Australian design and development company Soto Group Pty Ltd has partnered with academic and technical institutions to help commercialise new technologies to market.

Urging private companies in the engineering sector to tap a lucrative business potential by becoming more involved with academia and other technical development bodies through ‘applied engineering’. Soto Group Managing Director Mr Frank Soto said that the collaboration should be initiated without waiting for government incentives.

Mr Soto explains that it all comes down to properly analysing one’s own capabilities and identifying ‘value propositions’ for universities and think tanks, followed by affirmative steps and dialogue with the institution. The Soto Group began by taking stock of its core strengths and looking for ways to infuse them into emerging opportunities in an increasingly globalised economy.

One way was through collaboration with academic institutions; for instance, Soto Group does ‘return engineering’ for UniNSW, where the company provides extensive engineering input to the university’s research studies and concepts, with thorough theoretical testing and analysis in the digital simulation environment. This is being done across many industries including mining, manufacturing, renewable energy and agriculture.

While the Soto Group supports the local industry through the efforts of the i3Net Group in the Illawarra region, the organisation’s focus remains nationwide as they increase their collaboration through the tertiary education channels while also discovering good engineers to enhance their own growth.

According to Mr Soto, the company has proactively developed relationships with tertiary education bodies as well as quasi-government agencies by offering suitable value propositions.

Soto’s timing is impeccable with a recent report by the highly respected Engineers Australia expressing concern over Australia’s limited level of innovation, and stating that the rate of growth in labour-constrained economies will ultimately fall to zero in the absence of sustained innovation.

The report also notes that ‘innovation can drive productivity improvement across all industrial sectors. Many industries essential to the economic growth of the country such as construction, mining, telecommunications and manufacturing require significant engineering’.

One can therefore deduce that focussed attention on engineered innovation in industries is the best way to increase productivity and contribute to the economic prosperity of the nation.

A recent Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Report titled ‘Strengthening Links between Industry and Public Sector Research Organisations’ made the following, powerful recommendation:

‘That mechanisms be put in place to capture the benefits of research and to direct research to problems of national importance including the support of those industries providing employment to Australians, especially emergent industries that will generate the next wave of employment.’

Mr Soto reiterates that having a ‘value proposition’ to give to a university such as UoW or UNSW and any other tertiary body or think tank is a major advantage.