Aussie tech companies take on Silicon Valley

The Australian government is helping local companies promote themselves in Silicon Valley

An Australian governmental trade agency has organised a tour of Silicon Valley for Australian businesses next month, in the hope that high-tech local companies will gain access to some of the heavy hitters headed up in the US.

Austrade, which is a statutory authority within the Federal Government's Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio, has organised a tour for early June where 12 Australian tech companies will have appointments with US companies in the area to discuss their business objectives.

Michelle Pflaum, business development manager of IT at Austrade in San Francisco, said that following 11 September, the agency had seen an increase in the number of Australian tech companies trying to break into the US market. However, although the sales made by Australian companies had increased, so too had the sales cycles. Pflaum estimated that a sale that would have taken about a month to close about 18 months ago, was now taking closer to twice that time.

She attributed this to a greater level of scrutiny by US companies, questioning whether they needed a particular technology, and also how they anticipated benefiting from it.

"The downside is that because it's taking longer to close it's taking more commitment to get into the market," Pflaum said. "One of the major challenges (for the Australian tech companies) is the commitment to the market -- you can't in one visit establish your customer base and strategic partnerships."

However, Pflaum said she'd also seen an increasing awareness by Australian companies about what it took to succeed in the US marketplace.

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