Savannah-based Digitus Biometrics Inc., a company that provides secure access control technology for buildings, has landed a contract with a company in Sweden, further solidifying the developing relationship between the Scandinavian country and Georgia’s main port.

Jarnuags Fabriken purchased two fingerprint identification access systems from Digitus, and the company has already shipped them to a new business incubator in Växjö, where Georgia companies will be able to gain access to the Swedish market and the European Union.

Chris Marsden, founder and chief technology officer for Digitus, said that the company sees Sweden as its portal into the rest of the European Union.

“The Swedish market in itself is not a vastly big market, but it’s penetrating all of Europe into the likes of Russia and the Scandinavian countries,” he said.

Although the contracts are not final, Digitus plans to install the same system in a Savannah incubator that will be established in the city’s old Candler Hospital building, said Claude Galipeault, the chief application developer with Digitus.

The renovated facility will be the Swedish incubator’s American counterpart, providing a “soft landing pad pillow” for Swedish companies that want to begin operations in the United States, said Chris Miller, exeutive director of the Creative Coast Initiative, a non-profit organization that aims to attract knowledge-based businesses to Savannah.

Mr. Miller, whose organization is creating the Savannah incubator, said that the Digitus contract is a big first step in helping his organization achieve its goal of linking Sweden with Savannah.

“In essence, we are setting up a business and talent conduit between Savannah and Sweden,” he said. “The goal is to make it easy for smart Swedish companies who wish to enter the U.S. market.”

After living over 20 years in Atlanta, where he played a significant role in founding Mindspring, an early Internet service provider acquired by Earthlink in 2000, Mr. Miller moved to Savannah to take advantage of its laid-back, Southern charm and its huge talent pool and innovation economy.

He mentioned that Savannah College of Art and Design is one of the nation’s premier design colleges, with one quarter of its 8,000 students involved with digital media, which is attractive to tech-savvy Swedish enterprises.

All these factors combined make Savannah the ideal place for Swedish companies to break into the American market, Mr. Miller said.

“Because Savannah is the most European of cities, the Swedes really ‘get’ Savannah,” he said.

Mr. Marsden, who hails from England, spent the last seven years working for his own information technology company and developing the technology that would form the basis for Digitus.

Throughout that time, he nurtured a transatlantic partnership with Mr. Galipeault, whom he coincidentally had met at a convention in Miami about seven years ago.

The two collaborated to launch Digitus two years ago, and within that time, Mr. Marsden has worked to gradually transfer all the intellectual property from England to Digitus’ Savannah headquarters.

Having spent the entire month of July in Savannah, he plans to move his family there within the next two weeks.

Although Mr. Marsden lives in Europe and a decade ago Mr. Galipeault served for three years as an undiplomatic ambassador promoting technology exchange between the U.S. and Sweden, it was Mr. Miller who brought the Swedish companies to Digitus’ doorstep a few months ago.

During that meeting, “because of my background we established a really tight relationship with the Swedish delegation,” Mr. Galipeault said.

Now, Digitus’ first Swedish customer plans to promote the Digitus system at the annual Entrepreneurial Days conference in Växjö, sponsored by the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce Aug. 20-23. Mr. Miller, Mr. Marsden and Mr. Galipeault all plan to attend.

The product represented at the Swedish incubator is a newly developed fingerprint access control system that gives a level of sophistication and security that goes beyond the status quo, Mr. Marsden said.

Digitus’ two-part system is comprised of a reading unit on the outside of the door connected by a single wire to a secure box on the inside. No digital information is stored on the outer box, and the system does not use any patterned codes.

“We’ve developed a proprietary code-hopping system where every time those two units send a command, it’s encrypted differently each time,” Mr. Marsden said.

Digitus supplies these systems and other biometric-based technological innovations to a variety of industries throughout Georgia and the world.

The company has contracts and pending contracts with Hunter Army Airfield at Fort Stewart in Savannah and a pending contract with the U.S. Coast Guard in Boston, Mr. Marsden said.

Digitus has 150 systems that secure high-risk areas like airports, hospitals and factories in countries such as France and Nigeria, and the company can only see expansion on the horizon, Mr. Galipeault said. Story Contacts, Links and Related Stories Digitus Biometrics – Claude Galipeault (912) 231-8175

Creative Coast Initiative – Chris Miller (912) 447-8457