PM announces world first Australia-China innovation hub

Originally published on EducationHQ (April 15 2016)

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced an “unprecedented” $100 million innovation partnership with China to build a new technology hub at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

China has invested $30 million into the project, which is being touted as a “global-first” and looks set to deliver a major boost for Australian research and technology. The university is hoping to attract a total of $100 million in investment by 2025.

Speaking after the Australian and Chinese leaders attended a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Thursday night, UNSW president and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs welcomed the investment.

“This partnership is a global first and has the potential to reset the Australia-China bilateral relationship and boost the nation’s innovation system,” he said.

The new Torch Innovation Project is the first of its kind outside China. Backed by eight leading Chinese companies and the Ministry of Science and Technology’s “Torch” high technology industry development program, it will support Australian research in advanced materials, biotechnology, energy and environmental engineering.

China’s own 150 Torch precincts currently generate seven percent of GDP, ten percent of industrial output and 16 percent of export value. According to independent economic modeling by Deloitte Access Economics, UNSW’s new Torch Innovation Precinct will add more than $1 billion to Australia’s GDP in the first ten years alone.

“This is about future proofing our national competitiveness by strategically positioning Australian as China becomes…the 21st century’s science and technology superpower,” Jacobs said.

UNSW International Executive Director Laurie Pearcey is himself a former Chief Executive of the Australia China Business Council and said the partnership was an example of the university “taking the initiative to put some real momentum behind Australia’s National Innovation and Science Agenda”.

“As mining investment contracts and commodity prices cool, Australia has an opportunity to leverage its world-class universities, the tens of thousands of Chinese students studying here and our strong links to Asia to meet the challenges of the ideas boom,” Pearcey said.

Malcolm Turnbull is on his first official visit to China since he took office in September.

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