Vice-Chancellor shares Flinders’ vision at Tonsley event

Flinders Vice-Chancellor VCProfessor Colin Stirling told 300 guests at Tonsley yesterday afternoon that  collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship are at the heart of Flinders’ activities at Tonsley, and the University’s focus is on the delivery of high impact solutions to real-world problems that will improve lives and build businesses in the community.

Professor Stirling was joined by Deputy Premier John Rau, Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation Kyam Maher, the Managing Director of Beach Energy, Mr Reg Nelson, and Chief Executive of Siemens, Mr Jeff Connolly, at the Department of State Development and Renewal SA’s Tonsley Milestone event yesterday afternoon.

The full transcript of the Vice-Chancellor’s speech is below.

“Distinguished Guests, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen.

It’s a pleasure to be here this afternoon, as we celebrate the ongoing transformation of Tonsley into a world-class, collaborative and high-value industry, education and residential precinct.

As we all know, economic growth is a priority for South Australia and Flinders University is committed to working with the community and with government – through the Department for State Development and Renewal SA – to find new ways of doing business, new ways to create value, and new ways to capitalise on our collective talents to stimulate jobs growth.

An exciting and very tangible example of this is right here, in the form of our new Flinders at Tonsley flagship; a $120 million state-of-the-art teaching and research facility designed to promote collaboration, innovation and enterprise.

The building will house our School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics, the Flinders Medical Device Research Institute, Flinders Partners, and the Centre for Nanoscale Science & Technology. It will also become a hub for entrepreneurs and future employers working with the Flinders New Venture Institute to create next generation start-up companies.

By bringing together the very best students, researchers and entrepreneurs in a collaborative environment we can build links, and foster knowledge-exchange, in ways that build businesses and enhance impact.

Our students will enjoy “hands on’’ experiences in engineering – from aircraft wings and autonomous underwater vehicles – located in a 2,000 square metre “pod’’ – to nanoscale devices and advanced manufacturing techniques.

We’d like to invite you to take a tour shortly, but just a couple of other highlights.

In the Flinders’ Medical Device Research Institute – led by director Professor Karen Reynolds – researchers are using a $1m robot to study human joint movements. It precisely simulates walking, bending, twisting and lifting to within fractions of a millimetre, allowing our researchers to determine the forces placed on joints from repeated movements or actions. This will enable the design and manufacture of more efficient, longer-lasting joint replacements for what is predicted to be a $16bn global market.

On level 2 of Flinders at Tonsley can be found the iconic South Australian technology and communications company Hills, whose Hills Innovation Centre offers investment, business assistance and Advanced Manufacturing support to new start-ups.

At Flinders University, we have created the platform upon which the next generation of innovators can thrive.

That’s what Smart States do – Smart States innovate.

And they pool their collective power – like we’re all doing here at Tonsley – for the greater good.

All of this comes at an important time in Flinders University’s history as we approach our 50th anniversary in 2016. Flinders is the fastest growing university in South Australia and as we look to the future, our vision is to build on our excellent research strengths to deliver innovative solutions to real-world problems that impact on real peoples’ lives. To build on our superb teaching programmes so that our graduates leave with the skills needed not just for their first job, but prepared for their careers and for a lifetime of contributing to society. Finally, I want Flinders to be the University whose door is open for business, interfacing with new and emergent companies so that our expertise can help grow SA businesses. In that vein, it should be noted that our New Venture Institute has already helped create over 50 new business start-ups and plans to grow even more through our activities here at Tonsley.

Deputy Premier, we applaud your government’s commitment and share your vision for Tonsley as a collaboration between business, education, research and development.

As we stand here at the site of the former Mitsubishi Motors assembly line – we should all be proud of our part in its ongoing transition – from traditional manufacturing towards high-value advanced manufacturing and enterprise.

In closing, Flinders’ investment in the redevelopment of Tonsley confirms our commitment to teaching and research of the highest order and to strong and effective collaborations with business.

Taken together, this ambition will see Flinders contribute the skills and experience to underpin job creation and a community engagement that ranges from inspiring students in schools to supporting commercial ventures.

In doing so, Flinders will redefine the traditional role of the higher education provider in a way that binds us into the future economic and social fabric of southern Adelaide and beyond.

Thank you.”

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