Monash UniversityTechnology platforms

Technology platforms

Collaboration taken to a new level

Specialist technology platforms strengthen Monash University’s pioneering reputation in biotechnology research.

Monash University’s investment in world-class research infrastructure is ramping up industry collaboration and creating an ecosystem for breakthrough technology inventions.

Under the leadership of Professor Ian Smith, Monash’s Vice-Provost for Research and Research Infrastructure, 24 technology research platforms have been created by combining the university’s research infrastructure and expertise in a specific technology discipline into a single brand and business unit. 

“The platform network has been a game-changer for how Monash collaborates with industry,” Professor Smith says. “Industry now has a central point for collaboration in any specific technology area, and the university has more capability to deliver a high-quality, timely, responsive service.”

A decade in the making, the platforms specialise in, among other areas, gene sequencing and characterisation, proteomics, antibody characterisation and production, animal models and services, flow cytometry, a plethora of imaging platforms (from single molecules through to human and whole-animal imaging), informatics and biostatistical analysis, drug discovery and design, and engineering. Monash is also a partner in a number of national research infrastructure networks. High-end data storage, curation, processing and distribution underpin all the platforms.

The program has helped Monash reinforce its pioneering reputation in life sciences research, and it secured the most health and medical research grants of any Australian organisation in 2014. It’s also acknowledged as a global leader in medical-device engineering and technology, and its research on monoclonal antibodies, through the Monash Antibody Technologies Facility, is attracting worldwide interest.

Professor Smith says the platform strategy is a vital conduit between Monash University research and industry collaboration and commercialisation. “Leading researchers are attracted to the platforms because of their facilities, networks and focus. Industry is attracted because it can access a one-stop shop, and a seamless research service across the university.” 

Running each platform as a separate, branded business unit is vital, Professor Smith says. “We want our research to have a real impact in the community. To do so, we had to make it easier for business to collaborate with us. Each platform has dedicated management, governance and oversight, meaning they can make decisions quickly and create solutions for industry.”

Access to leading research facilities is another strength. Monash is the largest user of the Australian Synchrotron, opposite the university’s Clayton campus in Melbourne, which it utilises in areas ranging from material science to structural biology and drug design.

Professor Smith says the research platforms are ideally located in an ecosystem of technology research at Clayton. The precinct is also home to CSIRO’s Clayton site, the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication, the Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) for Polymers, and one of Australia’s largest teaching hospitals, the Monash Medical Centre. A number of life science companies are also in the area, including the highly successful Small Technologies Cluster (STC), an incubator for new companies in the life science space. “Our research platforms are in a vibrant area for medical research and next-door to many of our partners and collaborators,” Professor Smith says.     

Technology companies are clearly attracted to Monash’s research strategy. More than two dozen life sciences companies are working with the 24 platforms. They range from global giants such as Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and Siemens, to large and small ASX-listed life sciences companies and private enterprises.

Professor Smith says there is huge potential to create a powerful ecosystem of medical technology research across Monash University, the Australian life sciences sector, and with global research institutions and pharmaceutical companies. He wants the platforms to have even closer ties with industry, for Monash to have deeper links with other research bodies, and to develop on-site industry incubators for researchers to spin out and commercialise ideas.

“Like other universities, we need our research to be funded and to develop strong links with industry. But the platforms are not just about generating revenue for the university. Ultimately, they are about generating opportunities for our researchers to work with more of the best people in their field, here and overseas, and across industry, on the best ideas.”

See the full list of our research platforms.

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