They have lift-off

The new Australian Space Agency has a brand strategy

“Today the agency is telling the story of our brand, working with Ogilvy Australia we developed an identity that Australia can be proud of. It’s unique and like no other space agency in the world,” via Twitter, yesterday.   All the agency needs now is achievements to make us proud.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this week, the University of Wollongong’s Sarah O’Shea  on student equity in our series on what teaching needs now.

And David Myton talks to  much acclaimed and awarded academic-entrepreneur, Mike Aitken.

Finkel calls for global research-quality accreditation

The Chief Scientist calls for an international assurance process for research publishing

Alan Finkel has called for a research equivalent of the ISO international standards of quality management and assurance. “If journals are to retain their position as knowledge custodians they have a responsibility to be more than scrupulous. They also have to be accountable and transparent,” he told a Hong Kong conference on research integrity, Sunday.

The Chief Scientist proposed a publication process quality assurance system to set global standards.

“Compliance with PPQA would indicate to researchers, research institutions and granting agencies that the journal followed internationally accepted guidelines. And granting agencies would only consider research that has been published in a PPQA compliant journal when judging applications.”

Dr Finkel suggested the basis for audit standards already exist, in guidelines on transparency from the Centre for Open Science and recommendations from the US National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. While he put no firm view on organisations to run the accrediting and following audit process but he said a global agency would need to maintain the open-to-all register of accredited journals, funded by journals, research grant agencies and charities.

“Since granting agencies provide the keystone research funding, they have the greatest capacity to push for a shift in behaviour. They should set a timetable for the deliberations,” he said.

R&D advocates say research grows the economy – industry is not listening

The Productivity Commission reports a “troubling” decline in research and development investment

The Commission reports this morning that productivity growth was “sluggish” in 2017-18. “This is troubling because investment typically embodies new technologies, which complement people’s skills development and innovation. This is especially so for investment in research and development, where capital stocks are now falling.”

The Commission suggests a bunch of reason why, including business being focused on short-term results, slower transfers of new knowledge and technologies from developers to adopters and the growth of service industries, such as health and education, where productivity is lower.

This is bad news for everybody in universities and government keen to partner with industry. Where’s innovation advocate Malcolm Turnbull now he’s needed?

Minister for lots of good news

Greg Hunt isn’t the only minister with grants to announce, it just looks like it

The Health Minister announced funding yesterday for the government’s Million Minds Mission ($125m to enlist 1m additional people in mental health trials and programmes). Sarah Maguire, from Uni Sydney has $3.7m to research mainstream care of eating disordersDeakin U’s Matthew Fuller-Tyszkiewicz has $1.34m for work on using digital technology to reduce prevalence and severity of eating disorders.

With Christopher Pyne gone from Defence, Mr Hunt is the government’s unmatched master of maximising the impact of research announcements. It is a rare week he is not out announcing or opening Commonwealth funded initiatives – of which the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Medical Research Future Fund ensure there are heaps.

Flinders U’s big, really big, development

Flinders U is set to expand research, student and community infrastructure

What is happening: The development, to be built around a new connection to the rail system , includes a health research complex, new housing for 3000 international students, a hotel and retail. Flinders U says it “will invite public and private partners” to work on the projects.

More of the needed same: The development is separate from the university’s industry innovation research facility at neighbouring Tonsley Park, where there are plans for another hotel to service visitors to the university and corporate research partners working on Industry 4.0 technologies. 

Paying for it: The university expects to realise $16m for the project from use of crown land which will be converted to freehold. Flinders U will fund its share of the $200m health research complex from existing reserves and future borrowings. The university says it now has no debt.

Why now: The project’s potential largely depends on connecting Flinder’s campus to the rail network. A short but expensive, $120m (a big bridge is required) project has been on state and federal agendas since 2015. Funding was only confirmed in April.

Flinders under full-sail: This is another of the big change-programmes at Flinders U since VC Colin Stirling arrived in 2015 and set a course out of the doldrums in which the university had long languished.

He began by reorganising administration and continued with an academic restructure (bitterly contested by the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union), creating a net increase in teaching jobs, but with unspecified loss of existing positions.

In 2017 Professor Stirling oversaw new entrepreneurship subjects, adapted from a programme at Temple U’s Fox Business School, available to all undergraduates.

In March the university said internal changes will generate $100m in savings over five years, for research.  There is a further $100m for teaching, from growth in student places.

And now he is looking to develop new revenue streams.

CRCs and Industry Growth Centres: spot the difference

Karen Andrews made it plain last week she really likes Industry Growth Centres, she made it plainer yesterday

The Industry, Science and Technology minister yesterday announced $8.5m in project funding for the Australian Cyber Security Growth Network, one of the Industry Growth Centres.

The money will, “help the Australian cyber security industry grow and take ideas global.”

The announcement follows her speech last week in which she made clear the IGCs were as important as the cooperative research centres programme. What, like the Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre, set up last year, which, “is focused on delivering industry-driven cyber security research outcomes that have impact and address real-world cyber security problems with innovative solutions?”

Appointments, achievements

Sally Robinson moves to Flinders U to become professor of disability and community inclusion. She joins from Southern Cross U.


The Council of Australasian University Directors of IT announces its 2019 award winners,

Improving student success: University of Canberra, Student 360 Team

Innovation in teaching and learning: Griffith U, Digital Solutions Team

Excellence in research support: Uni Auckland, Centre for eResearch Hub Development Team

Operational Excellence: Uni Newcastle’s Kesley Kernes, Cliff Kroemer and Jessika Magnisson Baker for robotic process automation

Emerging leader: Uni Auckland’s Tamara Al-Salim

The inaugural ACE award for involvement in CAUDIT goes to Scott Sorley from Uni Southern Queensland