ARC grants build strong linkages with industry and community

Innovative approaches to propel the economy – and build healthy, happy solutions for older Australians – will be investigated in two new research projects at Flinders University.

The two Australian Government Australian Research Council Linkage projects, involving more than $1.4 million in funding from the ARC and Linkage partners over the next three years, will make important progress in promoting visionary systems for advanced manufacturing in South Australia and new ideas for older adults to flourish and benefit from community engagement.

“Loneliness and social isolation are major problems in our community,” says Dr Tim Windsor, who leads the Centre for Ageing Studies at Flinders University.

“Our research is seeking to evaluate and build on the important role that activities for older adults (over 65 years) play in promoting social engagement, a sense of purpose and better quality of life for this growing part of our population” says Dr Windsor, Director of the Flinders Centre for Ageing Studies and Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the College of Education, Psychology & Social Work.

“We’ll also look at what it is about existing programs that people value most and how they can be developed further to promote engagement across the community.”

The project, conducted in partnership with ECH services for aged care, the City of Onkaparinga and the SA Health Office for the Ageing, is expected to generate a new knowledge base to effectively promote engagement and develop programs that aligns with individuals’ strengths, capabilities and values – both for community organisations and aged-care service providers looking to promote healthy ageing.

Volunteers at the Wakefield House community garden at Morphett Vale. Photo courtesy City of Onkaparinga.

Meanwhile, Australian manufacturing is set to get a boost from a new research program designed to accelerate industrial diversification.

Industry and product diversification is vital to the growth of export oriented manufacturing in Australia, says Professor John Spoehr, Director of the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute (AITI) at Flinders at Tonsley.

“Our new ARC Linkage project will develop a decision-support tool that helps companies to make more informed decisions about new products they might consider making.

“It’s based on cutting-edge international research on the importance of building economic complexity through high-value goods and services,” he says.

Professor Spoehr says Flinders will be the first university in Australia to work with companies on practical applications of “economic complexity analysis”.

“This will help to ensure that Australia is at the forefront of growth in advanced manufacturing,” he says. “Importantly it will help to ‘de-risk’ product diversification and open up new avenues for growth.”

The latest AITI research, in partnership with the South Australian Department of State Development and industry, will complement the new Tonsley Manufacturing Innovation Hub where the next-generation ‘Industry 4.0’ cyber-physical factory is available to companies to explore the latest in digital manufacturing technologies.

The Tonsley Innovation District, at the former Mitsubishi plant at Clovelly Park, is developing into one of Australia’s leading innovation precincts.

“The new investments we’re making in the Tonsley district, and the research that Flinders University and other researchers are bringing to bear over the next few years, will ensure that Tonsley is a national and international showcase for how you accelerate the growth of advanced manufacturing,” Professor Spoehr says.

The awarding of two of this round’s 10 Linkage grants to Flinders highlights the real-world importance and impact of the University’s research, says Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Robert Saint.

“Flinders is committed to making a difference and this is reflected in our growing engagement with business, industry, service providers and others here and internationally to provide solutions to long standing problems and emerging challenges,” Professor Saint says.

The latest 10 ARC Linkage grants worth $3.4 million in Australian Government funding were announced by the Minister for Education and Training, Senator Simon Birmingham.  The ARC Chief Executive Officer, Professor Sue Thomas, says these 10 projects will involve cash and in-kind support of a further $6.3 million from 29 partner organisations.

“The ARC’s Linkage Projects scheme is designed to support researchers in our universities in vital collaborations with other parts of the innovation system, including industry partners and community organisations,” Professor Thomas says.


ARC Project LP170100461: Lead chief investigator Dr Tim Windsor with Flinders University Emeritus Professor Mary Luszcz and Dr Ruth Walker, Curtin University’s Dr Trevor Mazzucchelli, University of Oregon’s Associate Professor Robert Stawski and ECH Inc’s Ms Amber Watt

ARC Project LP170100718: Lead chief investigator Professor John Spoehr with Flinders University Associate Professor Giselle Rampersad, Professor David Powers and Dr Rong Zhu, and University of Queensland’s Professor John Quiggin.

Professor John Spoehr, left, and Colin Thomas, operations manager of the TMI Hub, are available for advice on using the cyber-factory at Flinders at Tonsley.
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