UON expands its presence in the Upper Hunter region
Building on a landmark partnership between the University of Newcastle (UON) and Muswellbrook Shire Council, the economic diversification of the Upper Hunter will receive a boost from today as UON establishes a physical presence in the region.
UON will occupy dedicated office space within Muswellbrook’s Tertiary Education Centre, alongside Hunter TAFE and the local library, to carry out research activities that will help shape the future of the region.
The Mayor of Muswellbrook, Martin Rush, said the University’s physical presence and strong engagement in the Shire represents a significant milestone for the region.
“Council’s vision to expand tertiary education into the Upper Hunter is now being realised with the establishment of UON Upper Hunter within Muswellbrook’s Tertiary Education Centre. I would like to congratulate the University on undertaking this new initiative and look forward to working collaboratively with them on growing innovation in the region,” Mr Rush said.
Forged from a partnership between UON’s Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER) and the Council, the Hunter Region Innovation Precinct was established last year to promote economic diversification in the areas of energy technologies, environmental remediation and community capital.
The precinct included the co-location of office space to secure a future for Muswellbrook as the region’s centre for tertiary education and innovation.
UON’s Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), Professor Kevin Hall, said the space will enable the expansion of critical research already being undertaken in the region.
“This new office space will give our researchers unprecedented access to the community and industry partners in the Upper Hunter during a period of significant economic transition. Our partnership with Council is an opportunity to build on leading research that supports the area’s diversification goals of becoming an innovation intensive region,” Professor Hall said.
Staff from UON’s Family Action Centre (FAC) will be among the first to utilise the office space, helping to further develop projects that have a strong focus on access to education and enhancing community strengths.
FAC’s Director, Professor Alan Hayes, said the offices are a welcome resource for their Muswellbrook-based projects.
“In order to develop projects that achieve genuine social and economic benefits, communities need to be engaged and included throughout the research process. This new space means we can be a permanent part of the community and cultivate our programs to have a sustainable, lasting impact,” Professor Hayes said.
The $6.1 million Tertiary Education Centre opened in August 2016. Programming in the Centre is supported by UON’s Integrated Innovation Network (I2N), through the NSW State Government’s Boosting Business Innovation program, which is aimed at giving small businesses access to research organisations to build strong local business communities and stimulate economic growth in NSW.