Australian engineering design consultant and R&D company Soto Consulting says greater collaboration should be initiated between private companies in the engineering sector and universities to benefit the large scale engineering sectors.
Private companies can tap a lucrative business potential by becoming more involved with universities and other technical development bodies through ‘return engineering’ without waiting for government incentives.
Managing Director, Mr Frank Soto observes 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.
He explains that Soto has taken stock of its core strengths in an increasingly global market, and is looking for ways to infuse this into emerging opportunities including moving into new areas such as collaboration with universities and development bodies to help bring new technologies to market.
The Soto group does ‘return engineering’ for UniNSW where the company comes in with extensive engineering input to the university’s industrial concepts and design drawings, with thorough theoretical testing and analysis in the digital environment. This is being done across many industries including mining, manufacturing, public works and agriculture.
Soto supports the local industry through the efforts of the i3net in the Illawarra region but also focuses nationally, as the company - through the tertiary education channels - not only increases their collaboration but also discovers good engineers to enhance their own growth.
The timing could not have been more apt. Only recently, in its Innovation in Engineering Report June 2012, the highly respected body Engineers Australia identified concerns over Australia’s limited level of innovation, stating that in the absence of sustained innovation, the rate of growth in labour-constrained economies will ultimately fall to zero.
It went on to note 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’.
Tellingly, it is a strong statement that focusing on engineered innovation in industries is the best way to increase productivity and contribute to the economic prosperity of the nation.
This has not been missed at the Federal Government level either. 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 comments that their advantage is having a ‘value proposition’ to give to a university like UniNSW and any other tertiary body or think tank.
Soto invests considerable revenues in software and works closely with software developers to the level where productive capabilities are so close to reality that the risk is greatly reduced. With the support of software suppliers as innovation partners of Soto Group, not only are their designs more detailed than average, they are prepared quickly rather than slowly and always tested in great detail.