New $8m investment boosts UNSW-China innovation partnership

The agreement will support 10 major technological innovation projects undertaken by UNSW researchers and Chinese institutes.

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Professor Qing Liu, President of JITRI, and UNSW Sydney President and Vice-Chancellor Ian Jacobs sign the The UNSW-Jiangsu Industrial Technology Research Institute Collaboration Fund supporting 10 major tech projects.

The development of Australia’s first globally connected technology and science precinct at UNSW Sydney achieved another milestone today with the signing of an agreement between UNSW and Jiangsu Industrial Technology Research Institute (JITRI).

The UNSW-Jiangsu Industrial Technology Research Institute Collaboration Fund is an $8 million investment that will support 10 major projects in technological innovation undertaken by UNSW researchers and Chinese institutes.

It is part of the Torch Innovation Precinct, a $100 million partnership launched in 2016 that will deliver funding for Australian research through the first Torch science and technology park outside China. The precinct, based at UNSW, will see collaboration between Australian research teams and major Chinese companies with the capacity, capital and access needed to translate research breakthroughs into new products, technology and services.

The UNSW-JITRI collaboration will provide a springboard for Chinese and Australian collaboration that will bring industry, academics, entrepreneurs and investors together.

Two of the first 10 projects funded will be with JITRI’s Institute of Water Environmental Engineering and Technology (Yixing) and JITRI's Institute of Membrane Science and Technology. The first project is "The Development of Advanced Treatment and Toxicity Reduction Technology and Equipment for Wastewater Effluent", and the second project "The Development and Use of Conducting Ceramic Membranes for Fouling Prevention, Contaminant Degradation and Ion Removal by Electrosorption." Both projects will be led by Scientia Professor David Waite, who is also the Executive Director of UNSW Centre for Transformational Environmental Technologies, UNSW's first research centre outside Australia. 

Professor Ian Jacobs, President and Vice-Chancellor of UNSW Sydney, said the $8 million investment will provide a further boost to collaboration between UNSW and China that will drive innovation in advanced materials, biotechnology, energy, and environmental engineering.

“The announcement highlights the importance of Australian-Chinese collaborations and national innovation planning and Australia’s bilateral relationship with China, our largest trading partner,” said Professor Jacobs.

'The $8m investment will provide a further boost to collaboration between UNSW and China that will drive innovation in advanced materials, biotechnology, energy, and environmental engineering.'

“One of the major projects under the new collaboration will offer new opportunities to scale up UNSW’s new Centre for Transformational Environmental Technology, the University’s first research base outside Australia that will translate environmental research into industrial application in China.”

Since 1988, the China Torch Program has created over 160 high tech zones across China and become a catalyst for innovation, urbanisation and economic growth. The Torch Program is associated with some of the biggest names in Chinese innovation, entrepreneurship and quality such as Lenovo, Huawei, Hisense and Haier.

A delegation of Chinese industry research partners, led by Professor Qing Liu, President of JITRI, was welcomed to UNSW by Professor Jacobs and Professor Brian Boyle, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Enterprise), Professor Mark Hoffman, Dean of UNSW Engineering, and Warwick Dawson, Director, Knowledge Exchange, Laurie Pearcey, PVC-International and Dr Yuan Wang, Director, UNSW Torch Program.

Professor Hoffman emphasised that many of the links between JITRI and UNSW are connected by the Faculty of Engineering.

“One of the strengths of UNSW Engineering is in research, global partnerships in industry, community and understanding that real impact is realised by commercialisation.”

Professor Hoffman recognised that part of the strength of the JITRI-UNSW collaboration is the opportunity for international and local engineering graduates to go on and work within Australia and around the world.

“We don’t sit in two countries; large parts of our population sit in both countries. Employers of engineering graduates are very diverse and at UNSW we are driven to have social and economic impact. This translation of research into the development of technology – whether in renewables, water or biomedical devices – connects closely with JITRI’s aims.”

JITRI was established in 2013 to promote and support industrial research and commercialisation of advanced technologies that may significantly impact the economic development of Jiangsu Province. It focuses on bridging gaps between fundamental research and commercialisation.

The signing of the collaboration fund was followed by tours of UNSW research facilities including the Solar Industry Research Facility, ARC Training Centre for Automated Manufacture of Advanced Composites (AMAC) and Mark Wainwright Analytical Centre.