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First Australia-France joint R&D lab to be established in Adelaide

An international research laboratory which will strengthen scientific collaboration between South Australian universities, Naval Group Pacific and French scientific research organisation CRNS will be established shortly in Adelaide.

The French Government’s CNRS, or National Centre for Scientific Research, an equivalent to CSIRO, and French maritime technology, shipbuilding and energy company Naval Group, have signed a Letter of Intent with Flinders University, the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia. They will jointly develop a proposal to establish an industry-linked CNRS international joint laboratory in Adelaide. This would be one of only five such CNRS laboratories in the world.

This initiative is one of a number of significant defence-associated education and research commitments sealed last year in Canberra during the visit of French Minister for Higher Education, Research and Innovation Mme Frédérique Vidal. It builds on successful existing collaborations between the three South Australian universities and CNRS research laboratories, such as Lab-STICC in Brittany.

Flinders University Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling says the combined strength of three world-class universities located in South Australia makes Adelaide an ideal location for the laboratory.

“By drawing on the specific research fortes of each university we collectively provide an unrivalled capacity in advanced research,” he says. “In Flinders’ case, it’s the exciting emerging technologies we’re leading in autonomous systems. We’re also actively contributing to research involving psychology and innovation.”

University of South Australia Vice Chancellor, Professor David Lloyd, says that the decision to create the Joint Laboratory is a visionary and very welcome initiative by the CNRS and Naval Group CEOs.

“This is a landmark opportunity to boost both Australian-French scientific cooperation and Australian sovereign technical capability in a range of key areas, including those that connect human factors with the physical aspects of maritime vehicles in novel ways,” according to UniSA Vice Chancellor, Professor David Lloyd.

UniSA’s contribution will include its world-leading interdisciplinary expertise in research relating to Human Solutions for Complex Environments, including psychophysiology and behaviour, metrics-based ergonomic design and virtual reality and augmented reality.

University of Adelaide Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Rathjen says he welcomes this international collaboration.

“The intersection of autonomous systems, artificial intelligence and human factors is one of the key frontiers of research today. The opportunity to collaborate with some of France’s brightest minds on this frontier promises exciting outcomes.”

Naval Group Vice President International R&D Cooperation François Duthoit welcomes the collaboration.

“We are committed to cultivating an innovation environment in Australia around our scientific, education and industrial community,” he says. “The establishment of the laboratory is one of the key pillars of this commitment and will provide us with opportunities to collaborate with our Australian University and R&D partners in the areas of autonomous systems, human factors and artificial intelligence.”

Alongside academics from the three universities, the joint laboratory will be able to draw on relevant expertise across CNRS’s 33,000 researchers as well as Naval Group experts.

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