In a celebration and showcase of outstanding high-impact business-university collaborations, the annual Business Higher Education Round Table (BHERT) Awards were presented at a gala dinner at the Park Hyatt Melbourne on November 21.
Award winners come from business-university collaborations across Australia – one from WA, two from Queensland, three from NSW, one from ACT, and one from Victoria – and encompass enterprises in research and development, higher education and training, community engagement, and in the national (non-economic) benefit.
“Business-university collaboration is going from strength to strength in Australia,” said BHERT CEO Dr Peter Binks.
“Taken together, our award winners demonstrate the very best of that effort.
“Innovation, strong relationships between partners, the delivery of extraordinary value and new opportunities are factors they all have in common – and those attributes are something we are seeing more and more as researchers and business people combine their expertise and talents,” he added.
The national awards were established by BHERT in 1998. The two principal criteria for judging award winners are that they are highly innovative, and are based on the foundation of a strong relationship between partners.
The 2017 BHERT Award winners
Outstanding Collaboration in Research and Development
Awarded to: The University of Western Australia and Chevron Australia Pty Ltd
Project: Chevron – University Partnership Programme
Chevron-UWA supports one of our major export industries (LNG), in which Australia is becoming the largest global player. This is a 15-year partnership worth more than $22 million, with new R&D and world-leading products. It also features contributions by Chevron to science education and culture in WA.
Outstanding Collaboration in Higher Education and Training
Awarded to: The University of Queensland, Smart Sparrow, UNSW Sydney, The University of Melbourne and James Cook University
Project: The Biomedical Education, Skills and Training (BEST) Network
BEST Network has extraordinary impact in biomedical higher education across Australia, with a community of 12 member institutions, 2,200 academics, and 8,700 student members. It consists of a technology-supported teaching infrastructure for biomedical learning, and provides open access to many of its resources for its 10,939 members from 45 countries, as well as to the broader biomedical community. In doing so, BEST Network assists developing nations by enabling access to pedagogy and resources developed by academics at some of Australia’s top institutions.
Outstanding Collaboration in Community Engagement
Awarded to: The University of Queensland, AgriFutures Australia, Australian Native Food and Botanicals, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Australian Prawn Farmers Association, Karen Sheldon Catering Pty Ltd, The Australian Industry Group, Kindred Spirits Association, Charles Darwin University, Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation and Mamabulanjin Aboriginal Corporation
Project: Plum pickings: transforming the native food industry; empowering Aboriginal Communities
The Kakadu Plum project was launched in 2010, and is a major initiative between two Australian universities and the aquaculture industry, transforming the native food industry, and empowering Aboriginal Communities in the process. Its value derives from the unique properties of the Kakadu Plum. The Kakadu Plum as a functional ingredient is now used by 75 per cent of the Queensland aquaculture industry, as a natural preservative which significantly extends the retail shelf life of prawns. Importantly, this project has critical contributions from Indigenous communities.
Outstanding Collaboration for National (Non-Economic) Benefit
Awarded to: Macquarie University, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Taronga Zoo, Western Sydney University, Royal Botanical Gardens and Domain Trust, James Cook University, University of New Brunswick (Canada), University of Canberra, Imperial College London and CSIRO
Project: The Biodiversity Node of the NSW Adaptation Research Hub
The Biodiversity Node of the NSW Research Hub leverages the State’s multidisciplinary science capacities to produce research that directly informs the decision making of NSW agencies. It has been very successful to date in developing actionable recommendations for environmental management in NSW addressing species range, weed management, and disease surveillance.
The awards send a clear message about BHERT’s focus
Dr Binks said the choice of winners reflected national priorities: the export economy (LNG and agriculture); biomedical education; biodiversity; Indigenous engagement and employment.
The spread of winners – from WA, Queensland, NSW, the ACT, and Victoria – demonstrated BHERT’s national mandate.
“True collaboration is long and deep,” he said. “None of the partnerships celebrated is less than five years old; each has multiple facets, and a large group of contributing partners from all sectors and multiple locations.”
He said the partnerships celebrated “impact, not funds capture; industry or community uptake, not prizes or publications”.
BHERT was established in 1990 to strengthen the relationship between business, industry and the higher education sector. It is the only national organisation with members who are leaders in higher education, business, industry and professional associations.
BHERT has addressed many key industry-university topics, such as cybersecurity, workforce development strategy, technology management and commercialisation, and innovation precincts. Through its initiatives, the organisation takes a leadership position on behalf of its members in working with stakeholders including governments, and supporting key relationships across the public and private sectors.