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Deakin's newly created Institute for Technology Research and Innovation will take the university's research activities to an exciting new level, said Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor David Stokes. "This new Institute will be the home for our strong portfolio of discovery and applied research in advanced manufacturing that includes work in new materials, composites, nanotechnology, biotechnology and intelligent systems," Professor Stokes said.
"It will also play a huge role in attracting more world-class researchers to Deakin, as well as expanding the partnerships the university has been so successful in developing with industry.
"Already there are more than 40 partnerships between industry and research in place at the Geelong Technology Precinct on our campus at Waurn Ponds," Professor Stokes said.
"We expect that number to grow considerably once ITRI is fully up and running researchers and industry practitioners working together to solve real world problems.
"Certainly that's what so much of Deakin's research is about, finding solutions that will have a positive impact on the lives of people not just in Victoria or Australia, but all over the world.
"The fact that Ford chose Deakin as the only Australian university to take part in its Global Challenge to design a Model T for the 21st Century is further confirmation of that.
"I don't think it is giving too much away to say the new design our researchers will put forward will be for a post-petroleum era vehicle. That is indeed an exciting concept as the world tries to come to grips with global warming."
The announcement that the Indian IT company, Satyam, would be setting up on the GTP was another early sign of the sort of growth that can be expected, as was the Victorian Government's decision to help finance a "proof of concept" facility at Waurn Ponds.
The Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds sits on a 360-hectare site, so even with these developments, space won't be an issue for a long time.
"Other universities in the capital cities would love to have the advantages we do at ITRI the capacity to do excellent science right up to proof of concept stage in partnership with industry, the room to grow, and the wonderful lifestyle that goes with living in a regional centre so close to the Great Ocean Road," said Professor Stokes.
"We believe that our research at Deakin is world-class, and there are many ways of measuring that, both formal and informal.
"One of the best informal ones is that, as we expand, we are attracting more interest in the Institute from researchers from all over the world. We now have research students from over 16 countries working at the GTP.
"In Europe, where you have so many countries together, that would not be exceptional but in a regional city in the far-off southern hemisphere, that is a pretty fair sign that people not only know about what we're doing at Deakin in research, but they want to be part of it."
Professor Stokes said the innovative nature of Deakin's collaborative approach was also recognised in March when Senator Kim Carr announced at the annual dinner of the Geelong Manufacturing Council that the Innovative Regions Innovation Centre for Australia would be located at the GTP.
Universities in regional economies have a key role to play," Professor Stokes said. "They are not commercial enterprises in the sense that Small to Medium Enteprises (SMEs) and large companies are commercial enterprises, but there is a real opportunity for industry and universities to work together in partnership, each benefiting from the other in areas of their core business."
For more information on ITRI: www.deakin.edu.au/research/itri/