The entire strategy, structure and activities are oriented around meeting this challenge and preparing the talent capable of addressing this complex phenomenon headon.Problems are sourced from the local and national government and addressed by teams of cross-disciplinary students (bachelor, master, PhD and lifelong learners), scientists and businesses. The students are supported in the projects by special education programmes to build technical knowledge from industry and academic sources, targeted softskills training from professionals and networking events to build linkages.
Students support industry professionals and scientists in the project and they in turn support the students through mentoring and access to the job market and academic path respectively. Global experts and leaders from industry make guest presentations whilst students build own knowledge relevant to the topic through a series of own mini thesis, white papers and consulting reports. These activities are designed to improve knowledge,whilst government and industry funding provides the spaces the support this learning, specifically development of infrastructure, facilities and equipment. Students go on site visits together with project partners from industry and academia as well as having own learning journeys visiting other universities and problem locations, which they document.
All of these activities are documented in usable forms, such as those listed above as well as videos, blog articles and social media posts, and fed back into the group. Professionals from industry and academia run a series of blue-sky, engaged and focussed research projects, supported by students and overseen by a project manager and project board. Large companies are anchor partners for the projects, providing funding, equipment and guest professors, whilst SMEs and startups are more free to come in and out of the project contributing at appropriate moments and all offering students work placement learning opportunities.
The university itself is a spin-off company fully owned by a traditional university, which gives it freedom to operate and ability to be more agile. The traditional university provides access to accreditation and facilities as well as branding and reputational support. It is funded by a combination of government and industry funding as well as moderate student fees and run by a mix of industry,academic, governmental and societal actors.
Now imagine the potential impact… the rescue of a specie, the repatriation of a coral reef, the repurposing of a desert to grow vegetables or the temporary protection of homes from bushfire. And all solutions with entire supply chains of skilled professionals, scientists, entrepreneurs and large companies positioned to support their propagation to other regions or other global warming problems.
Todd Davey is an Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Institut Mines-Télécom Business School in Paris and a visiting researcher at Imperial College (UK) and Adelaide University (AUST) in the topics of entrepreneurship and innovation. Formerly a Senior Manager with Deloitte Australia’s Technology Commercialisation Group and responsible part of the executive team for one of Australia’s fastest growing start-ups in the 2000s, Todd has ‘switched sides’ to work within academia, completing his PhD at the VU Amsterdam.
He was the Project Director of the largest study yet completed into cooperation between European universities and business, a study completed for the European Commission in 2010 and again in 2017. Todd is author of the book ‘Entrepreneurship at Universities’, a Director at the University-Industry Innovation Network (UIIN) and the creator of TechAdvance™, a tool for evaluating technologies.