Good things from down under
To an outsider it does appear that both the Aussie and Kiwi cultures are similar to that of the United States in times passed. So why do we see relatively few electronics companies from Australasia on the global scene?
Is it partly it is to do with the nature of critical mass, globalization and connectedness? Is it partly it is to do with the fact that as English speakers transplanting such people to the UK or, more likely, Silicon Valley is relatively easy? Or perhaps Southeast Asia has become the latest location to attract engineers from the neighboring continent? There here also cultural differences to other places in the world. These may include an Australian and New Zealand emphasis on agriculture, mining and so on – and engineering related to these matters.
EDA pioneer Professor Richard Newton, who became Dean of Engineering at University California Berkeley, is a prime example of Australian excellence that went to California to shine. Quality Semiconductor Pty. Ltd. for many years pioneered silicon-on-sapphire production at a wafer fab in Sydney before being acquired by IDT Inc. and then by Peregrine Semiconductor (San Diego, Calif.). It has now been returned to Australian ownership under Silanna Semiconductor. The best example I can think of from New Zealand is wireless charging company PowerByProxi founded in 2007 in Auckland as a spin-off from the local university. And we should not forget Tony King-Smith, a graduate of the University of Melbourne, who came to the UK and worked for Inmos and has risen to become executive vice president of marketing for circuit IP licensor Imagination Technologies Group plc.
There are, of course, many more electronics companies and individuals from Australia and New Zealand making an impact and the examples given are only meant to be a start to your own list.
To which you can add another example of Australian creativity and entrepreneurship, Panoroma Synergy Ltd. (Perth, Western Australia), a company that has developed a chemical sensor based on the interaction of light from silicon photonic structures with a microscopic cantilever beam to create a novel chemical sensor. It bounces light off the underside of movable cantilever beam to detect different molecules that have landed on and adhered to the topside of the beam.
In this case enlightenment is literally coming from down under. And like many things from Australia and New Zealand – along with the countries themselves – worth checking out.
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