THE LINK: Two Years On from the Launch

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THE LINK, officially launched in June 2016, is a collaboration between Edith Cowan University (ECU) and the City of Joondalup.  THE LINK is the catalyst that ignites research, business and investment to develop innovative solutions.  The project aims to benefit business stakeholders, raise awareness of ECU and Joondalup across the State, nation and internationally. The project has three distinct phases and currently we are in Phase 2.

What has happened since the launch? 

Success has come on multiple fronts including:

THE LINK has been a critical building block in establishing the reputation for innovation within the Northern Corridor of Perth including at ECU.  This has resulted in ECU securing financial support from the West Australian Government Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation and AustCyber to establish the Joondalup Innovation Hub and West Australian Node for AustCyber.  The Hub was launched in November 2017 and will seek to develop key innovative growth sectors with an initial focus on cyber security.

Over the last two years, THE LINK team have established strong internal links across the University and engages regularly with all most every School.  There have been five significant developments:The Corporate Development and Professional Learning aspects provide a range of educational short courses and opportunities to share knowledge.  The Des_rupt lab is a co-creation space for academia and industry to work together.  The project has also generated numerous collaborative research projects and student placement opportunities allowing industry an opportunity to engage with the University.

One of the initiatives developed in 2017 was the Youth Innovation Summit.  This event has continued to grow and the second Summit was held in partnership with Spacecubed in August this year.  This initiative has sparked greater collaboration across the ecosystem, developing and supporting youth innovation.  There is still significant work to be undertaken in this space as youth unemployment remains high and the timeframe to secure a full-time job is unfortunately increasing. As a result, we will continue to work with all stakeholders to drive increase collaboration and opportunities for the youth cohort.

Over the last two years we have seen an increase in interest by academics to commercialise their research.  THE LINK team assists academics to explore the possibility of commercialising their research by provided advice, education and information (e.g. market size etc.). This has resulted in several new projects seeking external seed funding to continue the development.

One of our latest initiatives has been the launch of Innodate which is a cross-disciplinary interactive session.  A business will pitch a problem/challenge they are facing to a cross-disciplinary group to brainstorm some solutions. The outcome of these sessions has been research projects and opportunities for student projects. In 2018, we ran 12 sessions with 3 research projects being developed and 4 student projects.

We have seen an increase in awareness of THE LINK across Perth and within the local ecosystem.  Consequently, we have secured a second Platinum sponsor (Fortuna Advisory Group) and several new Digital Sponsors (Startup News, WA Leaders, Innovate Australia and IBNA).  Also, we have been approached by other universities to discuss in detail how the collaboration between ECU and the local Government was established and continues to grow.

The vision for THE LINK to become a vibrant, innovative hub that practices collaborative research and development in order to foster growth, encourage sustainability of business and create prosperous communities is now becoming a reality.

About the Author

Darren Gibson is the Senior Manager, Collaboration and Innovation at Edith Cowan University in Australia.

Image credit: THE LINK, Edith Cowan University