Seeing Machines gets a global view with Efic

AUSTRALIAN computer vision technology innovator, Seeing Machines, is making an impact globally, especially in the area of driver monitoring and safety.

Founded in 2000 as part of an association with Australian National University, Seeing Machines today is at the forefront of driver monitoring technology and has more than 200 staff and operations worldwide including the US, the UK, South America, Europe and across South East Asia. 

“Our solution enables machines to see, understand and assist people – we’re considered a world-leader in computer vision technology,” Seeing Machines chief financial officer James Palmer said. 

“The primary application is driver monitoring systems, and it basically monitors driver attention for drowsiness and distraction using face recognition and eye-tracking. The aim is to reduce accidents and help save lives.”

The first real opportunity to commercialise the Seeing Machines technology came in 2007 as a result of the resources boom. Seeing Machines technology was originally used in heavy mining vehicles in Australia to monitor shift workers and reduce accidents and incidents.

It was in this resource-boom period that the organisation started exporting, taking advantage of opportunities in overseas markets which were also benefiting from growth in the mining sector.

This resulted in an exclusive global partnership with Caterpillar in 2015, through a licensing agreement, which has enabled Seeing Machines to expand its capabilities into other transport areas and expand its footprint globally.

“In 2016 our attention turned to taking the product and making it work for coaches and commercial fleets,” Mr Palmer said. “That led to the birth of our fleet business.

“Our products had to be retro-fitted to suit the needs of lighter, less rugged vehicles and we also looked at applications for the automotive sector.” 

Working as part of a supply chain, Seeing Machines has built relationships with a range of corporates that sell bundled solutions to automotive companies. Seeing Machines’ FOVIO software was launched in September 2017 in the General Motors CT6 Cadillac.

“It’s the first car to have ‘level two’ autonomous driving that monitors the driver during hands-free driving to ensure that the driver can take over when conditions change,” Mr Palmer said.

“We are also working to deliver the technology to other automotive brands. The lead times are huge so we will only see the next vehicles with our driver monitoring technology roll off the production lines from 2021.”


In 2017, Seeing Machines experienced a growing demand for its expanded range of solutions, winning business from the reputation of its market-leading technologies.

The executive team recognised the business was evolving from what was effectively a technology start-up to a more mature business. There grew a rapid need to scale for greater manufacturing volumes and dealing with multiple overseas suppliers.

One of the key opportunities that the organisation was looking at was a landmark contract with Thai-based distributor, Kiattana Transport, in the fleet business. Seeing Machines won a contract to deliver 8,000 units of its Guardian driver monitoring units and needed working capital to manage manufacturing and delivery by June 2018.

Mr Palmer said the company explored opportunities with their own bank and also several others.

“Their answer to us was always that we were a little too early stage for them,” Mr Palmer said. “And in fact, one of the banks we were talking to did suggest Efic as an option. 

“Efic really took the time to understand our business and to model the cashflow that worked with our distributors. In fact, some of the modelling we did as part of the due diligence actually helped us think through some of our cashflow planning,” Mr Palmer said.

In September 2017, Seeing Machine was able to access a US$2 million export line of credit facility. This was seen as the first step to expand the relationship with Kiattana Transport and increase the export capacity of the business.

“Kiattana is very passionate about our products and we are also working closely with them on the monitoring component of our service,” Mr Palmer said.

“Without Efic’s help, delivering on that contract would have given us real headaches in terms of being able to manage the working capital requirements.

“This is the first time this company has ever had any debt, because we’ve always been a start-up. It’s a sign of a company maturing when they need to access facilities like the one from Efic.”

He said with first-mover advantage in both fleet and automotive markets, the company was looking at some exciting growth opportunities in international markets.

Always the innovator, Seeing Machines is also looking to grow into additional transport sectors and have teams developing future solutions for rail and aviation.

Efic is the Australian Government’s export credit agency, helping Australian businesses to access export finance when their banks may be unable to assist.


Australian filmmakers explore opportunities in China

AUSTRALIAN film production capability has been showcased in China during a delegation visit to discuss opportunities for joint projects.

