Research and Innovation Plan Update
As we move quickly towards the end of the first year of the NeW Directions strategic plan, it is opportune to recognise the progress that has already been made on the Research and Innovation Plan. The Research and Innovation Plan is the strategy to underpin the research of the University across the diverse range of fields, and the application of those discoveries to 'real world' issues for the betterment of the local, national and international community.
Following the outstanding Excellence in Research for Australia released in late 2012, the University can justifiably claim to be working at the cutting edge of world-wide research. The focus of the New Directions Research and Innovation Plan throughout 2013 has been to continue to build upon existing areas of expertise as well as promote the development of those fields where we are emerging as a global leader. Key to this ambition is that the University engage with as wide a range of local community and industry partners as well as increasingly promote its research on the international stage.
A critical mechanism to drive the future diversification of the University's research and level of engagement with the community has been the establishment of four research clusters. The clusters are the vehicle by which the University will bring together previously isolated areas of research expertise to promote innovative solutions in fields with strong potential for social benefit. The Food, Creative Industries and Defence Clusters are all at an advanced stage of development and will be officially launched before the end of the year. The e-Health Cluster will follow in early 2014.
Industry Innovation Precincts
The University has similarly made its renowned research capabilities available for the benefit of industry and sought to create new opportunities for engagement by having joined the two Industry Innovation Precincts (IIP) established by the Commonwealth Government. The Food and Manufacturing IIPs are intended to consolidate and refine public and private sector capabilities for the national benefit. The University is committed to this purpose and in particular, by the leadership Ourimbah researchers offer the Central Coast food industry, is taking an increasingly prominent role in the Food IIP.
NURO publications system
The provision of better data to support the internal identification of other areas with capacity for future strategic promotion has also been a focus of the Research Division activity in 2013. In addition to the range of information already available, this month will see the introduction of the NURO publications system. This first of its kind project, developed under the University's Strategic IT project framework, will offer real-time, customisable publications data to academic staff and management.
Helping research careers
The NURO system is however just one piece of a wide-ranging and ongoing review of the mechanisms in place to support the University's research. This review is also significantly focused on development of a best practice model to propel our own early and mid-career researchers into the next stage of their careers, as well as recruit emerging and established leaders to complement the University's culture of research excellence. This model is being developed with the input of key academic leaders via the University's Executive Committee and Research Committee.
Research Higher Degree Scholarships
An initial review has recently been conducted by the Executive Committee of the University's Research Higher Degree scholarship procedures. The Office of Graduate Studies is forecasting a record number of completions in 2013 making the recruitment of the maximum number of high quality students in 2014 an institutional imperative. Strategies have been developed to increase RHD student numbers in areas of research strength as well as connect emerging disciplines with external scholarship opportunities, including those that are funded internationally.
International Partnership Plan
The ongoing development of a holistic International Partnerships Plan is another piece of the University's overall strategy that is critical to our ongoing participation in the global research environment. Led by the International Office, this plan will position the University to create formal linkages with leading international partners and provide access to the opportunities implicit to those engagements. Innovative models for staff collaboration and student exchange are under consideration and will be promoted across the University. The International Partnerships Plan will build upon several exciting relationships already entered in 2013, particularly several led by the University's flagship research institutes, the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER) and Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI).
NIER and HMRI
NIER and HMRI continue to excel in all aspects of research and are invaluable as the University strives to build new partnerships with industry and the community in order to maximise the impact of its research. In the last two months alone, research teams working within NIER have secured several multi-million dollar grants. The award of this funding is indicative of the University's standing as a leading research institution.
HMRI is similarly moving rapidly towards its own landmark event with the opening of the new 3T MRI Centre scheduled for November this year. The 3T facility will be the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and provide an invaluable resource for the University's researcher. By its translational focus, which the 3T facility exemplifies, HMRI continues to emphasize the University's dedication to making world leading research and facilities available to the local community.
Approaching the end of the first of the three-year Research and Innovation planning cycle, it is clear that admirable progress has been made by the University's academics, as well as the professional staff who make their work possible. It is equally clear however that the next two years present great opportunities for the University to expand its research activities and their reach in to the community.
I look forward to continuing this journey with you all.