Celebrating industry-university partnerships in style

More than 100 industry partners, La Trobe academics and collaborators came together for the inaugural La Trobe University Partner Showcase & Networking function.

Hosted in the John Scott Meeting House at the Melbourne Campus in Bundoora, guests were welcomed by Pro Vice-Chancellor Industry Engagement Dr Megan Fisher. The in-person event was a chance to celebrate 2023 achievements and showcase exciting partnerships in key areas of expertise including health and wellbeing, biotech, agriculture, and food.

Dr Megan Fisher said, "We engage with industry to translate research for impact and create opportunities to deliver value. We are focused, with our partners, on building the La Trobe partner ecosystem, supporting the growth of companies, and the economic development of our communities. We seek to be your partner of choice."

To kick off the night’s partner showcases, Dr Ebonie Rio, Senior Clinical Research Fellow, took the stage to discuss the University’s long-standing collaboration with The Australian Ballet. Going from strength to strength since 2015, the partnership spans across many facets of our ecosystem including research, student recruitment and brand, industry engagement, sport and more.

Switching sectors – attendees then entered the world of biotech and biomed collaborations at the University. Xenia Sango, CEO, VivaZome, outlined exciting developments for VivaZome – which is co-located on the La Trobe Melbourne Campus, and will soon call the University’s new Bio Innovation Hub home. Ms. Sango was followed by Dr Lesley Cheng Sim, Senior Research Fellow, Biochemistry and Chemistry, La Trobe University. A partnership built from expertise in exosomes therapy, research is expanding into establishing a manufacturing facility – demonstrating the breadth that industry/academic collaborations deliver across the value chain. The collaborative work of VivaZome and La Trobe on exosomes will transform the treatment of diseases for many Australians.

The third and final partnership showcase for the evening was Nadun Hennayaka, Founder and CEO, Gaia Project Australia, and Prof Mathew Lewesy, Animal Plant & Soil Sciences. It was their time to wow guests – and they did just that with their out-of-this-world Plants in Space collaboration story. From participating in the Global Markets Accelerator Program run by the La Trobe Innovation and Entrepreneurship team, through to plants in outer space and robotics for vertical farming (even catching the eye of NASA along the way and winning of its Global Food Space Challenge), Gaia Project Australia is setting a lightning pace in innovation.

Following the formalities, attendees stayed on to network and explore the numerous food and activity stations on offer. Of particular interest was the Digital Innovation Hub station – giving visitors an experience of the technology and capabilities of the newly launched Hub and facilitating conversations about 2024 collaboration opportunities.

Overall, the La Trobe University Partner Showcase & Networking function was an evening of celebration and reflection. We look forward to collaborating and connecting with our partners in 2024!