Trans-Pacific cooperation has received a significant boost, with Dimension Data announcing via press release an agreement they’ve inked with Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT), Western Sydney University (WSU) and Deakin University.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the parties will, according to the release, “focus on solving social challenges that are common between Australia and Japan.”
Australia has of late been bolstering its governmental ties with Japan on matters of economics and security, and this initiative is a clear understanding that industry and universities are following suit. “This joint-vision partnership is the first time NTT has entered into an agreement of this nature with research institutions outside of Japan.”
Of particular concern is the strengthening of the “innovation ecosystem” and improved outcomes in areas vital to both societies – healthcare being of especial interest since both countries have ageing populations.
The MOU apparently was inspired by the Japanese Government’s ‘Society 5.0’ initiative, a bold plan undertaken by Japan’s Abe Government to transform and rejuvenate a once-stagnant economy.
As the Japanese Government puts it:
“Society 5.0 is Japan’s vision for the next step in human evolution after hunter-gatherer, agrarian, industrial and information society stages. It will enhance industrial competitiveness and help with the establishment of a society more attuned to individual needs. The focus is on the vast potential of accumulating data, and new technologies of the fourth industrial revolution, in order to find solutions to social issues such as the declining birth rate, an ageing population, and environmental and energy issues.”
According to Dimension Data: “This partnership provides a framework for Australia and Japan to drive the creation and commercialisation of technologies and solutions to address real-world issues such as the needs of the disabled and those of an ageing population.”
The partnership isn’t all talk, though. There are real plans in the works that are ready to kick off in the short term.
“In order to realise this vision, several joint research projects will be established and will commence in the next 12 months. These projects include research and development into communication between dementia patients, their family and other caregivers; as well as research and development on smart homes to ensure a safe and secure life for the elderly and the disabled.”
The move is a welcome step in the right direction for Australia, which according to the Global Innovation Index, lags behind other comparable countries. According to the Index, in terms of innovation efficiency (how many outputs we get for our inputs), Australia ranks 76, compared with Switzerland (1), Germany (9), United Kingdom (21), and United States (22).
Steve Nola, CEO of Dimension Data Australia, noted:
“The missing piece of Australia’s innovation puzzle is often identified as the strategic collaboration between universities and the business community. This MOU is a significant step towards preserving Australia’s economic future. The collaboration between business and academia drives knowledge exchange and innovation, and that innovation is what underpins economic and societal growth. This co-innovation partnership deepens our relationship with two of Australia’s leading universities and enables us to commercialise cutting-edge solutions which will help Australian businesses solve fundamental problems and create new value for years to come.”
Professor Julie Owens, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research at Deakin University, also stressed the importance of the corporate-social approach:
“Our strong engagement with one of the world’s most significant technology companies gives confidence that we can open up new technologies to change how aged care is delivered in Australia and Japan and have a genuine impact on the communities we serve.”
Research projects will be proposed and assessed through a proof-of-concept model in Australia. “Viable projects will draw upon Dimension Data’s commercial experience and leverage this co-innovation partnership to take these ideas to a global market.”