The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) has opened a new $65 million high tech research facility to encourage collaboration between industry, tech startups and researchers from around the globe.
The purpose-built UTS Tech Lab is spread across 9,000 sqm on a site in the industrial hub of Botany near Sydney Airport. It is also in close proximity to a major new technology and innovation precinct recently announced by the NSW Government.
The new facility was officially opened yesterday with Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte, NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer and Professor Attila Brungs, Vice-Chancellor and President, UTS among 200 guests in attendance.
“UTS Tech Lab is a unique research facility in Australia, where academics and researchers from diverse fields will work in tandem with industry and government to develop innovative solutions for the world of tomorrow, taking new technologies from early readiness to commercial viability,” says Professor Ian Burnett, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology (FEIT) at UTS.
“Tech Lab will cater to a wide range of companies, from big to small, including working with startups.
“It will continue to build on Australia’s research strengths and bring industry and academia together to deliver the most technologically advanced products and services. This will provide impact for our partners and jobs for our students and the wider community.”
Professor Burnett, says the state-of-the-art facilities at Tech Lab will attract companies and researchers from around the globe to work on new projects in engineering and digital transformation.
It would also help to encourage more students – particularly females – to consider a career in STEM. (Science, technology, engineering and maths)
“We will be working with high schools to try to attract more students,” said Professor Burnett. “We have more than 20 scholarships available for male and female students – all sponsored by industry.”
Supporting the economy and employment
When fully operational the new facility will house 200 staff and students.
“We will encourage startups and SMEs to come in and test out their new ideas,” said Associate Professor Ray Kirby, the Director of UTS Tech Lab.
“We hope Tech Lab will be seen as a supporter and contributor to the economy, jobs and business startup community.”
Tech Lab will have a strong focus on advanced manufacturing, including Industry 4.0, robotics, 3D printing.
“Industry 4.0 is an area where Australia can be very competitive,” said Professor Burnett.
“It requires really good design and cutting-edge technology and that’s where we excel.”
The Tech Lab will specialise in civil and environmental engineering, mechanical and mechatronic engineering, software, electrical and data engineering, systems, management and leadership.
Tech Lab will offer R&D projects, consultancy, contract work and short courses.
The state-of-the-art facility includes:
- Electromagnetic informatics and antenna chamber
- Data analytics, networking and communications
- Photonics and optical sensing
- Full-scale structural dynamics facilities
- Material testing and characterisation
- Geotechnical lab
- Acoustics laboratories, including anechoic chambers
- Electrical power and energy lab
- Multimedia lab computational intelligence and brain computer interface.
“Over coming decades, Australian business and industry will be transformed – as will the Australian workforce,” said UTS Vice-Chancellor Professor Attila Brungs. It’s critical that universities work hand-in-hand with industry to ensure we capitalise on the opportunities – and address the challenges – this presents,” he said. “Facilities like Tech Lab will allow us to do that.”
UTS Tech Lab is already collaborating with major organisations such as Sydney Water, using robotics and smart sensing in pipelines, as well as Nokia, which will run training courses out of the facility.
Other special projects include:
- Acoustics research to reduce noise in the hospitality sector, particularly dining rooms
- Emissions testing of hybrid vehicles, aimed at reducing pollution levels
- New technology to monitor termite activity in AUSGRID timber power poles across Australia
- SharkSpotter drone, an artificially intelligent shark detection system, in collaboration with Little Ripper Lifesavers
Tech Lab is also in discussion with other companies nationally and internationally interested in working at the new facility, especially in areas such as smart cities, Internet of Things (IoT), and advanced manufacturing.
The NSW Government recently announced a new technology and innovation precinct in the corridor from the Central Station area in Sydney city, where UTS is based, through to Eveleigh, a suburb just north of Botany. This corridor is home to Australia’s largest cluster of startup firms.
“Facilities like UTS Tech Lab will not only help Australia draw closer to countries with strong traditional research collaboration cultures, such as Germany, Canada and Singapore, but leapfrog other nations in innovative approaches to skill building and cross-disciplinary problem solving,” Professor Brungs says.