ATN Industry Innovation and Collaboration Forums - Final report

The Australian Technology Network (ATN) of universities, with support from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, organised four Industry Innovation and Collaboration Forums in the industry domains of: Financial Services; Food and Agribusiness; Advanced Manufacturing; and Mining Equipment, Technology and Services, with the aim of identifying key barriers to university-industry cooperation, as well as areas where cooperation has the potential to deliver major benefits to industry. Outcomes of the forums are available in the ATN Industry Innovation and Collaboration Forums - Final report:

Key findings

The key findings emerging from the forums were:

  1. There is often a mismatch between the kinds of problems that industry believes universities can solve for them, and what is appropriate for collaborative work involving a university partner; and companies do not necessarily view Australian universities as the likely or principle source of their research solutions.
  2. The university sector should offer industry simple, clear and accessible guidance on options for collaboration, with identifiable risk, cost and duration parameters; and clear information as to how to move from light-touch engagement to deeper and more resource-intensive collaboration. Additionally, both sides need to better recognise that it can take significant time and effort from all parties to build a relationship that is of suitable maturity to underpin success for more involved research collaborations.
  3. Poor collaboration to date between research organisations and industry is in part due to Australia’s industry structure, dominated by micro firms and SMEs. Solutions to tackle enhanced collaboration will need to be fit for purpose in the Australian context.
  4. Access to robust intelligence and supportive policy and regulatory regimes is key to de-risking investment in industry/university collaborative research.

Success in collaboration comes down to individuals. Much more needs to be done to capitalise on the resource that engaged students and skilled graduates can bring to industry, especially micro firms and SMEs; and Australia needs more people who can genuinely work as connectors between industry and the research sector.

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