Our people

A lot of outstanding people contribute to the Innovation Precinct including:


Anita Kocsis

As director of DFM since 2013, Associate Professor Anita Kocsis is at the forefront of industry and university co-creation.

She drives the impact of global relevance through research and design-led innovation. As a leader in a global network, she has spearheaded projects with major Australian and international companies to solve complex problems and generate innovative solutions.

Dr Kocsis has also spent many years researching the phenomenon of the visitor experience in interactive and immersive experiences for museums, galleries and the digital humanities.

Follow Design Factory Melbourne on Twitter: DF Melbourne

View Anita on LinkedIn


Bronwyn Fox

Professor Bronwyn Fox joined Swinburne University of Technology as the Director, Factory of the Future in December 2015.

Bronwyn is a recognised industry leader with over 15 years’ experience in composites and advanced manufacturing. Bronwyn was the Research Director at Deakin’s Carbon Nexus facility, working with international teams to develop new approaches for carbon fibre production.

At Swinburne, Bronwyn is translating her industrial research knowhow to the development of a new Industry 4.0 manufacturing capability which will focus on the challenging automation processes associated with the construction and curing of composite structures.

Follow Bronwyn on Twitter: @bronfox

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Aleks Subic

Professor Aleks Subic is Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Development).

He is internationally recognised for his research in engineering product design and advanced manufacturing. He is one of the founders of the discipline of sports engineering.

In April 2016 Aleks was appointed to the Prime Minister’s Industry 4.0 Taskforce. He joins other notable members; Jeff Connolly, Chairman and CEO of Siemens Australia, John Ruthven, President and Managing Director SAP Australia and New Zealand, John Pollaers, Chairman of Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council, Stephen Durkin, CEO of Engineers Australia and Keith McLean, Director CSIRO Manufacturing

View Aleks on LinkedIn

"Industry 4.0 is all about the next stage in manufacturing driven by digitisation. Automation and the Internet of Things are transforming the manufacturing industry, presenting us with new business opportunities through integration with the global supply chain… We will be looking to find ways of building on Australia's National Science and Innovation Agenda to advance our innovation capability in advanced manufacturing."
Prof Aleksandar Subic


Matthew Cuthbertson

Professor Matthew Cuthbertson sits on the Swinburne Ventures Board, is a Swinburne Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Development, Innovation and Commercialisation) and has oversight of the Innovation Precinct activities.

He is a 2003 recipient of Centenary of Federation Medal for his contribution to applied research and technological innovation in Australia.

Before joining Swinburne, he was Deputy PVC Research & Innovation at RMIT. His career includes CEO roles at CRC for Advanced Automotive Technology and CRC for Sensor Signal and Information Processing, Vice President Research and Technology at SOLA International and roles at CSIRO and ICI Australia.

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Christine Thong

Associate Professor Christine Thong is Academic Director at Design Factory Melbourne, part of the Global Design Factory Network. At the intersection of academia and industry, she mentors student teams in international, interdisciplinary collaboration projects.

Christine currently leads Swinburne's participation in Stanford University's ME310 Design Innovation program. The emphasis is on using innovation process and mind-set to provide meaningful solutions for company problems.

Christine has worked with a range of SME's, start-ups and large corporations from Australia and abroad. Christine's research explores combining (product) design and (material) science for commercial outcomes relevant and beneficial to society. Her collaboration activities extend to programs connected internationally to CERN and nationally to CSIRO

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Dan Hunter

Professor Dan Hunter is the Foundation Dean of Swinburne Law School. He is an international expert in intellectual property and internet law, and regularly publishes on the theory of intellectual property and on the intersection of computers and law.

He is the author of books on gamification, intellectual property, and intelligent legal systems, and the author of numerous articles on intellectual property and internet law. His main research involves cultural histories of intellectual property in the postwar period, including work on Lego bricks, Barbie dolls, recipes, and luxury handbags. In his spare time he is one of the developers of Quitch, a mobile platform that is transforming higher education.


Naomi Birdthistle

Dr Naomi Birdthistle is an Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Swinburne. Naomi has taught extensively at post-graduate, MBA and executive level and has been a visiting Professor at Aalto University for over a decade.

She has taught entrepreneurship and family business management at the University of Limerick, Ireland for over 15 years and as a visiting Professor to St. Petersburg University; Wisconsin University - Eau Claire and the University of Ghent, Belgium. Her research includes entrepreneurship education, family business management and high growth firms.

