Innovation at Macquarie University has been gathering pace over the past 18 months, following the establishment of the Research, Innovation and Enterprise portfolio, as Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research, Innovation and Enterprise) Professor Dan Johnson explains.
Australia’s shifting research funding landscape has spurred universities to adapt and innovate, seeking out new opportunities for investment and collaboration. Macquarie has been a genuine leader in this arena, with the creation of industry academic roles and our unique open ecosystem approach to incubation among the examples of the University’s progressive approach.
Macquarie’s amalgamation of a broad range of allied functions under Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) has been pivotal to the University’s efforts to become seamlessly engaged with the outside world and responsive to the needs of those we serve. By integrating often-disconnected functions, we have bought an end-to-end perspective to the needs of both our external partners and to the Macquarie staff that drive our research and educational innovation.
RIE unites the many functions within the University’s structure that are essential to effective partnerships. It encompasses corporate engagement, focused on listening to industry’s challenges and objectives and designing whole-of-university solutions to meet them; multifaceted partnerships with industry, which are core to research and education; intellectual property management and translation; and incubation, which supports companies created by the University, its researchers and incubation program participants, as well as within the broader community.
We created Research, Innovation and Enterprise as a best-practice solution to the barriers industry often faces when trying to partner with universities to access research for innovation. RIE makes it easy for industry and government to collaborate and do business with Macquarie. And, on a larger scale, RIE supports different forms of entrepreneurship and economy-building activities – including business success and employment – while amplifying the impact of Macquarie University research.
The passionate RIE team is already seeing the fruits of its efforts in creating a seamless framework for making applied research and intellectual property readily available to industry. We are working back from real problems to realise innovative solutions and propel them rapidly to market, as demonstrated by the launch of two cutting-edge companies in the synthetic biology area: HydGene Renewables, which has created a system that uses bacterial or yeast microorganisms to convert agricultural waste into hydrogen for power; and Number 8 Bio, which is focused on an active component of seaweed that reduces methane emissions produced by cattle. There’s also Celosia Therapeutics, a Macquarie-backed company developing revolutionary gene therapies to treat – and hopefully cure – neurodegenerative diseases including motor neuron disease and dementia.
We want to shine a spotlight on case studies where industry and universities are working well together – the companies that have been created, the IP that’s being licensed, and then used, to create impact. These case studies provide clear exemplars for researchers and industry on what might be possible for them. By lifting the profile of research innovation and enterprise, not just at Macquarie, but nationwide, we make it easier to do and easier to understand, which will make innovation business as usual for Australia.