Business innovation challenge sparks new collaboration

9 October 2020

CSIRO, Western Sydney University and Macquarie University are uniting to deliver the Innovation Districts C19 R&D Challenges (IDC), designed to accelerate businesses working for a better future post-COVID-19.

The IDC project is a $3 million investment by the NSW Government in the state’s innovation ecosystem to fast-track products and services that address pandemic-induced challenges in our working and personal lives.

Technologies that support remote business operations, working from home, remote communications, remote sensing and monitoring, cybersecurity and the Internet of Things, as well as remote health and medical solutions supporting telehealth, mental health and resilience, all stand to benefit from the initiative.

The three organisations will create an ‘innovation arc’ that stretches across Sydney, from the Northern Beaches, North Shore and North-Western Sydney to Parramatta, Penrith, Camden, Campbelltown and Liverpool. After considering submissions across the combined districts, nine outstanding businesses will compete in the first challenge round with a state-wide pool of 36, each hoping for a share in the $500,000 funding allocation.

“We know when businesses innovate, they grow and create more resilient jobs,” says Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney, Stuart Ayres.

“NSW is home to world-leading research and innovation, which is why we are helping to connect our best and brightest to address the big challenges we’re facing.”

Dr Marcus Zipper, Director of CSIRO Manufacturing explains the role that CSIRO will play in this challenge:“As Australia’s National Science Agency, CSIRO is committed to supporting local SMEs.“This Innovation District R&D Challenge will support the development of medical technologies and business innovations during a time when COVID-19 is deeply affecting Australians’ mental and physical health, and the way we work is changing dramatically,” Dr Zipper says.

Macquarie University Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Engagement) Professor David Wilkinson says collaborating in this way for the first time will harness the strengths of each of the three organisations and their networks.

“Each innovation district has unique capabilities and industry profiles,” says Professor Wilkinson.

“The Macquarie Park Innovation District, which includes Macquarie University and CSIRO, is a fertile ground for high-growth innovation and entrepreneurship – in fact, it’s the most innovative postcode in Australia, with the highest number of IP registrations.”

“This collaboration with Western Sydney University allows us to build on our strengths as a district, foster wider engagement across the entire North-Western belt and pool our resources to identify more opportunities for businesses and researchers to collaborate to turn ideas into tangible solutions. This would not be possible if we were to approach these challenges separately, just working within our own innovation districts and networks.”

Western Sydney University Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Research, Enterprise and International) Professor Deborah Sweeney notes:

“The opportunity to collaborate with CSIRO and Macquarie University in delivering this Innovation Challenge opens up a wide range of possibilities to develop new high-tech solutions to meet the challenges we currently face as a society and an economy through COVID-19.”

Supported by CSIRO and 11 universities, challenges will be undertaken over the next 12 months in each of the twelve innovation district regions across NSW.

Businesses can express their interest via the Launch Pad website

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