The Australian Research Council (ARC) has awarded close to $10 million to two UNSW researchers under the latest Industrial Transformation Research Program (ITRP).

Their initiatives will tackle important challenges facing Australians, including fire protection and resilience, and modernising the country’s architectural workforce to deliver complex, high value-add and carbon-positive manufacturing.

Overall, ARC approved $47 million to develop four new ITRP Research Hubs and six new Industrial Transformation Training Centres.

Professor Nicholas Fisk, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research & Enterprise said it’s fantastic to see two UNSW initiatives supported through the ITRP program.

“UNSW researchers have performed very well this round, securing around 20 per cent of the national awards and funding for new research hubs and training centres. The support for translating industry innovations in fire mitigation and safety is of utmost importance, while the development of architectural manufacturing will allow researchers and students access to the latest technologies and facilities, and to leading industry experts.”

UNSW Engineering Professor Guan Heng Yeo will receive $4.9 million to develop, manufacture and deploy next generation technologies and solutions to protect Australia’s critical infrastructure and assets against major fires. The ARC Research Hub for Fire Resilience Infrastructure, Assets and Safety Advancements (FRIASA) in the urban, resources, energy and renewables sectors expects to position Australia as a powerhouse of fire readiness. It will do this by developing end-to-end, integrated, advanced digital technologies and engineering systems that will enable industry to improve fire safety training and operations. It's expected the project will lead to advanced manufacturing capacity for fire resilience, and strategic partnerships and commercialisation pathways to translate research and development  into economic benefits, such as through new export markets and jobs.

UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture Associate Professor Matthias Haeusler will receive $4.9 million for the Centre for Next-Gen Architectural Manufacturing, which will generate specialised workforce capacity within Australia’s architectural sector. A/Prof. Haeusler will lead the project to leverage advanced architectural computing discoveries that will connect architectural design with the opportunities afforded by advanced manufacturing systems. The Centre will triangulate world-leading researchers, visionary partners and talented graduates, integrating research into practice through digital business strategies, augmented intelligence, and computing domains of expertise. The Centre’s program of industry-embedded PhDs, national and international work placements, short courses and post-doctoral projects will co-develop the change agents needed to transform the architectural profession to meet Australia's strategic needs.

ARC’s ITRP supports university researchers to partner with industry in priority areas for Australia. Industrial Transformation Research Hubs fund research projects focused on issues facing industry, while Industrial Transformation Training Centres support Higher Degree  Research (HDR) students and postdoctoral researchers gain practical skills and experience through placements with industry. 

ARC Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ms Judi Zielke said: “These Research Hubs will provide innovative research benefits, new products and commercial opportunities for Australia. They will provide a future for Australian research, researchers and industry, including in better using and recycling carbon, or improving bushfire resilience”.

Of the Training Centres, Ms Zielke said: “This is an investment by the Australian Government in developing answers to industries’ current and future problems and ultimately providing great outcomes for Australia.”