Uni start-up snubbed by ACT govt

Summary:The Australian Capital Territory Government has snubbed a group of six university students from the Australian National University (ANU) by going to tender for a new, $12.5 million bus-tracking application, instead of using an application that the students had developed and offered to the government for free.

The Australian Capital Territory Government has snubbed a group of six university students from the Australian National University (ANU) by going to tender for a new, $12.5 million bus-tracking application, instead of using an application that the students had developed and offered to the government for free.

Earlier in the year, the students came together and pitched an idea for a GPS-based bus-tracking system that mapped out where the closest bus stop is and when the next bus would be along. Calling themselves the Imagine Team, the six students offered to build the app for the state-owned ACTION bus service, free of charge.

The ACT government turned the Imagine Team down on the idea, with the team saying that they had been told that there was no money available for the project.

Months on, however, the ACT government has announced plans to go to tender for a system remarkably similar to the one proposed by the Imagine Team, with an attached price tag of $12.5 million, according to The Canberra Times.

Imagine Team member Andrew Clapham told ZDNet Australia today that he and the team were stunned and amused when the government revealed the multi-million dollar figure.

"When we came to them in March and said we want an app for live bus tracking, GPS at bus stops and timetable data, they said 'there's no money for this'. It was a bit of a surprise to hear that there was $12.5 million offered for an idea so similar to ours.

"They turned us down when we offered to do it for free, and then it's quite surprising to see them offer so much money for it. They knew we'd already written a prototype for this," Clapham said. That prototype, now called My Bus 2.0, has been well received by ACT commuters, reaching over 1300 downloads so far.

While the allocation of funds to such a project may come as good news to some, the Imagine Team remains wary of the tendering process, expressing concerns that they may be excluded from the project due to their size.

"We'd hate to see the tender be an enormous project that only a large corporate can bid for. It'd be impossible for us to tender for the whole thing, so we'd love to see it split into smaller parts," Clapham said, adding that Imagine would be interested in working on the back-end and app-development portion of the project.

ZDNet Australia contacted the ACT Government for comment; however, it hadn't responded at the time of publication.

The Imagine Team is set to meet with the government later in the year for "further discussion" over the system.

Topics: Government, Government : AU, Mobility, Software

About

A fresh recruit onto the tech journalism battlefield, Luke Hopewell is eager to see some action. After a tour of duty in the belly of the Telstra beast, he is keen to report big stories on the enterprise beat. Drawing on past experience in radio, print and magazine, he plans to ask all the tough questions you want answered.

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