Dr Stephen Rodda has been appointed the inaugural Pro Vice-Chancellor, Industry & Innovation at UNSW Sydney. A research commercialisation specialist and executive leader with more than 16 years of experience, he joins UNSW Sydney from the University of Adelaide where he was Chief Innovation & Commercialisation Officer.

The new role reflects UNSW’s commitment to collaborating with industry and translating its research into outcomes delivering lasting social and economic benefit.

Professor Nicholas Fisk, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research & Enterprise, said Dr Rodda’s track record in change management will be invaluable as UNSW reimagines the way industry-led research is prioritised in universities.

“The Pro-Vice Chancellor, Industry & Innovation will play a pivotal role in nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit of students, staff and alumni and we look to Dr Rodda to embed a culture of innovation that nurtures the next generation of technologies and businesses,” Prof. Fisk said.

Of his appointment, Dr Rodda said: “It is truly an exciting time in Australia for innovation. The spotlight on the ability of universities to develop enterprising partnerships and to publicly demonstrate both the excellence and relevance of their teaching and research to our communities and the economy has never been greater.

“The new Pro Vice-Chancellor, Industry & Innovation role provides an exciting opportunity for strategic leadership across all areas of UNSW’s industry engagement, commercialisation, and knowledge transfer activities to drive outcomes with national and international impact at scale.”

Champion of research and innovation

Dr Rodda is a strategic leader and company director with experience developing, commercialising and championing research and innovation, both in university and industry contexts.  

As a former CJ Martin and Arthritis Foundation Fellow at Harvard University, Dr Rodda’s research applied his background in molecular genetics and stem cell biology to establish unique models for studying bone development and bone remodelling.

At UniSA Ventures Pty Ltd, the technology commercialisation and investment management company for the University of South Australia (UniSA), he was CEO, responsible for the overarching research commercialisation strategy, industry and investor engagement, partnerships, and investment portfolio management.

More recently, Dr Rodda was Chief Innovation & Commercialisation Officer at the University of Adelaide, heading up a new department delivering the University’s research income and commercial partnerships agenda across its research portfolio.

During his time at the University of Adelaide, Dr Rodda helped to secure the $250 million Defence Trailblazer, part of the Commonwealth’s Trailblazer Universities Program. A collaboration between University of Adelaide, UNSW Sydney and industry partners, the initiative will strengthen Australia’s sovereign defence capability and is expected to contribute over the decade an estimated $1.5 billion to the economy.

The Defence Trailblazer also seeks to transform university workplace culture by providing new incentives, recognition, promotional pathways, and career trajectories for staff engaged in research commercialisation.

A Harvard Business School alumnus, Dr Rodda has actively driven the formation and financing of more than 30 companies across his career and secured more than $500 million in investment, grants and other funds. He is passionate about the potential of great ideas to be turned into practical solutions, and of the role that collaboration between university and industry must play in forging a bold and bright future.