Austrade tour takes French twist

Applications are open again for Austrade's Euro High Tech Tour, this year being the first in which France and Italy will be the destinations for the 10 successful applicants.

Usually winners of the Euro High Tech Tour are introduced to various contacts in industry hot-spots such as the UK, Germany and Sweden.

Tim O'Connor, manager of Austrade's technology practice in Europe, said that the French information technology and communications (ICT) economy is doing remarkably well considering the crisis affecting the rest of the globe. ICT companies make up 10 per cent of the French manufacturing industry and account for over 5 per cent of the country's gross domestic product. In 2001, this industry grew by 5.5 per cent, and such growth is expected to be maintained if not improved substantially over this year and the next.

Italy, on the other hand, is an emerging market. It is already the fourth largest IT market in Europe after the UK, France and Germany, and is rapidly becoming a favourable market for supplying ICT products.

O'Connor said Austrade is looking for 10 Australian ICT developers that would best benefit from meeting government leaders, systems integrators and potential channel partners and end-user clients in the two countries. "We are looking for bleeding-edge companies from across the whole ICT sector," he said.

Past tourists, such as mobile application developers Retriever Communications and Soprano have both made great headway in the French market, O'Connor said. Among those niches where Australian developers are most competent, and the French are most demanding of, include value-added services to telecommunications, e-government and e-learning, he said.

Sponsored by Icon Recruitment, Sun Microsystems and the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Austrade is accepting applications for the all-expenses-paid tour until August 12. Application forms are available at http://www.austradetech.com/eurotour.htm.

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