The University of Newcastle, Australia

University of Newcastle “walks the walk” on innovation, says Minister Roberts

Thursday, 4 February 2016

The NSW Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy, the Hon. Anthony Roberts MP, has praised the University of Newcastle as home to "world-class research and innovation" during a visit to the University.

The Minister, touring innovation projects across the University with Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald MLC, said he was impressed by the scale and quality of the applied research underway at the University of Newcastle, its Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER) and the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI).

"Newcastle is a world leader in many disciplines, including health and medicine, energy and resources, and engineering," said Minister Roberts.

"It is wonderful to meet so many researchers able to translate their work into solving some of the complex challenges facing our world."

"The University of Newcastle is 'innovation central'. You were walking the walk on innovation before many universities were even talking the talk," said the Minister.

Professor Kevin Hall, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) thanked the Minister for his engagement with the University.

"We sincerely appreciate Minister Roberts and Parliamentary Secretary MacDonald visiting our innovative researchers."

"Innovation will power the NSW and Australian economies in future. Research-intensive regional universities, such as the University of Newcastle, are at the heart of making that happen."

"The breadth and quality of research at the University of Newcastle means we can make a major contribution to the NSW regional economy, and to Australia's global competitiveness."

This year, the University of Newcastle embarked on its 10-year strategic plan, NeW Futures, which includes a commitment to drive global and regional impact through engagement with business, industry and government. The Minister engaged with several examples of world-class innovation at the University including:

  • CLARITY Microscope, a new technology that could revolutionise the way tissue is visualised in biopsies by making a tissue sample for a lung or brain, for example, or even a tumour, appear 'see through' in 3D computer modeling. This would mean existing techniques for analysing tissue samples, where tissue is very thinly cut and examined, could be supplemented or replaced by this remarkable new technology. The Microscope is based at the Hunter Medical Research Institute.
  • HiveUAV, a company developing highly sophisticated unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or 'drones') and automated docking stations ('Hives'). HiveUAV's technology, based on research led by Dr Chris Renton of the University of Newcastle, creates a robust platform that integrates cameras, sensors and technologies that allow precision flying without human intervention. The 'Hive' docking stations will enable automated takeoff, landing, image transfer and wireless charging for a fleet of UAVs. These cutting-edge UAVs have multiple possible applications across defence, emergency response, critical incident management and many others.
  • Brand new bulk solids handling technology, developed at the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER) by TUNRA Bulk Solids, that can improve the efficiency of the mining industry in Australia:
  • Dr Kenneth Williams and Dr Wei Chen have developed a research pathway to look at removing moisture from minerals before they are transported. The economic impact of moisture removal from minerals before transportation is substantial: reducing moisture content from 9% to 8% for 100 million tonnes of exported iron ore, for example, would produce savings in transport costs of approximately $40M per annum. In 2015, Australia exported approximately 720 million tonnes or iron ore.
  • TUNRA Bulk Solids is also developing cutting-edge bulk material handling equipment for mining, mineral processing, agriculture, energy and process industries. Resilient materials are essential: a simple transfer chute that has worn out lining may take 1-2 days to repair. But 5,000 to 10,000 tonnes of materials would be transported through that chute every hour, creating major costs when the chute lining erodes. TBS's solution is to design, build and operate innovative wear assessment equipment for industry to accurately assess wear liner effectiveness.

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