One of Australia’s few manufacturing and services sectors that competes globally – the Mining Equipment and Technical Services (METS) industry* – is demonstrating the great benefits of business- university collaboration. Further, barriers to cooperation are being addressed, and new and exciting collaborations are emerging.
METS Ignited (an Industry Growth Centre, supported by the Australian Government) and the Australian Technology Network (ATN), with BHERT facilitating the discussion, supported a pivotal industry round table at the Queensland University of Technology on Friday July 28 2017.
Involving executives of 11 companies and leaders from 3 major universities, the forum considered perspectives provided by leading firms DINGO Software, GlassTerra, and Pinssar, presented by their CEOs. The CEOs highlighted the priority needs for their companies in the METS industry; the outcomes their firms are seeking to address current challenges. They outlined the challenges of working with universities, together with the solutions that had enabled effective partnerships to emerge. There was remarkable consistency in their perspectives, and these were supported by the other 8 companies represented. Key issues were:
- Crossing the chasm; working with the mining industry on product adoption, from early adopters to those less willing to change
- Developing new and effective data management solutions in the era of Big Data and Thick Data (qualitative data: customer decision-making factors)
- Behavioral and process change: instituting the management and operational skills necessary to capture the benefits of technology innovations
- Addressing a procurement order bottleneck: translating decisions into investment for mining companies
The Universities, individually and via peak body ATN, responded positively to the industry challenges and opportunities. The discussion highlighted many of the known systemic issues in business- company engagement in Australia: resource constraints, cultural differences, limited communication channels. Some important initiatives identified for further exploration outside of the Round Table included:
- Transparency: Making the results of university research more visible
- Leadership: Universities taking positions on key industry issues (such as product safety)
- Advocacy: Engaging the Universities to support the development of the Australian METS Industry as a world-leading sector
Specific solutions will be pursued by QUT, METS Ignited, and the ATN.
BHERT CEO Dr Peter Binks commented: “The METS Round Table was one of the most exciting events we have attended, and demonstrated the intent of companies and universities to work together. The METS industry is already one of Australia’s best, and is notable for strong relationships, and the contributions of universities such as QUT and Curtin”
The Round Table was a notable success for all participants, and thanks were given to METS Ignited, the ATN, and BHERT for their organization, and QUT for their hosting and support. Further Round Tables are being planned for the METS industry, with a Perth event likely later in 2017.
The event was also notable for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between METS Ignited and the ATN, committing the parties to work together in support of the METS industry.
For further information on METS Ignited and the METS Round Table contact Sarah Boucaut on firstname.lastname@example.org; for information on ATN contact CEO Renee Hindmarsh on Renee.Hindmarsh@atn.edu.au. For parties interested in working with BHERT to establish meaningful collaborations between industry and universities, contact BHERT CEO Dr Peter Binks on email@example.com
*Deloitte Access Economics (March 2017) estimates that through 2015-16, Australia’s mining and METS activities generated over A$130 billion in value-added, 480,000 jobs, and contributed 64% of Australia’s merchandise exports by value