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R&D refocus needed, Institute says

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Australia needs to focus more attention on designing and developing new technology rather than just reselling it, the Telecommunications and IT Research Institute (TITR) has said.

With many companies pulling out of direct presences in Australia, local SMEs have an opportunity to pick up the slack and get involved in research centre projects to foster R&D growth, according to TITR managing director Professor Darrell Williamson.

“To a large extent we have been receivers of finished products more than we’ve been involved in their design and development,” Williamson said.

“What we need is for more Australian companies to get involved in the development of new technologies, not just in their resale.”

Williamson expressed concern about the difficulty of attracting SMEs to participate in research projects such as TITR and the Smart Internet Technology CRC, of which TITR is a core partner.

“There is a small flagfall for SMEs to become involved but the benefits include the possibility of getting involved in product development with the major players and identifying current trends, which can help them shape their business plans,” Williamson said.

Both Motorola and Telstra are key commercial partners in the CRC, and have a long history of involvement with TITR.

Major research programs of TITR include networking (both wireless and fixed), multimedia delivery and security, and interactive e-learning.

Williamson identified a key focus of the Institute’s activities as enabling ‘anywhere anytime’ communication through the creation of ad hoc networks.

“The University of Wollongong was also the first in Australia to establish a campus-wide WiFi network,” Williamson continued.

“The development of smart sensor technologies is really going to drive the rollout of wireless both in Australia and worldwide.”

Sydney-based Madry Technologies is one company using a wireless-enabled smart sensor to track patients after heart surgery for signs of irregular heart rhythm that may lead to stroke.

That system, the prototype of which is being developed for Westmead Hospital, will see doctors warned of any irregularities via their mobile phone or wireless LAN.

More information: http://www.titr.uow.edu.au/ and http://www.smartinternet.com.au/

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