Universities, tech giants form "digital innovation" network

Universities, tech giants form "digital innovation" network

La Trobe University and Curtin University have joined forces with tech giant Cisco and telco leader Optus to form a new alliance, which aims to support Australia’s economic resilience and transformation with the use of digital technologies.

The newly established National Industry Innovation Network (NIIN) is also expected to pave the way for further collaboration between industry leaders and higher education institutions in addressing digital challenges and responding to long-term national interests.

The network builds on the tech firms’ and the two universities previous partnerships, which included investments in research projects covering cybersecurity, artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT) and software-defined networks.

The founding members said the establishment of the NIIN allowed them to combine resources, including research chairs, innovation centres, supply chains, partner networks, and expertise in digital technologies.

They added that network will “act as both a clearing house for immediate industry challenges and a driver for economic stimulus, resilience, and recovery through digital transformation.”

Among NIIN’s first projects will be a white paper on the role of collaborative technology in remote working, with a focus on government, health, and education sectors.

Ken Boal, Cisco Australia & New Zealand Vice-President, said the aim of the network is to make Australia and its industries “more adaptive and resilient”, and the white paper will evaluate the application of digital technologies towards this goal.

“We can take the learnings out of the recent surge in the adoption of collaboration technologies that have enabled remote working, and build on the capability and productivity that’s been realised, to support a more resilient digital economy and society,” Boal said.

Meanwhile, Chris Mitchell, Optus Business Managing Director, stressed the importance of the partnership in helping inform different sectors on how to deal with critical digital issues.

“Australia faces immense health and economic challenges and no single company or university has all the answers,” he said.

“In combining our technology, expertise, and networks, we can create a greater impact together.”

Professor John Dewar AO, La Trobe Vice-Chancellor, said the collaboration was a vital step in “supporting innovation and job-creating economic activity.”

“I welcome this new alliance as an important development in bringing industry and universities to work together to support economic recovery and digital transformation,” he said.

“This is an exciting new development with the potential to change the way we think about collaborations between universities and industry for the benefit of the nation.”

Professor Deborah Terry AO, Curtin Vice-Chancellor emphasised the significance of universities and the industry working together.

“We have demonstrated that sharing our resources and expertise brings great value to our communities and our economy”.