Academia and industry gather for dynamic veski conversation

25 February
veski family members join representatives of academia and industry for first veski conversation for 2013
veski family members join representatives of academia and industry for first veski conversation for 2013

The first veski conversation for 2013 brought leaders from academia, government and industry together with the veski family for a robust and wide-ranging discussion about improving partnerships between academia and industry. 

Special guest Ms Leonie Walsh, President of the Australasian Industrial Research Group (AIRG), began the discussion by outlining the AIRG’s work in recent months, which has included high-level briefings for industry, academia and government.

Her attendance at the veski conversation followed AIRG’s annual summer meeting, which was focused on Grand Technology Challenges: Australasian Industry's Future Place in the World.

The topics canvassed on the night were wide ranging and lent themselves to a spirited conversation with a variety of opinions being shared across the table. The topics and opinions included: 

  • Lessons Australia can learn from countries such as the UK where they have more partnerships between industry and academia
  • Challenges limiting partnerships between industry and academia include businesses often not having the information provided to them about what is happening in academia
  • The industry representatives at the table said there is often no one to translate the information into business language, which creates a need for a middle man
  • The American hubs and precincts, which bring science and industry together, work very well in supporting collaboration between industry and academia
  • There are limitations in the economies of scale and the willingness to invest in Australia
  • While we have some good examples of academia and industry working together, such as IBM and the University of Melbourne's partnership, we need universities to do more to create those linkages and support these partnerships
  • Many scientists are purely academics and don’t have the drive to commercialise their research and they need support so they can get back to discovering the ‘next big thing’
  • On the other hand, there are many academics who would like to set up their own businesses but need to develop their commercial skills
  • The increased number of business development managers in research organisations is helping
  • There is money to invest but most of it is going overseas because the investors and venture capitalists don’t know how and where to invest in Australia
  • Small industries need to do more to partner with academia but the challenge is they don’t know how to do it and governments need to help them

The event coincided with the announcement of the Federal Government’s innovation statement, which was also a topic of discussion on the night. It also followed the RMIT Business Breakfast with Nick Leeder from Google.

veski conversations provide much needed support and networking opportunities for veski innovation fellows returning to Australia. 

Fellows in attendance included Professor Michael Cowley, Dr Matthew Call and Associate Professor Tiffany Walsh along with inaugural fellow Professor Andrew Holmes. 

The veski conversation also provided an opportunity for members of the Department of Business and Innovation to hear about our fellows plans for 2013 and to provide an update on innovation in Victoria. 

The conversation continued on Thursday, 28 March with a webinar with Business Spectator editor Jackson Hewitt, Julia Page and Michael Cowley.

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