Message from the Vice-Chancellor

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj

Collaborations between Australian businesses and universities yield $10.6 billion a year for participating companies and $19.4 billion a year for the nation. 

These compelling numbers come from Cadence Economics modelling for Universities Australia, and add to other indications that collaborations with universities make good business sense. 

I would argue that less measurable benefits to individuals, families and society are even more valuable.

Although Australia is third in the world for the number of universities in the prestigious Academic Rankings of World Universities top 100, the nation consistently makes a poor showing in global measures of rates of collaboration between business and universities.

Some Australian businesses have been bucking the trend and UQ has been a beneficiary of their mindset. We have a portfolio of brilliant new and longstanding partners whose main work is outside academia, but who leverage our multidisciplinary capabilities, talent pipeline and burgeoning entrepreneurial capacities. 

While some are established players with histories of changing the game in their sectors, others are disruptive wunderkinds working with UQ people to shape the new economy. 

For instance, various young businesses are based with UQ’s ilab startup incubator at Long Pocket near the St Lucia campus. 

They seek to pioneer and promote new technologies and habits across areas ranging from household energy usage to sustainable agriculture. A number employ UQ graduates, offer students internships and drive new research opportunities. 

One exemplar is Redback Technologies, a renewable energy storage specialist that has linked with ilab since Redback began in 2015. Its workforce has grown tremendously from three to almost 80, including 13 UQ researchers, and it has raised approximately $22.5 million from private entities and the Queensland and national governments.

Movus, another ilab Long Pocket resident, which aims to revolutionise the monitoring of industrial machinery, recently raised $4.8 million.

Of course, not all development and innovation moves at the cracking startup pace. 

Patient partners have long been seminal to outstanding outcomes for students and graduates, and for the impact of UQ research and innovation.

That is reflected in a number of ChangeMakers stories.

A factor our partners have in common is that, even if the economic impact of their work is not easily measured, they contribute to the massive benefits I touched on at the start of this column. 

They extend the range and multiply the scale of UQ’s work in ways that we could never do alone.  

It is therefore not surprising that collaboration is a key focus of UQ’s Strategic Plan 2018–2021, and something I will continue to talk and write of.

In the meantime, I thank all UQ’s partners. Please tell us what works for you – and how we can improve. Together, we can make the returns to society from high-quality learning and research even bigger. 

Professor Peter Høj
Vice-Chancellor and President