New hubs are catalysts for innovation

Two newly funded Innovation Hubs at La Trobe University in Melbourne’s north, will help businesses grow by boosting access to La Trobe’s world-leading research expertise in food, agriculture, health and wellbeing, and digital technologies.

Totalling AUD $23 million, the Digital Innovation Hub and the Bio Innovation Hub at La Trobe’s Bundoora campus aim to accelerate research and development by start-ups and Victorian businesses through connecting them with La Trobe researchers, students and infrastructure.

The Digital Innovation Hub, will connect La Trobe and its technology partners with businesses to improve their processes, products and services through the use of digital technologies and development of digital workforce skills.  The Hub will provide businesses of all sizes with access to computing and network platforms and technologies to develop, test and take advantage of digital solutions to support their business growth.  Some of the services provided will include supporting the agrifood industry in developing improved manufacturing processes, and testing and developing portable tech devices using artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things to improve the health outcomes for elderly people living at home. The Digital Innovation Hub will benefit from La Trobe’s partnerships with global technology companies Cisco and Optus, enabling access to their leading expertise and technologies.

The Hub will also provide access to short courses delivered by La Trobe academics to help industry develop workforce skills in data analytics, cybersecurity and telehealth.

The Bio Innovation Hub will provide “wet” lab space, which is in very short supply in Melbourne, and equipment for biotechnology and agri-technology companies so they can commercialise their research discoveries.  Businesses in the Bio Innovation Hub will develop a range of products from potential drugs such as those improving treatment of fibrotic diseases through cutting edge diagnostics to medicinal agriculture products.

The Bio Hub will support the commercialisation of breakthrough research in Victoria by businesses, currently limited by a lack of access to these specialist facilities.

Announcing funding for the two new Hubs today, Victorian Minister for Training and Skills and Higher Education, The Hon Gayle Tierney, said, “Projects like these Digital and Bio Innovation Hubs are all about giving Victorians the very best opportunities – whether that be in training, research or jobs – while also strengthening the state’s economy.”

The new La Trobe Hubs will create 170 jobs including those during the construction phase, which will begin in May and are expected to be complete in 2022. Businesses – from start-ups to small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – will have the opportunity to become tenants in the bespoke facilities located within the University’s Research and Innovation Precinct, a key platform of La Trobe’s University City of the Future.

La Trobe Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar AO said the University is serious about providing practical solutions to global issues and the new Digital Innovation and Bio Innovation Hubs would reinforce its commitment to meet the research and commercialisation needs of Victorian businesses.

“Melbourne has some of Australia’s leading technology innovators, and these Hubs will give those companies a leading edge in Australia and internationally,” Professor Dewar said.

“Our new facilities will utilise the research capabilities and industry engagement expertise for which La Trobe is renowned, particularly in areas of molecular sciences, biotechnology, agriculture and digital technologies.

“They will also build on the University’s deep-rooted connection to businesses and the wider communities of Melbourne’s north and regional Victoria, creating a catalyst for innovation and economic growth.”

Professor Dewar said the Hubs would provide access to technology, knowledge networks, infrastructure and facilities currently unavailable in Melbourne’s north.

“Businesses will be able to connect with La Trobe’s experts in data analytics, artificial intelligence, sensors, internet of things and cybersecurity, benefit from the experience of our partners Cisco and Optus, and gain practical, tailored support to design, test and commercialise their technology solutions. The services will also be available from satellite sites in Shepparton and Bendigo.

“Our students will also benefit from the Hubs through opportunities for internships and work experience that will lead to future career opportunities.”

La Trobe University’s Research and Innovation Precinct, in which the new Hubs will be located, has already helped establish start-ups and foster the growth of businesses, including clinical-stage biotech company AdAlta Ltd.

Dr Tim Oldham, CEO and Managing Director of AdAlta Ltd, who attended today’s announcement, said La Trobe’s new Bio Innovation and Digital Innovation Hubs are a critical contribution to high impact collaboration between research and industry and to the translation of research into new products - something he had already seen first-hand through a long-term collaboration between his ASX-listed company and La Trobe.

“Over more than a decade, the partnership between AdAlta and La Trobe has played a pivotal role in the development of our drug discovery platform and our promising new therapeutic for fibrotic disease,” Dr Oldham said.

“La Trobe’s new Hubs will enable and assist companies like AdAlta to more easily tap into world-leading university research, talent and capabilities and expose more researchers to industry processes leading to outcomes that can make a difference to people’s lives while building an industry ready workforce.”

Background

The Digital Innovation Hub will provide businesses of all sizes with a secure digital environment, digital technologies, network platforms, skills and technologies to identify and test digital solutions prior to deployment within their organisation. It will be housed in purpose-designed collaborative workspaces including a makers’ space, demonstration space and design facility. It will play a critical role in education and training through the creation of internships, work placements and jobs to kick-start and speed up the development and adoption of digital innovations that will lead to business transformation and new product design.

The Bio Innovation Hub will offer much sought-after laboratory and office space for Melbourne-based biotechnology and agri-technology companies working to commercialise their research discoveries. It will include PC2 laboratories, temperature-controlled storage and shared, common laboratory equipment and access to specialist research infrastructure required by these companies to support their product development.

For more information about AdAlta Ltd, see adalta.com.au.

CAPTION: Clockwise from left, Minister Gayle Tierney, Professor Andrew Hill, Professor John Dewar, MP Anthony Carbines, La Trobe PhD student and researcher Bree Mellberg at today's announcement in La Trobe's Institute of Molecular Science.

Media Contact: Kathryn Powley | k.powley@latrobe.edu.au | 0456 764 371