China’s Torch Program Launches US$77 Million Australian Precinct

The US$77 million Torch Innovation Precinct at the University of New South Wales is the first such partnership outside of China.

AsianScientist (Apr. 28, 2016) – The Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang have unveiled an unprecedented A$100 million (~US$77 million) innovation partnership that will deliver a major boost in research and development funding, through a new science and technology precinct at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

The new Torch Innovation Precinct at UNSW is the first such partnership outside China. It is backed by leading Chinese companies and the Ministry of Science & Technology’s flagship Torch high technology industry development program.

An initial A$30 million (US$22.76 million) investment has been secured by eight Chinese companies to support Australian research in Australia in advanced materials, biotechnology, energy, and environmental engineering.

“This partnership is a global first and has the potential to reset the Australia-China bilateral relationship and boost the nation’s innovation system,” UNSW president and vice-chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs said.

“This is about future proofing our national competitiveness by strategically positioning Australia, as China becomes the world’s largest investor in R&D and the 21st century’s science and technology superpower.”

Since 1988, China’s Torch program has been successfully collocating Chinese businesses, universities and research organisations in science and technology precincts to drive innovation.

Independent economic modelling by Deloitte Access Economics estimated the new Torch Innovation Precinct at UNSW would add more than A$1 billion (US$0.77 billion) to Australia’s GDP in the first ten years alone.

“The Torch partnership is an important milestone in the further development of Sydney as Australia’s global innovation city, and in ensuring that university research generates even greater economic impact and social progress,” Jacobs said.

The first group of UNSW Torch industry partners will initially set up incubator spaces on the Kensington campus in close proximity to researchers and a growing community of student entrepreneurs. Investment is expected to build to AU$100 million (US$77 million), enabling the construction of a new purpose-built, globally connected UNSW innovation precinct by 2025.

“The statistics are staggering. In China, Torch zones are home to over 50,000 tenant companies and invest RMB 347 billion (US$53.39 billion) in R&D,” said Mr. Laurie Pearcey, UNSW’s international executive director and former chief executive of the Australia China Business Council.

“The OECD forecasts China will overtake the US as the world’s largest investor in R&D by 2019—this is a major shift in the global knowledge economy and Australia must be strategically positioned.

“As mining investment contracts and commodity prices cool, Australia has an opportunity to leverage its world-class universities, the tens of thousands of Chinese students studying here and our strong links to Asia to meet the challenges of the ideas boom.”


Source: University of New South Wales.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Asian Scientist Magazine is an award-winning science and technology magazine that highlights R&D news stories from Asia to a global audience. The magazine is published by Singapore-headquartered Wildtype Media Group.

Related Stories from Asian Scientist