NICTA spin-off opens US head office

NICTA spin-off opens head office

update Local start-up Open Kernel Labs has become the first spin-off of government-sponsored National ICT Australian (NICTA) to establish its headquarters in the United States.

The company -- which develops embedded operating systems for consumer electronics devices -- will be managed from a new office in Chicago. The office will manage corporate functions, business development and field engineering, while Open Kernel's research and development operations will remain in Australia. Open Kernel Labs was spun out of NICTA, funded by Australia's state and federal governments, in August 2006.

"NICTA committed a lot more money towards commercialising the research," NICTA CEO David Skellern told ZDNET Australia, "which has happened even sooner than we could have expected."

The opening of its new US premsises was timed with the release of the latest version of its OKL4 operating system. OKL4 is an open-source based microkernel -- a stripped down, basic operating system -- for used in embedded systems such as a small consumer electronics devices.

Skellern said that the software unpinned the operating system in a small device, providing security of access between the OS and hardware components such as the processor and memory.

The company claims OKL4 is currently under evaluation from several semiconductor and consumer device manufacturers.

While it offers OKL4 for free via open source programs, Open Kernel Labs does derive revenues from professional services work -- a combination of consulting and customer support/service packages (offering customisation, support, training and architecture porting to major manufacturers).

The company cites Ericsson and Qualcomm as companies that have signed up for some of these services.

"With the incorporation of OK, NICTA can claim another success of its program to commercialise technology," said Skellern in a statement released yesterday. "OK is the first spin-out of NICTA to be incorporated in the United States and the company begins its commercial life with a revenue stream as well as strong interest from large global companies."