The focus of the Sydney Innovation Central, one of nine such Cisco centres around the world, is ‘digital’ agriculture, smart cities, astronomy and how Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and solutions can do more with less. It is a research partnership between the University of New South Wales, the NSW Farmers Federation, National Farmers Federation, Data61, NSW Department of Primary Industries and ATP Innovations.
The new Sydney centre will combine with Cisco’s established centre in Perth, hubs at UNSW Kensington campus, and Adelaide’s Flinders University, and eight other centres in Rio de Janeiro, Toronto, Songdo, Berlin, Barcelona, Tokyo, London and Paris.
Innovation Central is located at ATP (Australian Technology Park) Innovations, a leading technology incubator and community of technology entrepreneurs.
Kevin Bloch, Chief Technology Officer at Cisco Australia and New Zealand led a panel of partners for a media briefing. To say Bloch is an evangelist for the IOT world would be an understatement. “Cisco has been ‘on’ IOT for over a decade. It knows that to harness the advantages people and processes must embrace automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning and cognitive research,” he said.
"Cisco experts, together with industry partners and ecosystem startups, will develop proof-of-concepts, features and functionalities and do rapid prototyping. Innovation Central will incorporate dedicated space to demonstrate IoT in action and open areas where customers, startups, open communities, researchers, entrepreneurs and technology enthusiasts are afforded an environment to develop new ideas and technologies," he said.
“Cisco spends about $6B per year on R&D and it has been a very acquisitive company – investing more than $2.5B in start-ups. It now wants to invest and co-develop via these innovation centres to grow the IOT market, catch up, and importantly get ahead.” he said.
Cisco is investing A$15 million over five years. Addition funding comes from it supplying full time staff, partner contributions, and other project specific funding.
The official opening was performed by The Hon. Niall Blair MLC, Minister for Primary Industries, Lands and Water. “The NSW Government is determined to increase the value of primary industries and drive economic growth right across the state. In order to do this, we know we need to work closely with industry and to focus on digital transformation taking place in all sectors not only in Australia but globally. Innovation Central is an ideal mechanism to drive the transformation of our Primary Industries in NSW,” he said.
The initial partners include:
Data61 - Adrian Turner, CEO, “As the leading ICT research organisation in Australia, we see our foundational partnership in Innovation Central as an opportunity to build and extend relationships in the local and global IoT ecosystem. It will also facilitate deeper collaboration and high impact outcomes with Cisco and other partners around our cyber security and data analytics research. This aligns well with Data61’s strategy of building an Applied Data Research Network to help create new technology-based industries for Australia in domains where we have competitive advantage, and cement our position as a global leader in the next wave of computing. Our strength industries are the ones that stand to benefit most from IoT.”
UNSW - Professor Mark Hoffman, Dean of Engineering: "As the leading engineering institution in Australia, we know that Innovation Central – and the Cisco Innovation Hub at the UNSW campus – will strengthen linkages between industry and the research sector. It will enable Internet of Things and cyber security research to be undertaken by postgrads and undergrads that will also lead to new businesses, jobs and careers in the field.”
National Farmers’ Federation - Simon Talbot, CEO: “NFF is the national body representing farmers and agriculture across Australia. Australian agriculture is entering a new growth phase and is likely to generate $1.2 trillion between now and 2030, while this year alone, agriculture is predicted to reap a record farm-gate return of $57.6 billion. We need to reposition agriculture as an industry not of the past, but of the future with a flourishing culture of entrepreneurialism and innovation. Innovation Central is an ideal opportunity to accelerate the digitization of Australian agriculture and help the industry seize the vast growth opportunities before it.”
NSW Farmers - Matt Brand, CEO: “NSW Farmers is a leader in digital innovation in agriculture and is driving collaborations between digital providers and producers across all sectors. Advances in technology across sensor tech, automation, digital logistics and marketing make this an exciting time for our industry. The IoT is critical to enabling data driven approaches to production and to optimizing sustainability, profitability and quality assurance. Our participation in the Centre is about accelerating adoption by our members and helping to ensure that developers understand operational requirements as we seek to close the gap between farmers and their customers. We see digital innovation as central to our competitive advantage in export markets and to authenticating the quality of Australian food and fibre products.”
ATP Innovations - Hamish Hawthorn, CEO: “ATP Innovations partners with technology-based start-ups and entrepreneurs to help them grow, achieve success and find investment through the support of personalised assistance and mentoring. Hosting Innovation Central inside our incubator will add value to existing and future portfolio companies and provide a dynamic link between start-ups, industry and research that will be the first of its kind in Australia”