The University of South Australia has welcomed the South Australian Government’s $7.5 million investment in its new advanced manufacturing and engineering research institute supporting a range of initiatives that will help create the State’s future industries.
The State Government package underpins a partnership with UniSA’s Future Industries Institute (FII) in which UniSA makes an annual investment of over $14 million for research that is industry-engaged and globally-connected in four key areas – energy and advanced manufacturing; minerals and resource engineering; environmental science and engineering and biomaterials engineering and nanomedicine.
UniSA Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Tanya Monro says the Government investment will be a game-changer for research and development in South Australia.
“UniSA’s Future Industries Institute was established with a completely new research culture in mind – one deeply engaged with industry, with the end goal of building economic growth through relevant innovation and industry partnership,” Prof Monro says.
“Now, more than ever, effective collaboration between universities and business is essential to drive economic growth and this investment from the Government will intensify and accelerate that collaboration.”
The three initiatives the Government has funded will give local businesses and industries access to state-of-the-art equipment at the FII; fund two-way industry/academic placements to support project specific collaborations both ‘in the lab’ and ‘on the floor’; and distribute12-month, $100,000 project vouchers for industry to work with UniSA to solve specific industry problems.
UniSA Vice Chancellor, Professor David Lloyd says the announcement offers great encouragement to small to medium enterprises that are highly skilled and enterprising but perhaps don’t have the infrastructure or research capacity to meet their goals.
“This funding will open up incredible resources to local industries,” Prof Lloyd says.
“Based at Mawson Lakes, the FII has some of the most advanced laboratories in the country and unique technological capabilities in Australia, fit for research across a range of industrial disciplines and this funding will provide access to those facilities.
“There are also over 200 highly skilled professors, researchers and research students based at the Institute keen to challenge their expertise in real world scenarios and contribute breakthrough ideas that will have flow-on benefits to the community.
“And our expertise is not simply local – our teams bring their expertise from all corners of the globe and are some of the best in the world – and we have forged strong partnerships with other universities such as University College London and its highly regarded Faculty of Engineering.
“This announcement really represents a boon for local business and industry but also an important opportunity to build a stronger culture of engagement and entrepreneurialism within the Institute.”
Institute Director, Professor Emily Hilder says she is excited to begin talking with local businesses about how the FII can help them to reach their goals.
“My ambition is that the FII becomes a model of effective and sustainable collaboration between universities and business,” Prof Hilder says.
“Unlike some countries, Australia does not have a strong, industry-supported, large scale R&D culture, so this support from the State Government will build that capacity and create opportunities for businesses to accelerate their growth potential.
“There is so much to gain by working together. As Director of the Institute I can see these initiatives will help to develop entrepreneurial and business capacity in our university researchers and at the same time, it will create opportunities for businesses to fast-track their growth by being able to employ research-trained staff.
“Ultimately it is a move that will help to change the face of business and industry in SA by creating a sustainable ecosystem in which innovative growth-focussed and complex industries thrive, supported by vibrant links with university research and vice versa.”
Budget details relating to FII:
Annual Mobility Grants from 2017/2018
Annual Mobility grants to fund salary and on-costs for placements of up to 12 months, for researchers from business to the FII and vice versa. The grants will focus on new initiatives with defined business outcomes, such as up-skilling staff and/or the translation of research outcomes to commercial products.
$500,000 annually to access research equipment and infrastructure
This provides industry and business access to the more than $60 million in major equipment and research infrastructure such as specialist laboratories and instruments at the FII.
The investment will support a small number of dedicated technical staff to provide expert advice, training and analysis for businesses as well as providing access to specialist equipment and instrumentation, laboratories or other specialist space in which to pilot new R&D initiatives.
$1 million annually in Research & Development Vouchers
Support of up to $100k for projects up to 12 months duration focused on addressing a pressing industry problem. These vouchers would allow SMEs with growth potential to rapidly test potential product ideas or improvements.