University of New South Wales Partners with Chinese Torch Program

Australia and China are embarking on a decade-long collaboration effort to spark international energy and environmental innovation.

In a meeting on March 1, 2016, a leadership delegation from University of New South Wales met with representatives of the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology’s Torch Program in Beijing. The two organizations aim to establish long-term research and development partnerships between UNSW and Chinese businesses through the development of an Innovation Precinct at the university. The meeting also included representatives from Chinese businesses in the fields of energy and environment, new materials, and biotechnology.

The Torch Program, established in 1988, strives to promote technology transfer and the commercialization of innovative technologies by developing international partnerships and high-tech industrial parks in China and around the world.

The Chinese program dovetails with UNSW’s recently announced 2025 Strategic Plan, which includes among its initiatives the development of a A$50 million Innovation Precinct. According to UNSW’s innovation statement released last year, the precinct “will bring together industry, small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs), entrepreneurs, investors and policy makers from around the world.”

As part of the proposed collaboration, the university is offering special services to international companies in exchange for industry investment in the university, according to Laurie Pearcey, director of international strategy for Greater China and India at UNSW.

The university is offering rent-free office space for international companies on the university's campus, as well as access to a team of business development advisers to help support the companies in their bids to enter the Australian and New Zealand markets.

At the heart of the program is the opportunity for collaborative research between UNSW experts and industry researchers. This collaboration is undergirded by the university’s commitment to provide full-ride scholarships for PhD students selected by industry partners, opportunities for permanent residency visas, and an innovative IP sharing scheme.

The IP sharing mechanism, called Easy Access IP, is designed to hasten commercialization of university-developed technologies via partnerships with industry. UNSW offers free IP licensing to select companies that invest in the university’s research efforts. As long as the companies allow continued university research, acknowledge UNSW as the inventor, and put the technology into use within three years, the university grants these companies permanent licensing to university IP.

Pearcey emphasized that UNSW is internationally recognized as a research leader in renewable energy, having set numerous world records in solar cell efficiency. The university also has top-tier facilities used to simulate solar cell manufacturing, and boasts its status as a national leader in providing research grant funding for collaborative research projects.

The formal partnership between the Torch Program and UNSW is expected to be signed in April, and the first round of industry partners will be announced in the third quarter of 2016.