Last night NSW Treasurer Eric Roozendaal announced $9 million in extra funding for National ICT Australia (NICTA) as he opened the research organisation's showcase at the NSW Parliament.
The State Government would provide an extra $3 million a year over the next three years, Roozendaal said, as part of the state's digital economy strategy.
"The NSW Government is developing a strong, innovation-driven digital economy with the potential to transform existing industries, drive efficiency and productivity and create new export opportunities," Roozendaal said. He added that NSW was an important state for ICT, with 47 per cent of businesses residing in the state.
The showcase Roozendaal opened displayed some of the projects currently being worked on by the organisation, in areas such as traffic management and road infrastructure monitoring, NBN applications and intelligent fleet logistics.
The Pearcey Foundation's NSW ICT Entrepreneur of the Year award was also presented at the event.
Sydney-based developers of Google Maps Lars and Jens Rasmussen were named NSW's Entrepreneurs of the Year in the information and communications technology field.
In early 2003, the brothers co-founded a mapping start-up, Where 2 Technologies, and sold it to Google in October 2004.
The Denmark-born siblings joined Google as lead engineers in the team that turned the acquisition into Google Maps, now used by millions of people around the world.
They had been working in the US's Silicon Valley but lost their jobs at the time the dotcom bubble burst — something they would later recount as a "blessing in disguise".
Online mapping, Jens argued, left room for improvement.
Mapping sites were back then almost exclusively about driving directions, but Jens wondered what would happen if they could create a platform for users to find a movie cinema, buy a ticket and then search for nearby pizza places.
After a few international relocations, the pair settled in Sydney due to US visa complications with Lars' Cuban girlfriend (now wife) — a decision that was to have enormous benefits for NSW and Australia.
"Lars and Jens' development of Google Maps has positioned Australia as a global leader in online services," the Pearcey Foundation's NSW co-chair Charles Lindop said.
"It resulted in Google establishing a significant research and development team in Sydney and the creation of many high-tech jobs.
"Google Maps is now used by around one-third of all Google visitors and represents over 3 per cent of all total global Google traffic."
The Rasmussens then did it all again with Google Wave.
"What better example of entrepreneurship and innovation can you get?" Lindop said.
The finalists for the award were Christopher Mapp from Omnilab, Geoff McQueen from Hiive Systems, James Spenceley of Vocus, Joseph Renzi from OurWishingWell and SwapAce.com, Leisl Capper of MyCyberTwin.com, Mick Liubinskas and Phil Morle from Pollenizer, and Rob Manson and Alex Young from Mob Labs.