Home > Why collaborating with academia is the way forward for engineering companies

Why collaborating with academia is the way forward for engineering companies

article image Frank Soto

Australian Consulting Engineers design and development company Soto Group advises private companies in the engineering sector to collaborate with academia and various technical development agencies and tap a lucrative business potential.

According to Managing Director, Mr Frank Soto, it 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 observes that Soto Group has taken stock of its core strengths and looks for ways to infuse this into emerging opportunities; it has moved into new areas such as collaboration with industry to help commercialise new technologies to market.

For instance, Soto Group does ‘return engineering’ for UniNSW wherein 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 – any segment that requires challenging engineering.

Mr Soto comments that the company supports local industry through the efforts of the i3Net Group in the Illawarra region but the focus remains nationwide to increase their collaboration through tertiary education channels as well as discover good engineers to enhance Soto Group’s own growth.

Soto Group has proactively developed relationships with tertiary education bodies as well as quasi-government agencies to fill in niches by offering suitable value propositions.

The highly respected body Engineers Australia, in its Innovation in Engineering Report June 2012, expresses 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.

The report also noted 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’. In other words, a strong focus 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 explains 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 distinct advantage. The company invests significantly in software and works closely with software developers to the level where predictive capabilities greatly reduce the risk. 

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