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Transcript of doorstop interview: University Of Wollongong: 25 September 2012: Australian Institute for Innovative Materials (AIIM) Processing and Devices Facility.

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Leader of the Government in the Senate Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research



Thursday 25 October


Subjects: Australian Institute for Innovative Materials (AIIM) Processing and Devices Facility.

PAUL WELLINGS VICE CHANCELLOR: It's my pleasure to be able to introduce Minister Chris Evans who's here today for the opening of this new multi-million dollar facility here on the innovation campus with the University of Wollongong.

I think for those of you who've been on the tour you will have seen some outstanding research facilities across a whole range of areas to do with bionics and the health sciences, all the way through to new energy sources, and it's a fantastic facility.

It would sit on any university campus anywhere in the world. And we're proud to have it here at Wollongong.

And we're particularly delighted that this has come about through the support from the Commonwealth Government who've been terrific in the background putting in a huge amount of resource and making sure that our research agenda's tailored towards the national needs.

Chris, I wonder whether you'd like to say a few words.

CHRIS EVANS: Thanks very much Paul. It's great to be here to open the Australian Institute for Innovative Materials Processing and Devices Facility as part of the Education Investment Fund.

Basically this adds another component to the Innovation campus. It provides for world-leading research.

It recognises the university's increasing capacity in that regard.

The great thing about it is it brings some of the best research from around the world, and some of the best talent from around the world to Wollongong to help lead a variety of efforts to research, but not just pure research - research that will allow us to connect with industry, to lead to manufacturing of a range of products that will help enhance our capacities in manufacturing, but in science, in research, and medicine.

I think this campus is turning into one of the best innovation centres in Australia, and, as I say, is world competitive. This additional building adds to the capacity, the capacity that the university is developing here.

And I think it's a great thing for Wollongong and the broader region because it's actually transforming.

We talk a lot about the industrial transformation in the region, but what you're seeing here is the opening up of science and research that will help develop new industry and new opportunity.

But I remind people that something that's often ignored, universities are one of the largest employers in Australia. Wollongong University is a very large employer, and a very large generator of economic activity.

So as well as providing world-class education to Australian students, we're foreseeing world-class science and innovation that will provide opportunities throughout the economy, but also develop Wollongong as a centre for innovation and research.

And so this investment by the Commonwealth Government is building on the already significant investment we've had in this campus.

As you can see there's an awful lot going on. And research centres from around Australia are using this as a hub for combined research.

So I think it's a very exciting time for the university, it's a very exciting time for Wollongong, and this just adds to what is becoming as I say a world-class facility, and a centre for innovative research that's also seeing a transformation of that research into manufacturing opportunities.

This is not just research for the pure sake of it or for the science, which is important, and it's part of what's done here; but is also very much engaged with industry.

And I think that's going to see multiple benefits.

So I'm very pleased to be part of that.

Sharon Bird and Steve Jones are great advocates for this. Sharon's actually my parliamentary secretary now, so she's - has very close access to me on these sorts of issues. But it is a great development for Wollongong and a recognition that the

university is becoming very much seen as a first-class university and is a credit to all the staff here.

JOURNALIST: What have you seen today that's particularly impressed you and would make you want to continue to invest in the innovation campus?

EVANS: Well I think first of all you meet researchers who are absolutely passionate about their work.

The University of Wollongong are attracting researchers from all around the world. Today, I think we've had a Scottish accent, a Chinese accent and Ukrainian accent.

So that shows you what Wollongong's attracting in terms of world-best researchers. Clearly the microscope technology is quite breathtaking.

Those of us who went to school and used those little microscopes next to the bunsen burners are absolutely blown away by the sort of capacity that we have now - and what that means for industrial research and other research.

So but I think what you're seeing here is development of something quite special, the scope and the breadth of the research being done here now, and the breadth of the capabilities is, as I say, really putting Wollongong on the map as somewhere where world-class research is occurring and where we're getting interest from China and India, their leading scientific organisations, has been part of what's happening on the Wollongong campus.

JOURNALIST: How much, I guess, of the $43.8 has been funded by the

CHRIS EVANS: Forty three point eight is the official Commonwealth investment, but the university is also making investments to bring it all together, and I think the other exciting thing here is the university's close connection with industry so we're seeing a capacity to leverage off their investments as well and get really practical applications for the research.

And interestingly, the industry engagement is very much at the front end now, their engagements are helping drive the research, and vice versa.

JOURNALIST: So is that like a start up investment, is that how it works, and then after the building established then it runs itself?

CHRIS EVANS: That is certainly the case. And we have invested in a lot of equipment as part of the program, but effectively the this now becomes part of the university, becomes part of their infrastructure, and obviously the Commonwealth Government continues to fund the university more broadly, but equally the university is also receiving ARC and CRC grants.

And one of the exciting things about this is that if you'll actually look at it a range of organisations are coming to the campus that are generating cross-disciplinary approaches, and very innovative developments. So it's quite an exciting hub for a range of research organisations.

And as I say you know India and China are now looking to partner with Wollongong on developments, and that's about them saying this is top quality stuff.