Looking local, looking global
Dr Brent Jenkins has lived all over the world for 25 years, working for multinational companies including BHP Billiton and global management consulting firm Arthur D Little. Now he has returned to his original stomping ground of Newcastle as the Chief Executive Officer of Newcastle Innovation (formerly TUNRA – The University of Newcastle Research Associates).
"I wanted to return to Newcastle to lead Newcastle Innovation because my academic and business career has focused on technology and that is a key part of this organisation. While Newcastle Innovation is a not-for-profit entity, our purpose is to create value for the University. We do that by commercialising intellectual property and also by helping researchers engage with the community in collaborative projects."
Jenkins’ focus is on extending Newcastle Innovation’s community engagement by capitalising on opportunities for University researchers, particularly in the biotechnology and energy fields.
"Multinational companies can afford to find the best people anywhere in the world and we have those people. We are also an attractive option to start-up companies which cannot afford their own research laboratories but can use our facilities and tap into our expertise."
Newcastle Innovation is positioning itself as an integral part of the prosperity and future of the Hunter region in the face of competition from other universities and large research groups. The change in name from TUNRA to Newcastle Innovation reflects an evolution in thinking and attitude for the organisation.
"My long term goal is to see Newcastle Innovation partnering to develop spin-out knowledge-based companies of a significant scale that can attract funding to the region, be export focused and provide an opportunity for graduates to work here. To achieve this, we are aligning ourselves with the work of the University’s Priority Research Centres, which are very active locally and internationally.
"Importantly, we cannot lose sight of the local area because if we are not servicing our own backyard, someone else will. So we need to maintain our focus on our region as well as position our researchers in national and global fields – it is about finding that balance."