The mission in mid-June to Beijing and Shanghai aimed to generate sales for Australian filmmakers, identify leads for potential TV and film projects to bring to Australia and influence the development of early stage projects through partnerships and co-productions.

This follows the Australian Government’s recent announcement of a $140 million Location Incentive by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, to "attract more international blockbusters" for production in Australia, helping to grow the local industry.

"The incentive, delivered over four years, is estimated to bring in over $260 million per year in new foreign investment to the Australian economy and create more than 3,000 jobs annually for our talented cast and crew," Trade Minister Steve Ciobo said.

"Australia’s screen production industry is recognised globally for its creativity, experienced production companies and sophisticated film making infrastructure," he said. "As a film location, Australia offers a wide variety of talent, scenic locations and quality studio facilities, all supported by government incentives.

"China produces hundreds of feature films each year, has tens of thousands of cinemas and television audiences of hundreds of millions, therefore Australia’s official co-production agreement provides great opportunities for our highly skilled film industry."

The Australia-China Film Industry Exchange, organised by Screen Australia and Ausfilm in partnership with Austrade, featured a series of business roundtables and networking opportunities to strengthen engagement between Australian and Chinese film makers.

Delegates include leaders from state government film and television agencies and se

www.screen representatives from Australia’s film production industry, including visual effects, post production and sound production.


The right ‘tools’ can help Australian SMEs crack international trade

AUSTRALIAN Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, has predicted 2018 will be a year of strong growth for small business exporters.

Ms Carnell said Australia’s International Business Survey 2017 showed there was greater confidence among Australian businesses that are already exporting. 

Ms Carnell said the 2017 Australian Export Awards showcased some great examples, including small business category winner, Tooletries, founded in Brisbane by brothers Josh and Saul Cockburn.

Funded by private capital and a Kickstarter campaign, Tooletries designs and manufactures bathroom accessories such as mirrors, toothbrush and razor holders and wall organisers that can be fixed to vertical surfaces utilising the company’s patented silicone technology.

The company’s products are stocked in more than 1500 retail stores and supermarkets across the US, and are available in Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan and the UK.

Exports made up 100 percent of Tooletries’ sales revenue in 2016–17.

In agriculture and wholesaling, two thirds of businesses believe the outlook is better than the previous two years, Ms Carnell said.

The report identified China, the United States and United Kingdom as being markets where strong revenue growth would occur.

Commissioned by the Export Council of Australia – with support from Austrade, Australian export finance organisation Efic and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) – Australia’s International Business Survey 2017 collected the opinions of 941 firms from 19 sectors undertaking international activities in more than 90 overseas markets.  

“Australia is seeing increased growth in exports and small businesses are leading the way,” Ms Carnell said.

“Nearly 88 percent of Australian exporters are small-to-medium enterprises.

“An increasing number of firms are ‘born global’, which means they’re exporting at the very beginning.”

Ms Carnell said the survey findings matched Efic’s exporter sentiment index from August last year, which showed two thirds of respondents expected future sales revenue to increase.

“Potential exporters need to know there is support available from Austrade and Efic to research their markets, make connections and obtain finance,” Ms Carnell said.

“Over the past three years, Efic has worked with more than 262 small businesses and provided more than $350 million in financial support.

“Efic is the Australian Government’s export credit agency; it operates on a commercial basis and partners with banks.

“It’s a model I believe should also be looked at for small business finance more broadly.”

The survey showed just over one third of respondents had applied for finance and almost 40 percent of these were unsuccessful.

Ms Carnell said this illustrated the challenge for small businesses to obtain capital from traditional banks, which require property as security.

“It’s great that more entrepreneurs are getting started with exports, but rapidly growing small businesses need sources of finance that don’t require putting the family home on the line,” she said.

In the survey, small exporters are regarded as those with fewer than 20 employees and annual turnover less than $2million, with exports of less than $2m during the reference period. Large exporters are those with 200 or more employees, or annual turnover of $20million or more, with exports of $20million or more during the reference period. Medium exporters are all businesses other than those defined as small or large.






















Total Goods Exporters




*Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics.


Australian defence companies suit up for export push

THE second edition of the Australian Military Sales Catalogue was released this week to promote the products and services produced by Australia’s defence industry internationally.

Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said the first catalogue launched in 2017 had been successful for the companies involved. The second edition features 69 companies manufacturing defence products and providing services to the sector. 

“The Australian Military Sales is an important initiative for us to showcase the vast range of products and services the Australian defence industry can export to our friends and allies to boost their capability,” Mr Pyne said. 

The catalogue lists Australian Defence Force (ADF) equipment featuring a demonstrated viable capability that other countries might seek to purchase.

“It supports our Smart Buyer approach to the acquisition, sustainment and disposal of ADF capability by working more closely with industry,” Mr Pyne said.

“This year’s catalogue has been expanded to include products and services from 69 Australian defence companies – including small and medium enterprises, and companies located across the country including from regional Australia.

“As Minister for Defence Industry, I am constantly reminded of the enormous ability, skill and determination of our Australian defence industry. The Turnbull Government is supporting them in a number of ways including through the Defence Export Strategy I announced with the Prime Minister on 29 January 2018.

“This catalogue is another way for the government to help Australia’s Defence Industry reach the markets of our friends and allies,” Mr Pyne said.

The transfer of ex-ADF equipment to foreign governments is subject to a “rigorous” approval process independent from the Australian Military Sales Office, Mr Pyne said.


Export Council applauds Australia on digital trade approach

THE Export Council of Australia (ECA) has applauded the Australian Government’s leading efforts in establishing a work program to set rules for digital trade at the 11th World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC11) this week in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

“Open, transparent and rules-based international trade are critical to Australia’s economic prosperity,” ECA strategic advisor Lisa McAuley said.

“E-commerce, digital trade and the tech start-ups they foster are increasingly important elements of Australia’s trade future. 

“Creating certainty around digital rules and regulations will therefore allow companies in Australia’s digital economy to confidently explore opportunities around the world,” Ms McAuley said. 

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Steven Ciobo said this initiative would put in place a framework to shape the rules of international e-commerce in the years to come.

It included 70 of the WTO’s 164 members that collectively account for more than 75 percent of global trade, including the US, Japan and the European Union.

Ms McAuley said the agreement would assist in implementing basic standards for digital trade in areas like consumer protection and electronic contracts.

Such standards may play a critical role in removing barriers and complexities to digital trade, with studies finding that around 70 regional trade agreements around the world currently include chapters on e-commerce, according to the ECA.



Resources on agenda during Australia Business Week in India

  • Trade

A SERIES of mining equipment, technology and services related seminars, meetings and events took place at Australia Business Week in India 2017 last week

Building on the first Australia Business Week in India in 2015, more than 150 business delegates took part this year. Australia’s delegation met Indian businesses and officials in more than 75 sessions and site visits.

“India is the world's fastest growing major economy and our trade and investment ties with this important partner are becoming stronger each year,” said Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Keith Pitt, who led the mining services aspects of the trade mission. 

“By 2030, India is forecast to be the third largest economy in the world, and will also have one of the youngest populations,” Mr Pitt said.

“The opportunities for Australian businesses are profound and I congratulate the large number of delegates for joining Australia Business Week in India 2017.”

The business mission overall was led by Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister, Steven Ciobo. Australian Government Ministers planned to visit cities including New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bhopal, but some of those sessions were curtailed owing to localised flooding. 

Mr Pitt said he focused on the energy and resources sector delegation across both New Delhi and Kolkata.

Mr Pitt said Australia was a major supplier of energy to India. Australia’s exports of coal helped to underpin India’s goal of energy security and Australian firms in the mining, equipment and technology services – known as the METS sector -- were also helping to improve the safety and efficiency of India’s mines.

In 2016, India was Australia's fifth biggest export market for goods, the sixth for services exports, and total goods and services exports were worth $14.1 billion.

Mr Pitt said two-way trade had grown from about $609 million in 2004 to $20.7 billion in 2016.

"Two-way trade between Australia and India has grown rapidly but more can always be done to expand our trade and investment ties, particularly by bringing businesses together,” he said.

“Australia Business Week in India 2017 will build on the success of the inaugural event in 2015, which created lasting relationships and generated millions of dollars of business.”


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