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
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