New partnership encouraging innovation and regional economic growth takes flight

The University of Newcastle and Newcastle Airport have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that seeks to maximise opportunities to establish the Hunter region as an innovation leader in aviation, Defence and aerospace-related research, education and industry.

(L-R): Professor Ajayan Vinu, Vice-Chancellor Professor Alex Zelinksy AO, Chief Executive Officer of Newcastle Airport Dr Peter Cock in the nanotechnology lab
(L-R): Professor Ajayan Vinu, Vice-Chancellor Professor Alex Zelinksy AO, Chief Executive Officer of Newcastle Airport Dr Peter Cock in the nanotechnology lab

Focused on leveraging opportunities for collaboration, the MOU connects the University as the primary research partner with Newcastle Airport which is set to host a range of work integrated learning opportunities to support students. The goal is to help them to be job ready for future industries.

“We recognise the significant impact Newcastle Airport has in our region and we welcome the formalisation of this important relationship,” Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alex Zelinsky said.

“This partnership is an excellent example of the region’s University and local industry working in collaboration to drive regional economic growth and achieve global impact.”

Chief Executive Officer of Newcastle Airport, Dr Peter Cock, said with its leading academic background and regional ties, the University was a natural partner.

“Astra Aerolab has strong momentum and working closely with a tertiary partner of University of Newcastle’s calibre is essential in delivering the uplifting experience for the many business and thousands of individuals who will be working at the site.

“With the University’s ongoing focus and investment in innovation, this is a well aligned partnership which will provide the foundations at both a local and global level for students to not only qualify for roles in future industry but to succeed,” Dr Cock said.

Under the MOU, an Advisory Committee will investigate a range of opportunities, including the University to having a long-term presence at Astra Aerolab, a new precinct located on 76 hectares adjacent to the airport. Offering direct airside access, high amenity working environments and a curated experience for businesses and staff it is being developed as Australia’s pre-eminent space for innovation in aviation, Defence and aerospace related manufacturing, maintenance, research and education. Astra Aerolab is one of our region’s most important developments.

The University’s Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), Professor Deborah Hodgson, said the partnership is a fantastic avenue for the University to conduct quality research in a real-world context.

“We are very pleased to be able to engage through research and expand opportunities in the defence and aviation space,” Professor Hodgson said.

“We want our researchers and students to be intertwined with industry, working on challenges. Our relationship with Newcastle Airport will be a very positive step in that direction.”

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