Australia’s Silicon Valley Reaches Proof of Concept Stage
Deakin University’s ambitious plans to create the Australian version of Silicon Valley, based on design and manufacturing, has moved a step closer with the Victorian State Government committing $6 million to a $13 million expansion of the Geelong Technology Precinct (GTP).
Welcoming the announcement, Deakin University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor David Stokes, said the money would be used to build a Future Design and Manufacturing facility that will incorporate a 3000 square metre Proof of Concept building.
“The innovative Deakin model of co-location with collaboration used in the GTP brings together researchers and industry representatives in the one facility and better enables research to be taken from concept to commercialisation,” Professor Stokes said.
“The Proof of Concept building will assist this process since it will provide additional space for prototyping and pre-commercial work to occur.”
Professor Stokes said the expansion supported Deakin’s ambitious plans to establish a new Institute for Technology Research and Innovation at the GTP, which will bring together Deakin’s strengths in biosciences, advanced materials and intelligent systems. It complements Deakin’s plans to establish a Deakin India Research Institute in Bangalore, India.
“The future of manufacturing lies in the bringing together of these three technologies,” Professor Stokes said.
“The new facility is an important part of Deakin’s plan to make the GTP a stand-out attraction for industry in regional Victoria.
“We want the GTP to continue to be a place which attracts industry to build long term research partnerships with Deakin, and thus enhances their business profitability. The GTP will be an important knowledge pipeline into global markets.”
Professor Stokes said the GTP was already an important economic contributor to the region, injecting $14 million and 241 equivalent full-time jobs into the Geelong economy.
“Knowledge, innovation and research are sources of economic growth regionally, for the state and nationally,” he said. “The GTP is a significant driver for economic development.”
Professor Stokes said the new Future Design and Manufacturing facility would provide a platform for the growth of Deakin’s smart design and nano-manufacturing capability. It would also serve as the site for research activity in areas of national importance such as biotechnology, defence and aerospace.
“The facility will also house laboratories for bio-processing and for intelligent systems research in modelling and simulation, robotics, haptics and systems and signals,” Professor Stokes said.
“It will also enable the establishment of a state of the art metal powders laboratory critical for our research in high performance light metals, including novel bio materials.”
Professor Stokes said Deakin had been approached by a number of local, national and international companies interested in establishing themselves at the GTP. This new facility would allow negotiations to continue.
Vision splendid for Deakin Research
To illustrate his vision for research at Deakin University Professor David Stokes points not to a whiteboard or a power point presentation, but rather to a photo of a case of beautifully preserved butterflies of many shapes and sizes.
“Look, it is a very exciting time to be part of the great growth spurt that research is undergoing at Deakin,” the University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor research smiles.
“We’ve come a long way in the 30 or so years since our university came into existence and particularly over the past 10 years when Deakin has emerged as a significant player in research Australia and overseas. But it is what lies ahead that will make us even more attractive. “
And this is where his butterflies come in.
“What I would like to see, and what the rest of the university wants to see, is a research framework built around three iconic research colleges,” Professor Stokes says.
“One of these would be something like the Frontier Science and Technology Research College, and another would take in Health and Well-being, an area in which we already do so well, particularly on our Burwood Campus in Melbourne.
“The third Research College would encompass the arts, sociology and business and law and be called something like Strengthening Australia Society Research College. This College would be home to the Alfred Deakin Institute, given his great interest in these matters, especially while Prime Minister of Australia.
“Getting the names just right is all part of a fine-tuning program that we are all engaged in at the moment, but the concept of the three major colleges is already well entrenched in everyone’s thinking at Deakin.”
“Within these colleges we could have something like 20-25 research clusters and a few iconic research institutes. Butterflies come in many sizes and shapes, just like these research clusters would, but in the end, they are all butterflies.
“I have been using a few diagrams to illustrate to just what I have in mind, and I use the picture of a collection of butterflies.
“The wonderful thing is when I show the butterflies to our researchers and our administrators, they see the framework and where their fields of work fit into the framework and they are becoming increasingly enthusiastic about being part of this structure.
“So we have this great unity of purpose emerging about where our research should be going.
“It will be multi-disciplinary, we will work across the faculty borders to come up with solutions to problems that industry or the community is facing.
“A very important word in all this is partnerships. We will have partnerships within the university so that engineers can work easily with chemists, or lawyers with nutritionists.
“The problem of obesity can’t be solved within one faculty or one laboratory. It requires good research about what we eat, but as Professor Boyd Swinburn and his colleagues point out, it will also require legislative force, and that’s where the lawyers come in.
Research Services Division:
DEAKIN RESEARCH UPDATES - BACK COPIES
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Paul joins high fliers
Young Deakin researcher Paul Della Gatta gained a lot more than extra frequent flier points when he attended his first overseas conference in Sendai in Japan late last year.
A PhD student in the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, 24-year-old Paul was stunned to hear his name read out as the winner of the best young investigator prize at the 8th International Society of Exercise and Immunology symposium.
“It was my first overseas conference,” Paul said. “I was one of many presenters invited to attend so it was a real surprise to be given this award, but a nice one.”
Paul’s presentation was called: Acute resistance exercise markedly upregulates gene expression of key chemotactic factors in skeletal muscle.
His work has characterised novel factors involved in muscle regeneration that may be altered in older individuals and importantly, can be beneficially modified by exercise training and nutrient ingestion.
This study is part of a major body of work investigating how muscle adapts to exercise, enabling muscle growth and strength gains all being carried out within the School of Exercise and Nutrition Science.
As well as providing Paul with his moment in the sun, this work has resulted in two recent grants:
• Funding through the CSIRO - Flagship Collaboration Fund in the Food Futures Flagship ($100,000), examining a novel biological active extract, identified as a by-product of current food manufacture that could form a new value-added nutraceutical.
• An International grant through Dairy Management Incorporated (DMI) the national agency that representing the US Dairy which awarded our group $170,000 for a project to examine how dairy proteins are also beneficial in stimulating growth and muscular repair following exercise in older individuals.
For further information on the work of the School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences: deakin.edu.au/hmnbs/ens/
Minoo makes her mark!
Deakin University’s early career researchers continue to make their mark on the global scene, the latest Minoo Naebe, who has been selected to attend the Asia Nanotech Camp in Japan in February.
Minoo is one of just two Australian PhD students selected to attend the event, which coincides with a meeting of the world’s leading nanotechnologists.
“I am very excited about this opportunity,” Minoo said before flying off to Japan.
“It is recognition for my work, and also all the other people at Deakin working in nanotechnology.”
Professor Xungai Wang, Minoo’s supervisor and deputy director of the Centre for Material and Fibre Innovation, congratulated his talented young student on her selection.
“Minoo has made a great contribution to our work in nanocomposite fibres since moving to Deakin from Iran in 2005,” he said.
The basic concept of Asia Nanotech Camp 2008 is to provide the emerging generation of nanotechnologists with an opportunity to be at the frontier of this field and equally importantly, to build personal relationships across the Asian nations.
The camp coincides with the world’s largest nanotech event, Nanotech 2008, also being help in Japan.
Minoo had to meet the following selection criteria to be invited to attend the camp:
1. Passion for Nanotechnology
For more information about Minoo
and her work:
The life and times of the giant crab!