Curtin University based in Perth was named the first of four Australian Trailblazer universities, receiving $50 million in federal funding from the new competitive program to develop a research commercialization center for resource technology and critical minerals.
Announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on his second day of campaigning in Western Australia on Tuesday, the new hub will receive additional funding from academic and industry partners to bring the total value of contributions to more than $200 million.
Curtin University has partnered with the University of Queensland and James Cook University, as well as 33 partner companies across Australia involved in value chains that require lithium, nickel, cobalt resources , vanadium and hydrogen.
University leaders said the new center will lead to greater industry input into research outputs, a cultural shift to improve translation rates, and increased support for staff and students to start their own businesses. .
The $242.7 million Trailblazer Universities program was announced by the Morrison government in November as part of a campaign to improve the commercialization rates of Australian research. The program offered up to $50 million each over four years to four universities through a competitive process.
In a quick turnaround, 21 universities expressed interest in their plan to foster increased collaboration with the business community in research areas within the Coalition’s six manufacturing priorities.
A shortlist of eight was revealed in January, with those universities then submitting a detailed proposal for direct hub funding and an additional $8 million in specialist support from CSIRO.
Curtin University was announced as the first Trailblazer university on Tuesday by the Prime Minister during an election campaign visit to Western Australia where he spoke about mining jobs.
“It is no coincidence that we are announcing the first Trailblazer program in Western Australia, designed to push boundaries, drive collaboration between universities and industry and challenge intellectual property agreements that limit the dividend for our smart and savvy young researchers,” he said. said in a statement.
The University of Western Australia has existing industry partnerships with the mining and resources sector, including an alliance with the multinational BHP which contributes to several cooperative research centers run by Curtin.
Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne said in the university’s own statement that the new Trailblazer hub will drive a cultural shift to improve resource technology commercialization rates and create more opportunities. for academic staff and researchers to start their own business.
“Together with the University of Queensland and James Cook University, we will use Trailblazer to bring about profound and lasting change in the way technology readiness, commercialization and industry-led research are prioritized, taught and rewarded in our universities,” Professor Hayne said.
Curtin’s deputy vice-chancellor for research, Professor Chris Moran, said the university would start by listening to industry requests to guide research results.
“The mission of the collaboration is to conduct and translate the research needed to link the value chains so desperately needed if Australia is to become a true international leader in the efficient production of critical minerals, precursors and ultimately metals. “, Professor Moran said.
“In doing so, Trailblazer will add significant value, resilience and sovereign capability across Australia’s critical minerals and hydrogen energy value chains. It will provide the skills and future workforce needed to realize the potential benefits of our resources.
Professor Moran was also appointed chair of a new advisory board for the Australian Research Council this month, to guide a new government research translation goal for the agency.
The other three Trailblazer universities are expected to be announced during the election campaign. An additional $119 million was allocated in last month’s budget to two more Trailblazer universities through the government’s Regional Accelerator Program, which extends existing programs to regional applicants with dedicated funding.
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