An award-winning teacher and researcher, Naomi has won a teaching excellence award, and her Ph.D. thesis was recognised for its outstanding academic achievement in the field of family business study, by the Family Firm Institute by being awarded the 'Best Doctoral Dissertation Award'.

View Naomi on LinkedIn


John Morrison

Dr John Morrison is Executive Director of the Innovation Precinct, bringing more than 15 years of experience in industry research engagement and commercialisation. Dr Morrison was formerly Director of Research Translation at Monash University. He has been instrumental in setting up high-impact startups and joint ventures both in Australia and internationally. Dr Morrison’s past roles have included COO of the Monash FODMAP venture, business lead on the Monash eHealth Initiative and Pfizer alliance, Head of Business Development at Benitec Ltd, and Chief Scientific Officer for CopyRat and Biocomm Services. He completed his PhD at the University of Melbourne and has a Masters of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Swinburne.


Elicia Wong

Dr Elicia Wong is Director of Research Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the Innovation Precinct. Dr Wong was previously Chief Scientific Officer at Sensor Innovations Inc. and Chief Technology Officer at Elemental Machines Inc. in Silicon Valley. She brings 10 years of experience as a tech entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, having been involved in several successful startups. After completing a PhD at the University of New South Wales, Dr Wong took on a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Oxford University, followed by further innovation management and commercialisation training at Stanford University. Her research at Oxford led to the commercialisation of her novel biosensor and bioreactor technologies, for which she set up a spin-out company in Silicon Valley.

Dr Wong will oversee the Entrepreneur in Residence Program – a mentoring program for staff and students across Swinburne, focused on bringing established entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley to Melbourne.


Swinburne’s Innovation Precinct groups have worked with these leading organisations on various projects.

  • Auto CRC/Excellerate Australia
  • BodyICE
  • Bondi Labs
  • Defence Materials Technology Centre
  • Eon Reality
  • Futuris
  • Imagine Intelligent Materials
  • MedCorp
  • MHG Asia Pacific
  • Sandvik Coromant
  • Thermo Fisher Scientific Australia
  • Visy

Academic Fellows

Academic fellows are appointed via a competitive application process and retain their appointment for 1 year. The role focusses on:

  • mentoring students
  • providing technical expertise and guidance to startup groups
  • collaborating with external partners through workshops and accelerator and incubators activities.

Being an Innovation Precinct academic fellow provides valuable professional skills and mentoring development opportunities. Fellows are also supported to explore and test possible commercial outcomes from existing research.

The following talented individuals will be sharing their skills and knowledge with us and our partners in 2017:

  • Mr James Berrett
  • Associate Professor Naomi Birdthistle
  • Dr Diana Bossio
  • Associate Professor Philip Branch
  • Dr Yvonne Durandet
  • Dr Justin Leontini
  • Dr Chris McCarthy
  • Dr Mark Merolli
  • Dr Grainne Oates
  • Dr Paul Scifleet

Industry fellows

As part of our commitment to tangible industry engagement and connection, the Precinct will invite select industry partners to apply to become Industry Fellows. As an adjunct appointment the role will last for 1 year and involves:

  • mentoring startup groups
  • participation in precinct workshops and accelerator and incubator activities.

This valuable appointment provides Industry Fellows with the opportunity undertake their own challenge project in collaboration with Swinburne students and researchers. It also provides access to project prototyping capabilities and precinct facilities.


The Swinburne Innovation Precinct has its front door at the Fire Station but it encompasses the entire university, drawing together expertise from across all of our academic disciplines and fostering a culture of innovation.


An external Advisory Board provides strategic advice around the Precinct Plan and activities and engagement with industry, business and government.

  • Elaine Sanders – Chair
  • Rohini Kappadath
  • Jacqui Savage
  • Alexander Gosling
  • Stuart Elliott
  • Richard Simpson
  • Debra Yin Foo
  • Sudhir Pai
  • Jane Ward
  • Aleksandar Subic
  • Jenni Lightowlers

Our Executive Committee oversees the Innovation Precinct strategy and performance.

Our Management Committee oversees the implementation of the Precinct Plan and operational management of the IP and establishing and strengthening connections with Swinburne’s research institutes, research centres and faculties. It is also responsible for stakeholder engagement and connections with university staff and students and industry and business.