PR2011: 2011 NSW ICT and Digital Media Industries Entrepreneur of the Year

2011 NSW ICT and Digital Media Industries
Entrepreneur of the Year

12th October 2011 – Sydney. The 2011 NSW ICT Entrepreneur of the Year award was tonight presented by the Hon Andrew Stoner MP, NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Trade and Investment, to Simon Poole and Steve Frisken, founders of optical communications company Engana and now Finisar Australia. The awards were held at NSW Parliament this evening in front of 150 leaders of the ICT and Digital Media industries.

For both individuals, this is their second entrepreneurial achievement. Simon launched Indx out of the Photonics CRC in 1995, and subsequently sold it to JDS Uniphase, building the team to 300 people. Steve was cofounder of Photonic Technologies, which Nortel acquired for $62m in 2000.

Together in 2001, Simon and Steve founded Engana, raised $13m in VC funding, and were acquired by US communications firm Optium in 2006 for $43m. Optium was subsequently acquired by Finisar in 2008.

Simon and Steve have built their operations from seven people in 2001 to nearly 300 people, in state-of-the-art manufacturing and development facilities in Waterloo, Sydney, with export revenues in excess of $200m.

Simon and Steve continue to innovate inside Finisar, developing industry leading optical communications technologies.

“Simon and Steve have positioned Australia as a global leader in optical communication technologies” said Pearcey NSW co-chair Charles Lindop. “They started life as publicly funded researchers and are a great example of how local University research can have global impact. What better example of entrepreneurship and innovation can you get?”

The Pearcey Foundation has once again proven Australia has innovators equal to the world’s best, and with the global reach of the Internet, our innovators can fully capitalise on their capabilities and conquer the world.
“This is peer-recognition. The talent in NSW is so rich that our judges (mainly previous winners) had a very difficult time choosing Simon and Steve over the other nominees. They are first amongst equals,” said Dr Dean Economou, Technology Strategist at NICTA and chair of the judges, “and we are delighted to give special recognition awards to all the finalists, and induct them into our entrepreneurs hall of fame.

“We are very honoured to receive this award, and to be recognised among such esteemed company,” said Steve Frisken, on behalf of himself and Simon Poole.

Receiving special recognition awards for their entrepreneurial talents and industry contribution were (alphabetic sequence):

For more information of the above Entrepreneurs, please see 2011 NSW Award

The awards included a very lively debate ‘The Secret Sauce for Australian Technology Entrepreneurs’ featuring online retailers Ruslan Kogan (, Dean McEvoy (, Karaline Loiterton ( and software pioneer Richard White from WiseTechGlobal ( and CargoWise.

”There is a great spirit of entrepreneurship in Australia, as proven by this year’s batch of winners, and celebrated through tonight’s awards. We can complain that it’s all too hard, but these people are out there, building great businesses, and proving that it isn’t,” said the debate chair Mark Jones of Filtered Media and the Australian Financial Review.

The ICT Entrepreneur of the Year award was supported by VMware, NSW Trade and Investment, NICTA and the CSIRO ICT Centre.

This evening’s winners will be finalists in the combined Pearcey, AIIA and ACS Benson National Entrepreneurs iAward, to be held in Melbourne in 2012. Last year Lars and Jens Rasmussen in 2011 won the NSW award and went on to win the national award.

About the Entrepreneur Award

The NSW ICT Entrepreneur award is awarded annually to the most outstanding ICT and digital media entrepreneur, through an open peer recognition system.

Previous winners include Lars and Jens Rasmussen (2010), Ian Gardiner, Viocorp (2009), Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes, Atlassian (2008), Jeff and Pia Waugh, Open Source Community (2007), and Matt Barrie, (2006), James Dalziel, Melcoe (2005). 2004 winner Hugh Durrant-Whyte was recently named the new CEO of renowned research group NICTA.

About the Pearcey Foundation

Founded in memory of Trevor Pearcey, who in Sydney in 1949 built CSIRAC, the world’s fourth computer and the first computer in the world to play music. Now located in the Melbourne Museum and celebrating its 62nd anniversary, CSIRAC is the oldest surviving computer in the world.

The Pearcey Foundation works to foster the aims and achievements of the Australian ICT and Digital Media industries. The foundation’s objective is to reinforce the recognition, knowledge and appreciation of Australia’s technology professions, research and industry.

For more information on the NSW Pearcey Awards please visit NSW Pearcey or call Mr Charles Lindop on 0419 224 214.

The winners Simon Poole and Steve Frisken can be contacted on 0414 448 652 and 0401 287 047 respectively.

Photographs of the winners may be obtained from Mr Charles Lindop on 0419 224 214.