10 December 2012

Dr Max Zanin, Jim Pae Lem (UniSA PhD student in minerals processing) with Prof Bill Skinner from UniSA’s Ian Wark Research Institute onsite at OzMinerals Prominent Hill flotation operation/concentrator in South Australia.

The Excellence in Innovation for Australia national trial to assess the economic, social and environmental benefits of research sets out a way for all Australians to understand the vital role of research and innovation funding, University of South Australia Deputy Vice Chancellor; Research, Professor Sakkie Pretorius says.

Speaking in response to the release of the trial undertaken by UniSA and 11 other Australian Universities, Prof Pretorius said it was too easy for the notion of research to take on a closed, “locked away in laboratories” status, so that people lost connection with its value and purpose.

“The EIA trial has been an invaluable foray into finding a way to measure research that is meaningful in the community,” Prof Pretorius says. “It shows people in real life terms, the value of the substantial tax dollars invested in funding research across the nation.

“It is also significant in the research world because it reveals quite clearly what excellent and powerful research looks like.”

The results of the trial which assessed 162 research case studies across the Australian Technology Network of Universities (ATN), the Group of Eight Universities (Go8) plus Darwin and Newcastle Universities and the University of Tasmania, showed that 87 per cent of the research assessed was having a considerable to outstanding impact.

UniSA’s Ian Wark Research Institute featured as an outstanding example of research that is making a difference in the world and specifically to the mining industry through its work in developing mineral flotation science.

“The Wark’s strong partnership with the mining sector delivered more than $318 million to the industry between 1988 and 2006 through successful technology transfer and by the end of this year that figure is set to rise to $1 billion,” Prof Pretorius said.

“It is just one example of how research delivers tangible economic outcomes for the nation. And across the full range of research assessed a picture emerges that translates to research that saves lives, provides employment, and protects the environment - all central to building a better world.” 

The University’s 12 projects assessed for the trial, ranging from the industry-partnered development of the world’s first fully plastic automotive mirror, right through to research into improving the use of medicines for better health and economic outcomes, all rated as having considerable to outstanding impact.

Professor Pretorius said the EIA trial had been thoroughly worthwhile and would help to shape the future of how we measure our research success nationally and globally.

He says coupled with the strong improvement in the Excellence in Research for Australia results announced last week it is clear that UniSA is building a strong base for quality research that makes a difference.

 Media contact: Michèle Nardelli office: 08 8302 0966 mobile: 0418 823 673 email: michele.nardelli@unisa.edu.au

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