Australia has incredible talent across academia and industry, and one of my great career passions has been working with others to realise their combined potential.

The National Industry Innovation Network (NIIN), a rapidly growing alliance between Australian universities and industry is, I believe, the embodiment of that potential. With the NIIN’s goal to realise digital opportunities that can benefit the lives of all Australians, it’s a working example of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.

To-date, ten universities and a host of industry groups such as Woodside Energy, Cisco, BAE and Optus, as well as government departments, have come together to share in this goal.

The NIIN has already established five research chairs across areas as diverse as Digital Health, Advanced Networking, IOT and AI, Retail and Logistics, and Digital Transport. Supporting that research is a national network of specialised centres where researchers and industry are pursuing specific goals.

Furthering the broader innovation agenda as well as the critical need to develop digital skills and talent for an industry-ready workforce, is a network of innovation centres and training academies. This ‘engine of innovation’ is one of the most exciting aspects of the NIIN and is already seeing ground-breaking result.


The horizontal integration of talent

When we place all of these pieces, the focus and brilliance of our universities, the resources and application of industry, and the passion and vision of students, in one place, amazing things happen. This was evident at La Trobe University, one of the NIIN’s founding members.

Three students were given the academic and industry support, a tight timeframe and a supervisor, to come up with a digital solution for our health sector. Within three months, the combined efforts have seen the development of an augmented reality platform for health professionals that could help alleviate the burden on the hospital system, and see better health outcomes for patients.

It’s worth watching this video to really see what we can do when we are all working in one direction, to innovate for our country’s future.


Reg Johnson

General Manager, Education

Cisco Australia and New Zealand