Four new research and industry hubs will lead Australian research in critical national manufacturing priorities.
The Australian Government’s new $242.7 million Trailblazer Universities initiative will see university and industry researchers work together to develop new Australian technologies, products and businesses. Each centre or hub will focus its efforts on the national priority areas set out in the Modern Manufacturing Strategy, including defence, space, resources technology, food and beverage, clean energy and medical products.
“We’re putting our best minds to the task,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison. “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, will receive up to $50 million over four years to build their commercialisation capacity and $8 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,” Minister Tudge said.
“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 select at least one regional university.
“Our regional institutions already generate ground-breaking solutions to real-world problems, particularly in areas of agriculture and mining,” Minister McKenzie said. “This fund is a great opportunity to establish closer connections between universities and the innovation potential in their region.
The 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,” Mr Connolly said.
Successful universities will also be supported through a stronger partnership with the CSIRO and access CSIRO Test Lab equipment, enabling researchers to work with some of our best applied scientists to prototype and test new technologies at scale.
This is the first initiative of the Australian Government’s research commercialisation agenda, with further announcements made in coming weeks.
Universities are invited to submit an initial expression of interest which will be used to shortlist applicants. For more information, visit www.dese.gov.au/trailblazer-universities-program