Vic unis to share $ 100m innovation boost

Victorian universities will share in $ 100 million to spawn new ideas and nurture them into profitable, homegrown businesses.

All nine Victorian universities can apply for grants ranging from $ 250,000 to $ 1 million as part of the five-year initiative, the state government announced on Thursday.

The universities will be able to co-design their “pre-seed” investment fund and must match the government grants dollar for dollar.

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The funding will ensure the best of universities’ innovation and design, product development, engineering, science and technology is not “not gobbled up by investors from the other side of the world”, Premier Daniel Andrews said.

“It’s about making sure that we have the maximum chance of those ideas … going from the laboratory to market, from concept to investment, to jobs and profits, right here in our state,” he told reporters at the RMIT Advanced Manufacturing Precinct .

“We’ve got big challenges as a state, as a nation, coming out of COVID and the only way to deal with these challenges is to grow our way out of those challenges.

“If you have all the best ideas coming out of Melbourne but the profits and the jobs are going to Singapore or to San Francisco that’s no good for Victoria.”

Investors recently poured $ 9.6 million into setting up clinical studies on an ingestible, pill-like device developed by RMIT to diagnose conditions like irritable bowel syndrome.

Further, RMIT researchers are currently working on 3D-printed implants to replace bones riddled with cancer or defects instead reinforcing them with traditional plates and screws.

The concept could be commercialized in the next two to three years, RMIT advanced manufacturing professor Milan Brandt said.

“The local market for these sort of implants is about $ 70 million each year … but the global market is in the billions of dollars,” he said.

According to the government, Victoria’s startup industry has grown from a $ 3 billion valuation in 2019 to more than $ 23 billion.


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