Share in our research expertise for the benefit of everyone

One of my missions as Vice-Chancellor of UNSW is to nurture a collaborative culture in our institution. That may be across faculties, with other universities, with government, with public services or with industry – within Australia and beyond.

Universities by their very nature are hubs of knowledge that are fortunate to have Australian and global experts employed as teachers and researchers. We are a resource waiting to be used.

I am on record as saying there needs to be greater incentives for industry to partner with publicly funded research institutes. I have suggested a collaboration premium on top of the Commonwealth government’s R&D Tax Incentive and a future fund to assist in the translation of non-medical research to complement the Medical Research Future Fund.

Too often, the word researcher conjures up just an image of a scientist in a lab coat holding a test tube, engaged in basic discovery work. We have many brilliant scientists of this type and they are an essential part of the discovery-translation-application-commercialisation pipeline. But they are just one part of our university’s research capacity. 

Many of our leading researchers are at the cutting-edge of applying research findings and, in recent months, UNSW experts have been called upon to give evidence-based advice in the public domain on subjects as diverse as Brexit, engineering, the environment, and the Australian Constitution. 

'We must be an active participant in our local, national and global communities'


But we also excel in an area which may not necessarily attract enormous media attention, despite its importance. And that is business research. 

Collaboration on research between universities and business is underdeveloped across the university sector generally and UNSW is keen to see that change.

UNSW Business School has more runs on the collaborative board than many institutions, through work supported via linkage grants, industry projects, case studies and by providing expert input at the highest levels, both in Australia and across the Asia-Pacific. 

The advice of our researchers has consistently proved influential in policy-making decisions.

Professors from our Business School, for example, have performed collaborative research resulting in a more accurate measure of the consumer price index and savings for taxpayers; have been integral in improving and designing auditing standards; and are doing ground-breaking work that is informing ageing, retirement and superannuation policy.

We have also had UNSW Business School academics lending their expertise to such topical issues as the Banking Royal Commission, negative gearing and capital gains tax, and the development of the tax imputation system.

To have such expertise within our Business School means it is one of the best, not just in Australia, but globally.

In recent QS World University Rankings, UNSW’s business and management studies remained among the top 30 in the world, and economics and econometrics remained steady in 31st place.

The School of Accounting was number 15 globally in the QS rankings and has maintained its position as number one in Australia. 

Professor Roger Simnett, who leads research and teaches in the financial accounting and auditing areas, was the first academic ever to be appointed to the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board.

But we know that to remain at the top of our game, and to attract the partnerships with industry that are essential for the wellbeing and progress of our society and our economy, we must be even more accessible and effective. 

One initiative, to streamline the collaborative process – an innovative 'Sandbox' methodology that addresses the research-practice divide – has been developed by the Business School's Digital Enablement Research Network (DERN), led by professor Shan-Ling Pan. 

By beginning with the end-user's interests, even analysing their data sets, and employing an ongoing process of fine-tuning, this method ensures collaboration is efficient and results-driven.

This is an exciting development and one I encourage you to read more about in this edition of BusinessThink.

One of the core values of UNSW is to make a positive impact on society, whether through education or research. To do that, we must be an active participant in our local, national and global communities.

If you have been reading this online business journal during its five-year lifespan, you will know that BusinessThink has provided a bridge of information from UNSW Business School to industry, policy-makers and society generally.

I am delighted that this new, expanded form of BusinessThink will strive to emphasise collaborative research opportunities and partnerships with our Business School, with its unrivalled depth and breadth of business knowledge. I invite our colleagues in business to tap into it.


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