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International student team places second in melbourne uni's entrepreneurship competition

3 international students at Melbourne University have placed second in the university's prestigious entrepreneurship competition, for their online technology software, TeamDraw.

The competition is sponsored by Australia's prestigious Melbourne Business School and KPMG and has been running for over 8 years. Over 60 000 Australian dollars was handed out in prize money.

26 year old Chandika Jayasundara from Sri Lanka, 27 year old Nick Foster from the UK, and 34 year old Charanjit Singh Dhaliwal from Singapore designed and built the software that they say will revolutionise the way businesses model complex products and processes.

The software helps to design a wide range of products - from computer networks to architectural plans. The three partners formed a company, Cinergix, earlier this year. The company currently has a team of engineers developing the product, which is in the process of being patented in Australia.

Their product will operate in the modelling software market that will be worth 5 billion US dollars by 2011. As a Software as a Service application provider (SaaS) Cinergix will be part of a software delivery trend that will deliver 11 billion dollars worth of software by 2011, a market which is growing at 96% annually according to Gartner, a leading technology research firm.

"Being recognised with an award like this is a real honour", says Chandika Jayasundara, the company's chief executive officer. Jayasundara originally conceptualised the idea, and has been the driving force behind the success of Cinergix.

"As an international student in Australia, learning and operating in the business environment here has been a fantastic experience. Australia's transparent business environment, positive investment climate and highly efficient infrastructure were all huge factors when we made the decision to base our business here."

The company's chief operating officer, British national Nick Foster hails from Basingstoke in the UK. He's worked in the IT industry in both the UK and Australia during the past 8 years. The challenge of getting involved in a start-up was what prompted him to join Cinergix in November 2007.

"The team is young, dynamic, and raring to go," he says. "In my previous roles, I have worked with large numbers of people and have created many software solutions – all focused on networking and the Internet. But what we have here is truly revolutionary – a disruptive technology - and could change the way companies design and create visual models forever."

Chief marketing officer, Charanjit Singh Dhaliwal from Singapore was very clear when asked why he decided to start a technology business - it's a personal passion: "Technology is all about solving problems - and we have identified a crucial problem in the market place.  Let me give you an example - you can write documents in Word - but if you didn't have the spell check function, you would have to manually check every single word to ensure it was spelt correctly. That's what we're doing - but in the design space. It's truly a great leap forward in the design technology space."

Previous winners in this competition have raised over 2 million Australian dollars from venture funds at the onset. Attracting venture capitalists and angel investors to invest funds into their project was one of the reasons that the Cinergix team entered the competition.

"Melbourne Business School and KPMG's entrepreneurship competition is viewed very positively by Australian venture capitalists," the team's CEO Jayasundara adds. "For a group of international students from all parts of the world, it's a real coup to place in this competition - so it really feels like a huge victory for us. We're in the process of meeting with interested parties, and I am feeling very positive about the future."

Cinergix has set up a research & development centre for the software in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where one of the three founders is from. While Australia will remain Cinergix's officially registered headquarters, the company is looking to expand  in South Asia and the Asia Pacific regions, as well as the United States next year.


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