South Australia is well placed to take a leading role in the clean technology sector, according to New Venture Institute director Matt Salier.
Flinders University, which runs the New Venture Institute, and the South Australian government recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Prospect Silicon Valley, a leading clean tech organisation in the United States, to develop the university’s Tonsley industrial park.
Salier notes that while Australia is leading in the alternative power and energy sector, more needs to be done in some areas in the clean tech sector. He cites Queensland as a world leader in battery power and Siemens at Tonsley as a leader in wind turbines.
“Already academics are collaborating and researching together. It is part of the ecosystem that incubators build. SA has an abundance of raw materials and intellectual prowess. It is well-poised to take a leading role in this sector,” he says
Salier says the MoU is a statement of intent that demonstrates the willingness of global actors to work together to commercialise and popularise clean tech.
“Clean tech are by-products of a process that have the least environmental impact and create more sustainable technology. For instance, the increasing use of new nanotechnologies can develop new ways to process fuel and make cars more efficient or aerodynamic,” he says.
He says the MoU is about ensuring “we have access to technology that has commercial applications and to immediately move that capability and plug it into an accelerator program”.
“Practically, any emerging industry has to deal with the economies of scale and getting up to scale. There is a risk one takes when funding is high. MoUs and collaboration between organisations reduce barriers of entry and can cut costs.
“Learning and acquiring knowledge can be done without incurring direct costs. It helps to make the transition from a nascent industry to a better established one. We cannot create new products and services in a bubble. Rather, we must take advantage of global connections.”
Students will amplify their learning while small and medium-sized businesses will be able to connect with like-minded companies in South Australia and elsewhere.
“All manner of opportunities will open up. Companies with access to capital can partner with emerging companies to use technology,” he says.
In a statement on the university’s website, Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling hailed the transformation of Tonsley into a “world-class, collaborative and high-value industry, education and residential precinct.” He added that a $120 million state-of-the-art teaching and research facility will become a hub for entrepreneurs creating startup companies in partnership with the university’s New Venture Institute.
“By bringing together the very best students, researchers and entrepreneurs in a collaborative environment we can build links, and foster knowledge-exchange, in ways that build businesses and enhance impact,” the statement reads.
“Our students will enjoy ‘hands on’ experiences in engineering – from aircraft wings and autonomous underwater vehicles – located in a 2000 square metre “pod’’ – to nanoscale devices and advanced manufacturing techniques.”