Home News Desk SMEs in the limelight at 2010 Export Awards

SMEs in the limelight at 2010 Export Awards


One builds innovative security systems, while another develops groundbreaking pharmaceutical drugs. And a third specialises in maritime simulators that train marine pilots and defence personnel.

All of them are small-to-medium businesses from Australia whose services are now in demand worldwide.

They were honoured for their achievements in international business at the 48th Australian Export Awards Ceremony, held on 1 December at Sydney Town Hall.

Twelve awards, hosted by the Minister for Trade, the Hon. Dr. Craig Emerson, MP, commended Australia’s top exporters for their achievements and commitment to success in overseas markets.

The three SMEs honoured were Future Fibre Technologies (FFT) of Victoria, Epichem of Western Australia, and Pivot Maritime International of Tasmania. FFT also took home the top prize of Australian Exporter of the Year.

According to Dr. Emerson, the 12 winners have generated more than $3.5 billion in export earnings in 2010, and employed over 13,000 people. They were characterised as “dynamic, resourceful and determined to succeed in international business.”

The Australian Export Awards are co-presented by the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Future Fibre Technologies (VIC)

Winner, Small to Medium Manufacturer Award and the 2010 Prime Minister’s Australian Exporter of the Year

Established in 1994, Future Fibre Technologies is a global leader in the manufacture of fibre optic intrusion detection and location systems. FFT has installed thousands of kilometres of optic fibre to protect the perimeters of industrial, military, petrochemical and government sites.

FFT’s optic fibre can pinpoint the exact location of an intrusion, instead of merely detecting the occurrence of an intrusion. And with patented artificial intelligence technology, it is able to discern between real intrusions and nuisance alarms.

FFT has achieved consistent year on year growth over the last 3 years in the order of 80% per year.  90% of the business is export-based, and the company has offices in the UK, the US, Europe, and the Middle East.

“Future Fibre Technologies has made a significant contribution, not just to its community, but also to the national prosperity,” said Sally-Ann Watts of Austrade.

“The company has positioned itself as a thought leader in its industry, through the publication of its annual security report,” she observed. “This document is now widely accepted as an industry reference source and has positioned FFT as the primary expert in this field.”

Epichem (WA)

Winner, Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research – Small Business Award

A contract drug discovery company, Epichem offers expertise in synthetic and medicinal chemistry to bring specialised products to its customers in 18 countries outside Australia. In doing so, the company has generated valuable intellectual property.

Among its high-profile clients, Epichem has been engaged by a Swiss-based organisation to find a cure for Chagas disease, which affects approximately 10 million people around the world.

Not a bad CV, considering Epichem was founded by a pair of scientists just seven years ago.

In a statement, the Small Business Minister, Senator Nick Sherry, praised Epichem for its innovations, “both in the laboratory and in the global marketplace.”

“The company has been recognised for its clear international marketing strategy and the strength of its relationships with research institutes and international drug companies,” Mr. Sherry said.

Through self-funding and fee-for-service work, the company is able to reduce the risks associated with the field of drug discovery. Clients in the animal health, agrochemical and mining sectors have also contracted Epichem’s services.

Pivot Maritime International (TAS)

Winner, Export Finance and Insurance Corporation – Small to Medium Services Award

For the second year in a row, Pivot Maritime has snagged the Small to Medium Services Award.

Founded in 1996, Pivot’s specialty service is maritime simulators, “which range from small speedboat simulators to full mission bridge simulators”, training those who work at sea, whether in commerce or in security, to engage in real-life scenarios. Among the professions who have benefited from Pivot’s services are marine pilots, tug masters, vessel traffic service operators, small boat operators, seafarers, and defence personnel.

Pivot also makes use of its own simulators in its training, consultancy and research services, to ensure that its systems are continually tested for efficiency.

The company’s three chief markets are commercial shipping, recreational boating and defence. Recently, it has also entered the minerals sector. Pivot identifies the US, Asia Pacific and Europe among its target markets.

“Following a significant capital investment in software development, Pivot Maritime has seen a substantial increase in both revenue and staffing levels, as well as a move into new markets,” Ms. Watts of Austrade said, commending the group on its second straight award.

Other Export Award Winners

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry – Agribusiness Award
Swift Australia (QLD)

Australia Post – Arts and Entertainment Award
Laservision (NSW)

CPA Australia – Education and Training Award
Navitas (WA)

TradeStart – Emerging Exporter Award
Ansarada (NSW)

Ernst and Young – Information and Communication Technology Award
Atlassian (NSW)

Australian Made Campaign Limited – Large Advanced Manufacturer Award
Matrix Composites & Engineering Limited (WA)

Austrade – Large Services Award
Sedgman Limited (QLD)

Minerals Council of Australia – Minerals and Energy Award
Xstrata Mount Isa Mines (QLD)

Qantas Freight – Regional Exporter Award
Kelly Engineering (SA)