Academic endeavours: NBN Co to collaborate with unis on new tech

We're working with two leading universities to collaborate on developing new technologies.

NBN Co has announced research & development (R&D) relationships with two of the leaders in Australia’s higher-education sector, the University of Melbourne (UoM) and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

NBN Co's partnership with UTS and UoM form an initial phase of a program of work that will see the three organisations benefit through shared learning, projects, talent and research.

The University of Melbourne (UoM).

For each university, NBN Co has committed funding over three years to further our collaborative efforts.

We have agreed to take this path with UoM and UTS to support cutting-edge work that may well uncover the next big innovation in Australia’s history of technological innovation.

We have identified a series of overarching areas that we intend to investigate together. Just a small sample of these could include:

  • Internet of Things
  • smart cities and connectivity
  • programmable networks
  • research and development (R&D) collaboration
  • cyber security for networks
  • future workforce capabilities

Universities are big supporters of diversity across their sector and, in particular, increasing the participation of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

This is also a focus area for NBN Co and, indeed, the telecommunications industry more broadly as we work to embed more diverse thinking and opportunities for everybody in the technology space.

Therefore, the connection with universities is a natural extension of the role NBN Co plays in the community and is very much aligned to our values and mission in connecting the nation.

University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

In the field of R&D, we have another natural overlap with these two institutions as we all have an interest in bringing new technologies to market that will positively impact people’s lives. In addition, UTS and UoM are leaders in their respective states in developing new and emerging ideas in the technology sector.

Some of the technologies we might investigate include those that are being used across the nbn™ broadband access network already. An example of this would be our existing work looking at artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning that we are using in our Tech Lab environment.

These particular technologies are being used to improve the experiences people are having when interacting with us. By working with universities on these exciting technologies, we expect to begin to develop a richer understanding of how we can use capabilities, such as AI, in different ways.

There are a lot of bright minds across our company who are eager to know how things could be different in the future – or, indeed, the present – and who are keen to collaborate with the best and brightest from the academic world.

Bringing new ideas and a real-world lens to a program of research is always a big benefit to any project, so there are clear benefits for NBN Co, UoM and UTS with these agreements.

We will now begin a series of discussions to establish the main focus areas for the next 12 to 18 months so that we can find the projects that have benefits to not only NBN Co and these universities but also to those who are using the nbn™ access network.

It is my firm view that we are on the precipice of a very exciting technological chapter in Australia. This is something that can only be helped substantially by NBN Co – operating one of the biggest infrastructure projects in our country’s history – joining forces with leaders in our academic community such as UoM and UTS.