A $242.7 million Government initiative will see industry and academia collaborate to develop modern manufacturing tech in various sectors including clean energy and resources.
As per the Traolerblazer Universities initiative, each centre or hub will focus their efforts on the national priority areas set out in the Modern Manufacturing Strategy.
“We’re putting our best minds to the task,” said Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.
“We’re focusing our researchers and business leaders on Australia’s national priorities to help secure our economic recovery.
“The Trailblazer Universities will be a platform for our best researchers to find business partners, invest in entrepreneurs and achieve extraordinary results for the country.”
The universities will need to demonstrate their commercialisation readiness, such as having strong links with industry partners including co-funding commitments, innovative Intellectual Property arrangements, promotion pathways for academics who focus on commercialisation activities rather than pure research, and a governance arrangement chaired by an industry leader.
The four universities, selected through a competitive process launched this month, will receive up to $50 million over four years to build their commercialisation capacity and $8.0 million in CSIRO specialist support through their proven Test Labs.
Minister for Education and Youth, Alan Tudge, said the Government will partner with universities who have shown drive and interest and are willing to lead the charge.
“Globally, our universities punch above their weight on pure basic research but lag in transforming research into breakthrough ideas, products, and new businesses,” said Tudge.
“We want our universities to play a bigger role in our economy, working hand-in-glove with Australian businesses to develop the next generation of great Australian products and companies.
“I am calling for expressions of interest from universities that are hungry to take research and convert it into commercial opportunities.”
Minister for Regionalisation, Regional Communications and Regional Education, Bridget McKenzie, said the fund would support select universities to become innovation trailblazers – including at least one regional university.
“Universities that know their communities and understand the connection between research and innovation will be the winners under this scheme,” said McKenzie.
“Our regional institutions already generate ground-breaking solutions to real-world problems, particularly in areas of agriculture and mining. This fund is a great opportunity to establish closer connections between universities and the innovation potential in their region.
“I particularly encourage our regionally based campuses to consider this opportunity, as many already have positive, ongoing relationships with industry.”
Minister for Defence Industry and Science and Technology, Melissa Price, said the new fund would drive research excellence and real-world impacts to accelerate Australia’s innovation agenda.
“The Government will be looking to tap into universities that align their research with the national manufacturing priority areas: defence, space, food and beverage, medical products, recycling and clean energy, and resources and critical minerals technology,” said Price.
“This is an exciting opportunity for our universities to develop research and technology that goes on to improve the lives of all Australians.”
Chair of the Government’s Research Commercialisation Taskforce and CEO of Siemens Australia, Jeff Connolly, said the recommendations of the taskforce have been informed by a rigorous consultation process.
“This is the first in a series of complementary measures that will contribute to an environment that focuses university research activity towards the goal of commercialisation and national economic benefit,” said Connolly.
Successful universities will also be supported through a stronger partnership with the CSIRO and access CSIRO Test Lab equipment, enabling researchers work with some of our best applied scientist to prototype and test new technologies at scale.