Science

Funding: UNSW leads the state in industry linkage grants

Example of a person to photo identification test. Image: David White
Thursday, 1 June, 2017
UNSW Media

Science projects to improve the accuracy of facial identification and to develop a topaz-based material for industry have contributed to UNSW’s strong performance in the latest round of federal government grants for industry-linked research projects.

UNSW outperformed all other universities in the State, and was ranked third nationally, receiving a total of $2.7 million for nine projects including the two Science projects.

Under the Linkage Projects scheme, industry partners make a significant cash and/or in-kind contribution to their projects. UNSW will receive $4.5 million (cash and in-kind) from its partner organisations over the life of the nine successful projects.

Earlier this year, Federal Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham said of the Linkage Projects scheme: “When researchers and businesses come to the government with strong proposals that will clearly deliver real benefits for industry and Australians, we want to be able to green light them as quickly as possible.” 

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Nicholas Fisk congratulated the grant recipients: “This is a strong result for UNSW, and validates our capacity to engage and collaborate with industry. These projects highlight the depth of our research talent and our researchers’ ability to find solutions to real-world problems. 

"This is an exciting time for universities to exploit interdisciplinary collaborations and partnerships, and demonstrate their pivotal influence on wider society," Professor Fisk said.

“Application numbers are perhaps understandably down in this first year of the ARC’s new continuous application process, but researchers will be aware of the need for timely submission under this scheme in order to forge much needed industry links.”

The successful UNSW Science projects are:

A team led by Dr David White in the School of Psychology received $510,000 to work with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to improve facial identification accuracy at a system level.

Reliable face identification is critical in security, police and judicial processes, and the project will inform policy in the recruitment, training and workflow design underpinning the secure issuance of Australian passports.

Expected outcomes of the project will include social and economic gains such as improved efficiency and reliability of key government services. The knowledge gained as a result of the project in perceptual and cognitive processes will strengthen legal systems and national security by minimising the risk of identification errors in critical roles.

A team led by Professor Charles Sorrell in the School of Materials Science and Engineering received $340,000 to work with TOPFIBRE PTY LTD to develop the means for fabricating single-crystal mullite fibres from topaz that are suitable for reinforcement of metal and ceramic matrix composites.

Single-crystal mullite is the most sought after fibrous additive, but is not available commercially. It is expected to attract an immediate clientele in laboratories and companies servicing the aviation industry and the military.

This would allow large deposits of topaz in the town of Torrington in northern NSW to be used to develop a high-value niche product, such as fibres, and a large-volume, low-value product, such as fluoride, to provide significant economic and environmental benefits.