The Newcastle Institute For Energy And Resources - Five Years Building A Best Practice Model For University-Industry Engagement



How to develop a best-practice model for university-industry collaboration

Alan Broadfoot
University of Newcastle


 
Outcomes and impact of the case
The establishment of NIER has resulted in:
- Innovative, transformational research and subsequent technological inventions focusing on energy and resources and the evolving requirements of the sector
- The development of a concentrated collective of academics and research scientists, along with a cohort of industry-ready postgraduates
- The development and continuation of strong international and domestic research collaborations with industry, government, research and community stakeholders
- The creation of a hub for energy research to advance the science and technologies underpinning the generation and utilisation of energy for the benefit of Australia, and the global community

NIER has attracted almost $100million in research funding of which approximately sixty percent is industry funded, leveraged through government funding.

NIER has established and maintained strong collaborative research partnerships with:
- Leading industry companies in the energy and resources sector, such as BHP-Billiton through NIER’s ARC Hub for Industrial Transformation of Australian Iron Ore and Centre for Ironmaking Materials Research, AGL through the Hunter Energy Transition Alliance, and Aspen Medical through our Centre for Resources Health and Safety
- Large international industry and government companies including Sinosteel, State Grid Corporation of China, South African National Energy Development Institute and VTara Energy Group in India.
- Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) companies, through partnerships with Austmine and the hosting of the NSW Energy and Resources Knowledge Hub
- Local Government and Councils, particularly NSW Coal Innovation, and the Department of Industry’s Primary Industries and Resources and Energy Divisions and Muswellbrook and Narrabri Shire Councils, through NIER’s International Centre for Balanced Land Use
- Reputable international tertiary education institutes, including the Clean Coal Centre at Pusan National University of Korea, China’s Sinosteel Anshan Research Institute of Thermo-Energy and the Indian School of Mines.

The success of the NIER model is evidenced by:
- The attraction of almost $100million in research funding over the five years since establishment by NIER-affiliated and supported researchers
- Research excellence contributing to regional economic diversification and the development of sustainable and resilient regional communities
- The generation of nodes of research activity through hubs and networks in areas challenged by the need to transition to a diverse economy, or produce more sustainable outcomes
- The quality of and commitment to our partnerships, including industry, government and fellow tertiary education partners, both nationally and internationally
- The cooperative occupation of the precinct by approximately 300 staff and students within over fifteen research groups, including four Priority Research Centres, one ARC Industrial Transformation Hub, an International Centre and Global Innovation Chair (Balanced Land Use), a well-established, highly reputable commercial entity (TUNRA Bulk Solids), and a handful of engaged industry partners
- A world-first demonstration pilot plant established and operating on the site – the Ventilation Air Methane Abatement Technology Detonation Tube
- Numerous visits to the Institute by federal and state government Ministers and representatives, key international delegations, industry partners and associated stakeholders to see firsthand the research innovations underway, alongside state-of-the-art facilities
- The proposed transition of NIER into a wider model encompassing a Global Impact Cluster in Energy, Resources, Food and Water as part of the University’s wider Strategic Plan, and the modelling of this cluster model on the frameworks on the NIER model in terms of management and governance, operations, strategy and engagement activities, and executive support.