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The BHERT Awards for Australian University Collaboration

2018 BHERT Awards: A Review

In 2018, the BHERT Awards for outstanding collaboration with and by Australian universities and higher education institutions celebrate their 21st year – and have truly come of age.

The Awards are well-recognized as the pre-eminent recognition of university partnerships, but also act as a barometer of industry-university collaboration in Australia.

The 2018 Awards demonstrate that Australian industry-university and university-community partnerships are becoming the norm, and are reaching into every aspect of Australian activity. As indicated by the Department of Industry’s National Survey of Research Commercialisation (2017) and the Universities Australia analysis (Clever Collaborations, 2018), partnerships involving universities are numerous, growing, and productive:

BHERT’s Awards have had a record number of Applications, with 79; the highest number in the core categories since inception. These came from 30 Universities, and involve over 200 companies, community institutions, government bodies and other organisations.

 Research and Development Collabortion Awards Applications

R&D and technology commercialisation partnerships supported by universities have proliferated over the last two decades, and continue to grow. An important feature is the growth of partnerships with university spinout companies, with the universities making intellectual property available and promoting flexibility for students and academics.

 Education and Training Collabortion Awards Applications

Higher education and training partnerships are long-established in key professions such as healthcare, engineering, and social sciences. These are now evolving into sophisticated and highly impactful Work-Integrated-Learning (WIL) programs and internship and placement structures, many designed to meet the disparate needs of rapidly-evolving and digitized workplaces.

 Community Engagement Collabortion Awards Applications

Over the last 20 years, universities have become more active in community engagement, reaching out to play important roles in their cities and regions. Partnerships have addressed local issues and delivered outstanding results.

 Non-economic Benefit Collabortion Awards Applications

Partnerships and collaborations have also formed to address non-economic benefits at regional and national scale, addressing environmental, biodiversity, indigenous population, and mental health challenges.

The analysis also demonstrates a fundamental shift in the kinds of collaborative activities undertaken by universities over the last 20 years. In 1998, 54% of the Projects submitted were in R&D, either directly between a university and a company, or via a Cooperative Research Centre (CRC). The majority of the balance (41%) were in Higher Education collaborations.

1998 University Collaborations

2018 University Collaborations

In 2018, the portfolio of activities has changed significantly. R&D related collaborations now comprise only 29% of the projects, Higher Education Collaborations have reduced to 34%, and Community Engagement and Social (Non-Economic) Impact projects now comprise the largest share, with 37%.

This shift reflects a changed role for universities over the last 20 years: a concerted effort to participate in and contribute to the communities in which universities are located.

From these 79 projects, a shortlist of 30 were invited to submit full Applications, which were assessed by an expert Panel assembled by BHERT. The Winners of the BHERT Awards were announced at the Gala Awards Dinner in Melbourne on November 13th.

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