Integrated Technology Research Platforms: Delivering Quality Outcomes for Academic and Industry Researchers

22nd June 2016
Ian Smith Pic for Bio
Written by Professor Ian Smith, Monash University
Vice-Provost (Research and Research Infrastructure),

A number of universities across the globe are recognising the value of Investment in world-class research infrastructure in the form of technology research platforms (TRP’s). These investments are helping to take research and industry collaborations to a new level and also helps create local ecosystems that enable breakthrough research outcomes. Easy access to cutting-edge research infrastructure and supporting expertise helps remove barriers to excellence in research and encourages collaboration. To be successful, the TRP’s need to have dedicated management, governance and oversight, meaning they are focussed on the delivery of high quality services, can make decisions quickly and can create solutions for academic and industry researchers. Accreditation from the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO) can also differentiate the university’s research platforms.

Recognising that innovation hubs across the US, Europe and increasingly in Asia are often built around open access technology platforms or capabilities. This approach has become a differentiating feature of many local research environments. For example, Monash University has created a fully integrated, professionally managed, state-of-the-art research infrastructure network of TRP’s, which has now become a key pillar of the university’s research strategy and dovetails into other capabilities in the local Clayton ecosystem, such as the Australian Synchrotron, the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication (MCN), the Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP) and all the capabilities that CSIRO offers. The ISO accreditation of many of these TRP’s gives industry great confidence and sets the precinct apart in terms of supporting and enabling research and industry engagement. In this context, the platform strategy is proving to be a vital conduit between university researchers, research collaborators and industry. Leading researchers are attracted to the platforms because of their proven quality, networks and focus. Industry is attracted because it can access an accredited, one-stop technology shop and a seamless, uniform research service across the precinct. Operating each platform as a separate branded business unit is vital for quality and focus, though integration across the platforms, means they can offer technology pipelines. Access to this high quality network of TRP’s is being seen as a game-changer for how universities can collaborate with industry. Commercial partners now have a central point to initiate collaboration in any particular area and the university now has the capacity to deliver a high-quality, timely and responsive service.

In conclusion, today’s big questions do require, big and often complex answers, and these answers are increasingly coming from cross-disciplinary and collaborative (often cross institutional) approaches. Open access TRP’s can bring together leading researchers from different fields across a university and from the national and global academic and commercial sectors. It’s these types of collaborative approaches, underpinned by easy access to high end TRP’s, operating at worlds best practice, that lead to breakthrough innovations, solving of complex problems, and thus creating impact and real value for the community.

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