.Net cluster success may lead to national expansion

The success of the Victorian .Net cluster, Victoria.Net, is prompting an expansion to other states, after the program to encourage .Net developers surpassed 100 members last week.

This is all the more exciting, says Norbert Haehnel, spokesperson for Victoria.Net, and director of the Microsoft Australia developer and platform strategy group, as the program only officially launched in September last year.

According to the Victorian .Net cluster’s Web site there are now 101 members and 600 known .Net projects, with an estimated value of more than $179 million, in the state.

Haehnel said the success of the Victorian cluster has led the organising group to look at setting up similar clusters across the country. “We are in the process of evaluating other state governments. The idea is to build industry development for the clusters around Australia and to create a broader network going out of Victoria.”

The Victoria.Net cluster formed last year with the Bracks government providing $80,000 seed funding. This was met with the support of about a dozen companies, such as Microsoft, Intel and Infosys.

The cluster aims to establish Victoria's reputation as a hub for .Net development and XML Web service technologies. The members, largely local ISVs, join the cluster to gain visibility to potential customers.

“The ISVs still have to sell their solutions, but we give them the platform where they can market their stuff,” Haehnel said.

The cluster conducts meetings where members meet and discuss topics. While most members have strong points in technology, many lack the business skills to promote their development work and the cluster helps many of these ISV, which are small organisations, by providing them with business planning and general marketing activities.

Haehnel said local trade shows such as CeBIT are excellent vehicles for such ISVs to demonstrate their .Net solutions, but the cost is generally what small operators can afford to pay for a stand. By participating in the cluster, they get more exposure.

More information on the Victoria.Net cluster can be found at http://www.victoriadotnet.com.au

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