While researchers and manufacturers may seem to be worlds apart, the collaboration between the minds and focussed expertise of university academics, with the knowledge and hands-on understanding of manufactures, has the potential for innovation that can benefit businesses and universities.
At times, the barriers between higher-level research and manufacturing processes can seem insurmountable.
Anthony Morfa, business development manager of the NSW Smart Sensing Network (NSSN), puts it simply.“We’re one of four Department of Industry-funded networks in the state that are here to connect the various universities in the state with industry.
We’re trying to bridge the gap between universities and people who are working in industry,” said Morfa.
“Five years ago, there was a major change in direction at WSU, and the management at the time said to the researchers, ‘In addition to submitting competitive grants to support fundamental research, you are encouraged and empowered to go out there and start building research partnerships with organisations and work on applied problems that you can provide research solutions to.
Organisations can be very broad, and could include not for profits, charities, SMEs or large enterprises’.”This was the call from upper levels of university management, and since then, governments have also taken on the role of match-maker between researchers and companies.
Citing one example of a business that had partnered with a university researcher, Marsh highlighted how the business was encouraged to incorporate a digital strategy as part of their business strategy.
It began to look at how workforce development could lead to the business achieving its goals, outlined in its vision and mission statement.
Putting research into practice One industry participant at the event at WSU’s Launchpad was David Fox, general manager of LA Services.
The company designs and fabricates large heat exchangers, pressure vessels, piping skids and gas pipelines.