New National Industry Innovation Network

A dynamic new alliance led by global technology giant Cisco and telecommunications leader, Optus; in partnership with world class universities, La Trobe and Curtin, has been formed to accelerate innovation and improve Australia’s long-term digital economic resilience and transformation.

The four foundation members - Cisco, Optus, Curtin and La Trobe University- have joined forces to establish the National Industry Innovation Network (NIIN), a new model for industry and universities to collaborate in addressing real-world industry challenges and responding to long-term national interests.

The new Network will act as both a clearing house for immediate industry challenges and a driver for economic stimulus, resilience and recovery through digital transformation.

La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar AO, welcomed the partnership as an important step to support innovation and job-creating economic activity.

“I welcome this new alliance as an important development in bringing industry and universities to work together to support economic recovery and digital transformation. This is an exciting new development with the potential to change the way we think about collaborations between universities and industry for the benefit of the nation,” Professor Dewar said.

“The ultimate aim of the network is to make Australia – and Australian industry – more adaptive and resilient,” according to Cisco ANZ VP Ken Boal.

“Australia faces immense health and economic challenges and no single company or university has all the answers. In combining our technology, expertise and networks, we can create a greater impact together,” said Optus Business Managing Director Chris Mitchell.

Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry AO emphasised the importance of universities and industry working together.

“We have demonstrated that sharing our resources and expertise brings great value to our communities and our economy. We are proud to partner with Cisco, Optus and La Trobe to take a leading role in finding new ways to solve industry problems and address national challenges,” Professor Terry said.

One of the first projects to be tackled by the NIIN will be a white paper on the role of collaborative technology in remote working, with a specific focus on government, health and education sectors. It is anticipated that the white paper will provide a framework to help users better understand and evaluate the adoption and application of these technologies in different use cases.

“We can take the learnings out of the recent surge in the adoption of collaboration technologies that have enabled remote working, and build on the capability and productivity that’s been realised, to support a more resilient digital economy and society,” explained Cisco Australia & New Zealand Vice President, Ken Boal.

“It is in Australia’s interest to provide governments, peak bodies and industry with the information necessary to make informed decisions on security, privacy, scalability and usability,” said Optus Business Managing Director Chris Mitchell.

The National Industry Innovation Network (NIIN)

The NIIN is a new model for combining the assets and expertise of industry and universities to provide a rapidly response to industry problems and challenges of national interest.

The four foundation members of the Network (Cisco, Optus, Curtin and La Trobe) have created an alliance to pool collective resources including research chairs, innovation centres, supply chains, partner networks and specialist expertise. The proposed alliance is a different, dynamic model for dealing with short term industry challenges and long-term national risks. It would act as a clearing house for immediate industry challenges, stimulate economic activity and be a vehicle for transforming digital infrastructure.

It is anticipated that the Network will grow over time as like-minded corporations and universities with comparable commitments to innovation and national outcomes participate in individual projects and/or join the Network.

Cisco and Optus have well-developed partnerships with La Trobe and Curtin universities, which will be used as the springboard for further developing the Network. Cisco and Optus have made major investments in innovation, anchored by four research chairs at two universities (Curtin and La Trobe) focused on fundamental technologies; cyber security, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and Software-Defined Networks. This investment is augmented by a global network of innovation centres, with one headquartered at Curtin, that are operated by Cisco and are designed to rapidly prototype solutions to immediate industry problems. In May 2020, Optus and Curtin announced a 5G partnership to ramp up research into new industry applications of the cutting-edge technology and create a dedicated 5G research lab.

Cisco and Optus investments have already included:

  • Research chairs in cyber security, IoT/AI, Advanced Networking, AI (at both Curtin and La Trobe) and Digital Health.
  • Leading industry-driven Innovation Centres and Hubs
  • A range of discrete investments related to improving curriculum and teaching