Animation Research Limited CEO Ian Taylor was recently named as the Creative Sector category winner of the 2012 World Class New Zealand Awards. When asked to comment, the Dunedin-based entrepreneur replies, "I just get up in the morning and go to work. But it occurred to me ... that it's easy to win a World Class New Zealander award. You just surround yourself with world-class Kiwis." Some of those world-class Kiwis can be found at ARL, and the history of the company shows that belief and trust in those around you is a cornerstone to success.
In 1990 a group of University of Otago students won the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest, besting the likes of Stanford, Harvard and UCLA. Ian saw the Computer Science Division's "amazing 3D graphics", and went into a joint business venture with the University and his TV production house, Taylormade. At the time it was common practise to contract computer graphics for TV to offshore agencies, but Ian believed that these Kiwi students could do better. They did, winning several International awards for their computer graphics in the following years.
By 1992 Animation Research Limited (now fully owned by Taylor) had also developed it's famed America's Cup graphics package, which consequently won the 1999 TUANZ ICT Product of the Decade Award. That led to the formation of ARL's own Sports division, Virtual Eye, that provides real-time 3D graphics of Cricket, Golf, Formula 1 and Sailing for broadcasters and event organizers worldwide.
In 2005 Airways New Zealand enlisted ARL to design an air-traffic-control simulator, complete with photo-realistic airfields, aircraft and weather conditions. The 'Total Control' package won the 2005 CILT NZ Implementation Award, and is now being developed for other countries by ARL and Airways New Zealand. As Ian puts it, "Ashley (Smout, then CEO of Airways) took a huge risk giving us that job. That's what you can do with a blank piece of paper and no track record, when someone in a position of power and influence steps up and says 'I believe in you'."