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Wendy Frew
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UNSW will officially unveil a bold new innovation hub this week (Thursday 17 September). The Michael Crouch Innovation Centre (MCIC) aims to nurture student innovation from all disciplines, while making strong two-way connections with business.

Unprecedented at an Australian university, the MCIC is a creative space where the next generation of innovators can experiment, connect and showcase their ideas to corporate and industry partners.

UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Ian Jacobs says the centre will change the way students think.

“The Michael Crouch Innovation Centre is a key component of our efforts to create an entrepreneurial and innovative focused ethos and culture at UNSW,” Professor Jacobs says.

“We want to encourage our students to put their novel ideas into practice – ideas that could spark change and lead to social progress and economic prosperity.”

Established with the support of donor Michael Crouch, the Chairman of Midgeon Holdings, the MCIC will offer free workshops, seminars and pitch events aimed at nurturing innovators from across the University’s faculties and disciplines.

Crouch, who believes “everybody is an innovator and should be an innovator”, hopes the facility will inspire a new generation of students to challenge the status quo.

Student teams will be able to design and build prototypes in the Centre’s maker workshop, a state-of-the-art lab with 3D printers, laser cutters and other machining tools.

They will also have the chance to connect with potential funding partners and donors, with mentoring, advisory and residency roles giving industry and business an inside track to exciting new talent.

The MCIC has been a hive of activity since it opened its doors to students six weeks ago, ahead of the official launch. It has run numerous design competitions and networking events, and hosted several sell-out talks from innovators including Silicon Valley guru Guy Kawasaki.

The MCIC’s Chief Operating Officer Brad Furber says the Centre is committed to helping students “find a better way”.

“We provide an avenue for faculty and industry partners to engage with students, and a pathway to complementary support services,” Furber says.

“Given the incredible interest generated so far, we are confident we are well on the way to achieving this enhanced innovation ethos.”

The launch will feature the international premiere of DomeLab, an immersive, high fidelity audio-visual experience initiated by UNSW Art & Design. The experimental visualisation platform will feature 16 art and science movies, many showcasing UNSW-based innovations.

“This is Australia’s first platform for experimental fulldome research pioneering innovation visualisation experiences and research outcomes across the arts and sciences,” says DomeLab creator, Professor Sarah Kenderdine, who is the MCIC’s inaugural Artist-in-Residence.

DomeLab is supported by an Australian Research Council grant. Created in collaboration with 10 other organisations, it will tour internationally over the next five years. Read more about DomeLab here.

What: Official opening of the Michael Crouch Innovation Centre at UNSWWhen: 4.30-6pm, Thursday 17 September 2015Where: Gate 2, Building E10, UNSW Kensington campus