The Hong Kong Computer Society has received more than $2 million from the Industry Department to finance the first IT Excellence Awards. Targeting IT vendors and users, the competition aims to encourage technology development and application, with gold, silver and bronze awards for IT innovation and application. Entries close at the end of next month. There will not be cash awards. Agnes Mak, chairman of the steering committee, said: 'IT people treasure more the technology achievement and recognition.' She was confident the awards would attract 'many' applications, but had no estimate of numbers. However, K.M. Ho, design manager of Tantalus Engineering, an SAR software developer, said the lack of cash rewards would deter it from entering its industrial control software, which has won the Hong Kong Industry Award, into the competition. Another local IT firm, Display Research Laboratory, which has developed a video chip for application in video-capture products, said it would not consider cash rewards but the significance of the campaign when deciding whether to enter. President S.C. Mok said he had not made up his mind. According to Ms Mak, more than $1 million will be spent in the first year to design and create the trophies and publicise the event, which the society hopes will become a significant annual contest with recognition from the entire industry. Ms Mak said the society might find commercial sponsors to organise the event in the coming years but not this year because it wanted to establish a clear image of fair and neutral awards. Award co-organisers include the Hong Kong Industrial Technology Centre, the Hong Kong Information Technology Federation and the Hong Kong Productivity Council. Both local IT companies questioned agreed the IT Excellence Awards would have positive impact on IT development in the SAR but Mr Ho said there should be monitors on the use of government funding to ensure it achieved its target. Applications close on October 31, and results will be announced in mid-January next year. Details can be found on the computer society's Web site ( www.hkcs.org.hk/it awards).