NICTA’s Industry-research collaborations

NICTA’s Perfect Match event spotlighted Research Excellence in ICT, and the research sector-Industry partnerships that have formed. The four industry-research collaborations highlighted current research in the use of big data, the importance of good communication skills in collaborating, and the board interesting and unique solutions that can come from these partnerships.

Talk #1

Ben Spincer (Director of Technology Strategy and Innovation, Telstra) and Professor Chris Leckie (Deputy Lab Director, NICTA Victoria and Professor, Department of Computing & Information Systems, The University of Melbourne). Talked generally about their partnership and the important elements they discovered in the process.

The different in time-frames for reporting where a business will need regular timely reports each week to know the current state of the business. Research needs a longer time frame, so that the time can be spend on the exploration of problem, the design of possible solutions, the development of prototypes (either software or hardware), and the evaluation of the solutions. All of which is the Problem Solving Methodology applied to the real world.

To build a good working relationship both organisations need Open Communications, Similar Interests and objectives. Even from a common ground the message is not always communicated clearly. So a process to back & forth emerges where each side articulates what the project is about. However, people can’t always describe what they want, but can describe what they don’t., until after a number of cycles they agree on the true objective (ie what they really want)

With Big Data there is the challenge of privacy vs the possibility of what you can do with it. The randomisation of personal data

Product Development from an IT failures perspective

Product Development from an IT failures perspective

Talk #2

Ruby O’Rourke (CEO, HubCare) and Colin Griffith (Strategic Adviser, Broadband and the Digital Economy, NICTA) Are developing a game changer, in terms of integrating multiple government services (Health, Welfare, Community support, Social Services) to allow the connecting of government with it’s citizens and vice-versa.

They did raise some point that I’ve mentioned above, and here are some of the other points;

  • The maintaining of privacy for all citizens while continuing to provide needed services.
  • The use of specialist teams across multiple locations.
  • Applying research opportunities to the front line of society.

Talk #3

Brian Sloan (ANZLIC Secretariat, Spatial Policy Brand, Department of Communications) and Peter Leihn (Director, Security and Environment, NICTA). They outlined an open source software project that collects the Victorian government open data and displays it on a ‘spinning globe’. From the stand point of there is an economic benefit from open data, but they needed to build a vision of it. Similar projects have been build in collaboration with Google for three other states (QLD, WA, & NSW), but the open source solution was cheaper and free from potential problems with Google.

Government wanted a 12 month feasibility study for of giving the go ahead, but they avoided that by working with NICTA and completed a working prototype for proof of concept with 3 months. The next objective is to incorporate the other states and all three tiers of government, then to move onto data analytics.

Check out National Map Project, which takes data from

Tallk #4

Larissa Andriske (Occupational Therapist, Barwon Health) and Associate Professor Pubudu Pathirana (Deakin University) the final talk was about 5 projects design to assist rerehabilitation and self management with technology. these included virtual, remote physiotherapy and a project that concentrates on motion system analysis that analyses gait (walking).

Here the challenge was to make the designers and developers of the technology understand the needs of the therapists and the patents. So the therapies became a technical problems for the researchers.

Questions & Answers

Concerning Time-frames on projects. Agile Software Development is being applied to research to make it more responsive. Universities tend to have long lead times for their projects.

About Geospacial Data in time. There is or will be a slider for historical datasets as part of the process to enable predictive analytics (ie future projections). They used a super computer that processed data on tapes that would normal take 8 years in 2 – 3 days. (wow!)

NICTA have note been involved in any partnerships with the Manufacturing sector, but they did mention META, the Manufacturing Excellence Taskforce of Australia.

Concerning Start-ups and new companies. how do they connect with researchers. NICTA has done a little thinking in this direction, and they have few rules to allow adaptability. There is also the state startup scheme, however, a search of Business Victoria and Grants Victoria provided no extra information. Although Grant Finder (,, and this article from 2012, 10 top government grants for start-ups may provide some useful information or promising leads.


What is true for business is also true for student collaborations. So for ICT education it means that;

  • Collaboration is built on effective communication skills. The client’s true desires or objective are not always present in the design brief or case study. This helps in building a clear vision
  • Both sides of the partnership need to be aware of the needs and requirements of the other. For example reporting time frames.
  • Unexpected result can emerge from partnerships. So it’s not worth starting to a predefined plan in hand.
  • The applications of Big Data are wide and varied, but concerns such as privacy must be addressed.
  • These examples provide insight into business collabroation and can be used for student case studies