Wireless fund boosts small province tech

Prince Edward Island may be the smallest province in Canada, butits new media industry is growing by leaps and bounds, thanks inpart to the Wireless Technology Development Fund.

Introduced last year by the provincial government in partnershipwith Rogers Wireless and Ericsson Canada, the fund is administeredby P.E.I. Business Development and Technology P.E.I.

The first company to be awarded the fund, Doodlez Wireless Inc., isa joint venture of Charlottetown-based Cellar Door Productions andToronto-based Trapeze Media.

Gretha Rose, president and executive producer of Cellar DoorProductions, was thrilled that the funding bodies recognizedDoodlez, an animated series, as leading edge and interactive.

“I knew who some of the competition was,” said Rose. “I actuallydidn’t think we would get it just because of the type ofcompetition, and I wasn’t sure how entertainment would beviewed.

Doodlez is having great success with the whole concept of wirelessand mobile around the world, she said.

Minister of Development and Technology, Mike Currie, said the fundis available to encourage the development of new products andservices, wireless technology and mobile business.

“We encourage businesses to take advantage of the opportunity todevelop innovative ideas into viable business plans through thesupport of this new fund,” he said.

And taking advantage is exactly what Cellar Door Productions hasdone.

“It allowed us to proceed to be able to take the prototype out toother stakeholders, so this is a very key piece of funding,” saidRose.

John Eden, account executive for IT & New Media, government ofP.E.I., said they wanted to develop a fund that would be attractiveto all the players involved, developers and financial investorsalike.

“We wanted to talk to financial developers who were already in theprovince to give them a way to minimize their risks with respect toinvesting in video games, animation, etc. and to put money intodevelopment,” said Eden. “The fund is a way to help projectdevelopments and lower their risk of getting involved.”

Eden, who is also the fund administrator, said new media issomething that is growing in P.E.I.

“One of the things we’re doing here in P.E.I. is that we realizethat we’re small and we can’t just go out and try and be everythingto everybody, so we have a very strategic approach to development,”he said.

Rogers and Ericsson will be contributing $500,000 to the fund whichthe government is matching, according to Eden. The exact amountthat Doodlez is to be awarded is $50,000, the maximum.

“Doodlez negotiated a royalty return based on revenueexpectations,” Eden said. “They will, if they make money, pay backa portion of money awarded from the fund, based on a percentage ofsales.”

The fund allowance will be used to create a series of new javabased wireless applications including a weather application andanimated greeting cards which will feature the characters fromDoodlez, according to Rose.

“We’re also doing a Maze Game which is kind of a Doodlez meets PacMan, which is very cool,” she said.

Deadlines for the fund have been removed, so a company can apply atany time to better fit their project schedules, said Eden.

“We could hand it out to three companies in the next three months,and then not award it again for a year,” he said. “It depends onwhen the applications come in, and if we feel they’re worthy, wellthought out and have a chance at success.

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