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The University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Sally Walker has joined with Dr Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, head of Biocon, India’s largest biotechnology company to sign a Memorandum of Understanding that will bring the two institutions together to work on a number of projects.
These include innovative plans to establish a mammalian cell bio-processing facility at the Geelong Technology Precinct (GTP) which is on Deakin University’s Geelong Campus at Waurn Pounds in Victoria. In India, the partnership will facilitate the establishment of a Deakin Research Institute in Bangalore. This will also involve collaborative research with Biocon.
The Institute will have a focus on discovery and applied science in research areas including drug development, biotechnology, new materials and intelligent systems.
An important part of the Indian Institute’s work will be research training in India to meet the demands of one of the world’s fastest growing economies.
The benefits for young Australian scientists will be greater exposure to working with and meeting the needs of industry, something at which Deakin is already among the leading universities in the country.
The Institute’s facilities will include space for ‘proof of concept’ work based on the successful Deakin University approach to science and technology at the GTP.
“This is a significant move for Deakin University, providing first class links with a leading international company in key areas of research interest including biotechnology, metabolic disease research and wine science,” said Professor Walker.
“Deakin is proud of the great opportunities for development both in Victoria and in India to which this MOU will lead, including the Deakin Research Institute in India. We are pleased to work in partnership with our Indian colleagues.
“In Victoria, it provides a huge step towards the achievement of our vision for the growth of the GTP, both through a state of the art biotechnology facility, and the expansion of the University’s research program in areas which will have a positive impact on our communities.
“Over the last 15 years Deakin has developed a unique approach to research which concentrates on allowing partner industry organisations to drive fundamental research further along the value-adding chain than is normally the case in university-based research.
“The signing of this MOU provides international recognition for the approach we have adopted.”
Deakin University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor David Stokes said the initiative would not have been possible without the enormous support of the Victorian Government.
”Deakin would like to thank the Victorian Government and Invest Victoria for the role they have played and for their support for the project,” he said.
“In particular, we thank Mr Wayne Lewis, Victoria’s Commissioner to India, who has provided extraordinary support for this project.”
The Victorian Minister for Innovation, John Brumby, also welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding.
“Victoria has set a target of becoming one of the top five biotechnology locations by 2010 and can already claim top five leadership in a number of areas including stem cells, diabetes, malaria and reproductive medicines,” he said.
“The collaboration between Biocon and Deakin University creates an opportunity to secure major investment in provincial Victoria as well as future opportunities with India.”
Biocon, founded in 1978, is India’s largest biotech company. It is an integrated biopharmaceutical company employing more than 2000 scientists and researchers in the parent company and subsidiaries. It specialises in biopharmaceuticals, early stage drug discovery, clinical development and research, and enzymes. Thirty percent of company employees are women; and the average age of employees is 28.
Dr Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw has an affinity with Australia, having completed her PhD here.
“She has also been quick to recognise the merit of the way we do research at Deakin,” Professor Walker said.
“Again it is very pleasing to have this recognition that Deakin’s researchers are at the forefront of research, not just nationally, but internationally.”