UNSW Sydney has signed a five-year, $100 million joint venture establishing a new research and development institute in China to promote international research partnerships and accelerate commercial applications in the areas of biomedical engineering, renewable energy, and advanced manufacturing. 

Under the agreement, UNSW’s commercialisation company NewSouth Innovations Pty Ltd will partner with the Qingdao International Academician Park (QIAP) in Shandong province to form the UNSW China Advanced Technology Industrial Research Institute (CATIRI).  

The Institute will involve a contribution by QIAP of approximately A$100 million, with UNSW providing in-kind support in the form of academic staff time to work on Institute R&D projects, advancing patents developed by UNSW academic staff for commercialisation in China and abroad, and professional staff support.  

Launched in June 2016, the QIAP is a major effort to motivate the regional economy by attracting worldwide academicians to carry out high-end scientific research and helping commercialise their research results. UNSW is the first institution to sign an agreement with QIAP, which boasts agreements with more than 90 international academicians from countries including the US, Canada, Japan, Germany and India. 

The Institute furthers UNSW’s status as a champion for high impact collaborations across the Indo-Pacific exemplified through successful partnerships with educational institutions, commercial ventures and governments across the region. Those include the UNSW Torch Innovation precinct, the first of its kind outside China, which brings together technology companies and universities from China and six other nations as a way of commercialising discoveries. 

UNSW leaders are cognizant of the current climate and increased scrutiny Australian universities face when collaborating with Chinese companies and government agencies on research and development projects.  

In developing the partnership and to protect commercial and security interests, UNSW consulted and will continue to engage with a range of Australian government agencies to ensure due diligence and compliance with government guidelines, including the newly established University Foreign Interference Taskforce (UFIT). 

 “This agreement builds on the success of our Torch partnership with China and provides exciting opportunities to jointly translate and commercialise research discoveries,” UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian Jacobs said. “I am grateful for the support of our government agencies in assisting UNSW conduct due diligence and helping us to put in place appropriate safeguards at a time of particular sensitivity about these types of agreements. The research in bioscience and technology to be conducted under this agreement has exciting potential.” 

UNSW’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research Professor Nicholas Fisk said the Institute would increase opportunities for research engagement and commercialisation of UNSW intellectual property with Chinese and international industrial partners, including spin-off companies. 

“The partnership with QIAP is an important initiative that will close the gap between UNSW-led research and transferring the resulting IP to rapidly expanding commercial markets in China and around the globe,” Professor Fisk said. “It is also envisioned that the Institute will provide a collaborative basis to assist Australian companies expand their export opportunities into China, bringing additional benefits to Australia in general.” 

In addition to the commercialisation opportunities, UNSW academics will have enhanced opportunity to collaborate with international Fellows of Academies in QIAP and local universities. This will ensure UNSW maintains its status among the best research universities in the world. In the Excellence in Research in Australia (ERA) analysis released earlier this year, UNSW received more top ratings in broad fields of research than any other Australian university.   

The Institute will provide training for UNSW Higher Degree Research students, internships and employment for UNSW graduates, and international symposia that will benefit UNSW researchers. In addition, the Institute will fund PhD stipends and associated research costs to sponsor up to 100 Chinese PhD students for full-time enrolment at UNSW.