UTS, USYD, ARIA Research to deliver Tech Central research infrastructure


Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

Sydney’s inner-city universities have won the bulk of new state funding for research infrastructure within the Tech Central innovation precinct. The $8 million is going to new facilities for researching alternative proteins, advanced packaging, and biosciences, while one will focus on applied research translation and commercialisation.

Recipients of the Tech Central Research and Innovation Infrastructure Fund were announced on Friday by the government.

The University of Technology Sydney received a $3 million grant to provide an Australian first Advanced Prototype Packaging Facility, which will develop commercial grade packaged semiconductor and photonic device prototypes at low to mid-volumes.

UTS also received a $1.4 million grant for a Vaccine and RNA Design Centre within Tech Central, while the University of Sydney was awarded $2.2 million for an Alternate Protein Application Centre in South Eveleigh.

The final grant went to private firm ARIA Research, which has been developing assistive technologies for blind and low-vision people. The company received $1.4 million to develop a shared space focused on research translation across a wide range of areas to be known as the Tech Central Human Augmentation Lab.

Artist’s rendition of Atlassian Central, currently under construction in Sydney’ Tech Central precinct.

Minister for Science, Innovation and Technology Alister Henskens announced the recipients on Friday, around eight months after the fund was launched.

“Tech Central already boasts tech giant Atlassian as an anchor tenant, three world-leading universities, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and over 100 research institutes,” he said.

“Its status as a nation-leading centre of innovation and development will be enhanced by these projects, harnessing the power of local expertise to bring significant physical and digital infrastructure across its target industries and research areas, from the University of Sydney, University of Technology Sydney and ARIA Research.”

The Tech Central Research and Innovation Infrastructure Fund opened for interest in May last year as the state government sought more open access research facilities for the still developing innovation precinct, which covers six inner Sydney neighbourhoods.

The area is already home to three universities, a research hospital, a quantum hub, several research institutions, and is anchored by Australian tech giant Atlassian.

Proposals needed to focus on existing areas of strength in the precinct, like quantum technologies, AI, and biosciences.

The state government last year looked to double down on areas of existing competitive advantage and strategically important technologies with a 20-year R&D plan.

“The successful applicants will accelerate the development of Tech Central as a place where people will come together to innovate, collaborate and explore new markets,” NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte said.

“These projects, which also include a Vaccine and RNA Design Centre, have been chosen for their capacity to add to the already vibrant technological and innovative ecosystem, with the aim to realise their potential, commercialise and raise their profile locally and internationally.”

The state government this week also launched a $10 million per year Biosciences Fund, which also targets work in priority areas of agriculture/agrifoods, medical and life sciences, and clean energy and waste.

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