Release type: Transcript


Transcript: Doorstop at the Central Coast Clinical School and Research Institute, University of Newcastle, Gosford


The Hon Stuart Robert MP
Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business
Acting Minister for Education and Youth
Ms Lucy Wicks MP
Member for Robertson

Topics: University Research Commercialisation Action Plan; Schools Reopening 


Well, it was so incredibly exciting when I was listening to the Prime Minister yesterday talk about this $2.2 billion plan for Australia, because what it really means is for universities, for regional areas like the Central Coast, is this opportunity to take research to commercialisation, the opportunity to see more local jobs up and down the streets of Gosford, for example, to be able to see some of the best and brightest ideas that we have here in Australia, right here in Gosford, as we've seen just upstairs earlier, looking at some of the research with Dr Michael Burke. Extraordinary technology that is being used to help save lives. And seeing this actually a reality in the Central Coast Clinical School and Medical Research Institute, it only opened a little over six months ago, and already we're seeing some incredible advances. This funding, this important announcement is really going to help bridge the gap to help make commercialisation a reality, to help make sure that we see more local jobs and opportunities for people here on the Central Coast. I can absolutely see that this is such an important bridge, but also the bridge to industry as well. And I really can say that this is a vision that's not only going to enable our universities and research institutes to be able to thrive, but it's going to help local economic regions such as Central Coast be able to take advantage of all of that means to help drive our local economy forward as well. It means more opportunities for young people. It really means that it puts what's already a great heartbeat here with the university and the medical institute, it's going to actually take that up in a rapid pace – it’s on steroids, if you like. Just such an extraordinary opportunity for the coast.

I look out and I see Gosford High School students who are at Gosford High School being able to choose to study here at one of the best clinical schools around Australia, I believe. Students from Henry Kendall High School could also look out their window and actually have this opportunity. Students from all around the coast when they're driving and seeing this building, and it actually begins there, it doesn't end there, looking at the commercialisation, looking at the jobs. This is what this is about. The opportunities for now and into the future is incredibly exciting, to position Australia to be, I believe, the very best country in the world. I think this region is the very best region in the best country in the world. And what we are seeing here is the ability to be able to take the very best of what we can do and be and drive that forward into reality in terms of commercialisation. So exciting, incredibly impressive, and thank you to the Minister. And I just believe it's a reflection of listening to industry, to universities, to the research institute and to communities like here on the Central Coast who have been looking for something like this as a means of being able to take our region forward as well.


My name is Nick Goodwin, and I'm the Director of the Central Coast Research Institute here. And this is a joint venture between the University of Newcastle and the Central Coast Local Health District. So on behalf of both organisations, we’re hugely excited to hear the announcement to be made today about the significant investment that's going to be made in research translation, and particularly the focus on PhDs, research students and the ability to commercialise new technologies moving forward. This is really very essential, because when you look around the Central Coast, there's just so much potential, both for research into improving people's health and wellbeing. And the research institute that we've created here is a unique environment because it brings together not only the health professionals, the clinicians and the health managers together with leading academics, it's also bringing the best of new technologies to bear for the Central Coast, but also working directly with the local community on matters that really are going to be of benefit to them. So in the end, we're going to have a world-class environment, world-class research and education environment that's not only going to bring health and wellbeing benefits to the local community, but also bring economic benefits as well.

So certainly my vision and what brought me over here to Australia about two and a half years ago – Lucy was a big part of that - was really to be able to do something really rather special. And what we can learn on the Central Coast, we can replicate into many other communities across Australia and indeed across the Asia-Pacific. So, it's a huge benefit, I think, for me to be able to lead that movement. So on behalf of the university and the Central Coast Local Health District, absolutely applaud the investment that's been announced today and look forward to taking forward these aspects here on the Central Coast.


Can you provide, a practical example of how it would work and how the university would be involved?


Sure. So, there are many aspects. What happens often is research translation can be done very poorly. So, we're very good at discovery science, very good at understanding issues related to what can work and what can benefit patients. But how we then translate that into actual services or actual technology that's used every day to support people in local communities is not as well done as it should be. So, part of our activity is how do we ensure that when we’re co-designing either new technologies or medical devices or, well, tech devices or new types of services, we're ensuring that the community is involved, the health professionals are involved, and the academics are involved. So, the research that we do has a utility and a purpose that can be used and commercialised within the local economy. So we've been working in the areas of dementia. We've been working in the areas of supporting men aged between 50 and 64. We've got a great idea about how we can support people who are suffering from, sort of, deconditioning, particularly through COVID, and the threats that they have to their own health through complex chronic illnesses. But through the use of gamification, through the use of new technologies, new educational tools, new ways in which they can connect with an understanding about their own health that goes beyond what we have at the moment, then we can- we can potentially benefit going forward.

So there are lots of things that are ongoing. We're also working in a big European Union project called INCAREHEART, looking at how we can develop, co-design new technologies to support coronary heart disease, and how we can best procure them so that they’re used most effectively and cost effectively. So these are the sorts of things where you have those partnerships, both between the health service, the community, and the best academics using the best technology - you can really take a health system- you can really fly with it and create great opportunities.


It’s great to be here as, not just the Minister for Skills, Workforce, Employment, but also as Minister for Education as well, just to announce what the government's doing in commercialisation. As Nick said, we are one of the world leaders when it comes to blue sky research. It's about translating that. How do we convert that into economic activity? How do we convert it to real world applications, into jobs, into saving lives? And the commercialisation agenda that the government released yesterday is designed to do exactly that, designed to put another 1800 industry led PhDs and 800 fellows into the field; designed to take basic research projects and fund them through the research valley of death, right the way through to commercialisation, and using CSIRO’s very effective commercial ventures fund to do that in the final stages.

We all remember Wi-Fi. We’re using it every day. A great invention from CSIRO. Or the black box, in terms of understanding what's happening in aircraft, which was done by the Defence Science Technology Organisation. These are great Australian inventions that were commercialised, and we want to see so many more of them. This is government using taxpayers’ funds to partner with universities and industry to see that commercialisation happening. And wonderful to be here at Gosford at the University of Newcastle in the brand new building. Lucy is a local member who was so instrumental in bringing it to pass, and just seeing some of the advanced research here at the university that can be commercialised by these programs we announced yesterday.


Minister, do you have any comments about the first week of school going back? 


Oh, how wonderful is it? 4 million children going back. I think every parent is rejoicing across the country. 320,000 Australian children going to school for the first time, the little preppies, which is beautiful. And 240,000 Australians doing Year 12, the final year. It's been tough for two years. It's been difficult for all of us, not just speaking as a minister but a father of three sons. So having the kids back in school, back with their peers back in face to face learning, allowing mums and dads to get back to their lives and their work is excellent. Full credit to the state education ministers I've been working with to get schooling back up and running. It's wonderful and I think all parents are rejoicing about it.

Thank you.