huge opportunity for productivity and innovation."
Pia Waugh said the award is an amazing honour for the company and a tribute to a community it serves.
"We will definitely be taking this back to the open source community and business industry and saying that we are all getting a bit of recognition through this," she said.
Also speaking at the award presentation was Pearcey Foundation chairman Ian Dennis who said ever since Trevor Pearcey built Australia's first computer in 1948 in Sydney, Australia has been leading the world in computers.
"We were bloody good at IT then and we are bloody good at IT now," Dennis said. "The Pearcey Foundation is about recognizing the fact that we are still damn good in IT and telling people about it."
"When we founded the Pearcey Foundation in 1998 Trevor Pearcey had just died and on the same day his obituary appeared and on the following page there was a double-page spread in the Sydney Morning Herald about Bill Gates being 'the father of the IT industry'. When I saw that we made a couple of phone calls to the AIIA and the ACS and the Pearcey Foundation was born in about 38 seconds flat."