Unis unite to pal up with industry

Australia’s economic growth is under threat but we can remain competitive with the help of strong and collaborative university-industry connections.

To help achieve this, Flinders is teaming with the University of South Australia, the University of Adelaide and other partners to deliver the inaugural Asia-Pacific University Industry Innovation Network (UIIN) conference in Adelaide this week.

The UIIN conference, entitled From Best Practice to Next Practice – Asia-Pacific Opportunities and Perspectives, brings together global experts focused on driving university-industry engagement, innovation and entrepreneurship that addresses and solves real world issues, supports the transformation of industries, and drives economic growth.

International keynote speakers include Dr Helmut Wenisch, Siemens Head of Corporate Technology, Japan, Lumoptix President Dr Robert Lieberman, AsiaEngage founder Professor Saran Kaur Gill, Trajan Scientific and Medical CEO Stephen Tomisich,  SA’s Chief Scientist Dr Leanne Read and B/HERT Executive Director Sharon Winocur.

Professor Phyllis Tharenou, the Executive Dean of Social and Behavioural Sciences at Flinders, says the conference will provide access to global thought-leadership and best practice and help initiate new networks and collaborations for further collaborations and R&D in South Australia.

“Flinders University has a long history of engagement, collaboration and innovation with industry, including at its new state-of-the-art facilities at the Tonsley innovation precinct in Adelaide,” Professor Tharenou says.

With support from The Fox School of Business in the US, Flinders New Venture Institute is rolling out a new program for Innovation and Enterprise education this year, adding new avenues for the business community to engage with the Flinders New Venture Institute and other research groups at the University.

Matt Salier, director of the Flinders New Venture Institute, says working models for university-industry collaborations are vital for the transformation of Australia’s economy.

“Along with large, collaborative research grants and technology commercialisation, it is critical that South Australia’s small-medium enterprise economy has multiple channels to build deep relationships and innovative partnerships with our universities,” Mr Salier says.

“This is why Flinders’ new Innovation and Enterprise program aims to develop future business leaders, researchers and academics who have the mindsets, knowledge and enterprising orientation to seek opportunities and collaborate across boundaries – including with student projects, internships and placements, PhD sponsorships and consulting and advisory projects.”

“By hosting the inaugural UIIN Asia-Pacific conference here in Adelaide, we are reflecting the increasing contribution university-industry collaboration is playing in driving socio-economic advancement in our State and signalling the ability of our three universities to act as thought-leaders in the wider region.”

Mr Salier and Anthony Francis, the director of the University’s commercialisation arm Flinders Partners, will join other Flinders presenters at the conference including Associate Professor Sandy Walker, Dr Carol Aldous and Flinders NVI director Kathryn Anderson.

UniSA Deputy Vice Chancellor and Vice President of Research and Innovation Professor Tanya Monro is delighted South Australia’s three universities are working collaboratively to bring university managers, researchers, policymakers, and innovation and entrepreneurship managers from all across the world to share their knowledge about collaboration between universities and business in Adelaide.

“Global economic uncertainties are forcing a renewed emphasis on the critical role of innovation and productive partnerships in underpinning thriving, resilient economies,” Professor Monro says.

“The University of South Australia is committed to solving complex, real-world problems through close collaboration with government, industry, commerce, the professions and other community groups.”

The University of Adelaide’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (Entrepreneurship), Professor Noel Lindsay, says one of the key issues to emerge from the conference will be its focus on helping universities and the State to become truly entrepreneurial.

“Collaboration with industry in itself is not new but the environment has shifted greatly in the 21st century. Now more than ever, there’s a real opportunity for universities and industry to better understand and build on each other’s strengths, enabling each sector to tap into new opportunities,” Prof Lindsay says.

Professor Lindsay, who is also Director of the University’s highly successful Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Innovation Centre (ECIC), says the state’s universities have a key role to play in generating the right “ecosystem” for innovation.

“At the conference, we will help university leaders and business to better understand what it means to be innovative and entrepreneurial in their thinking, to respond nimbly to opportunities and challenges while also being backed by a world-class knowledge base, which is one of the greatest strengths of any research-focused university,” he says.

The University Industry Innovation Network (UIIN) includes academics, practitioners and business professionals passionate about advancing university-industry interaction, entrepreneurial universities and collaborative innovation.

UIIN has members in more than 25 countries from higher education institution managers to technology-transfer officers, researchers and business professionals and policy makers.

Asia-Pacific University-Industry Engagement Conference workshops are being held across Adelaide from February 15-17.

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