Innovation Fellow Program supports entrepreneurial staff

Monday 25 March 2019

The renovated Fire Station building at Swinburne’s Hawthorn campus

The Innovation Fellow program, driven by Swinburne’s Innovation Precinct (pictured), gives staff the time and resources to progress their startup ideas.

In summary

  • Three staff have received Innovation Fellowships with Swinburne’s Innovation Precinct
  • Fellows receive time and resources to work on their startup ideas
  • The Fellows represent each of Swinburne’s three faculties: Business and Law; Science, Engineering and Technology; and Health, Arts and Design

Three academics have been accepted into Swinburne’s Innovation Fellow Program, allowing them one day per week to work on their startup idea, and giving them access to masterclasses and mentoring.

This year’s Innovation Fellows are Dr Stephen Petrie, a data scientist in the Centre for Transformative Innovation, Daniel Prohasky an architectural engineering lecturer, and Dr Qiang He, a senior lecturer in the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering.

Swinburne’s three faculties are represented in the Innovation Fellowship program, presenting an opportunity for cross-discipline collaboration.

Streamlining data linking

Dr Stephen Petrie hopes to streamline data linking processes by developing a product capable of linking two separate datasets and identifying unique entities within a dataset, as well as a customer-facing website.

“Current record linking algorithms on the market require a partial sample of the data to be manually labelled, which is a resource-intensive process.”

“The project I am developing doesn’t require manually-labelled data to be generated, resulting in time and money saved for the client,” he says.

Dr Petrie’s product will allow customers to load their datasets to the website where the algorithm will perform record linking and customers can download the linked dataset.

As an Innovation Fellow, Dr Petrie plans to investigate possible open source neural networks to form the base of the digital product, and to develop a prototype version of the linking algorithm and website.

Eliminating formwork waste

Daniel Prohasky’s project aims to reduce the cost and complexity of building complex curved forms.

He is a co-inventor on a collaborative research project called the Parametric Adjustable Mould, which is a robotic formwork that can be used to create variable-shaped, curved, concrete panels, eliminating formwork waste.

The research has been stress tested under multiple business models and is ready to continue its startup journey with the assistance of the Innovation Precinct.

“The beautifully curved panels we’ve created are ideal for building construction in the Industry 4.0 era, where waste reduction and sustainability are critical,” he says.

“The technology enables a more efficient way of fabricating curved, concrete panels through increased levels of automation, with decreased labour, in an otherwise arduous and dangerous profession.”

Improving mobile apps

Dr Qiang He hopes to discover a suitable business model for his prototype LibFinder, which aims to recommend potentially useful third-party libraries to mobile app developers for improving their apps.

“The product is useful for mobile app developers and vendors around the world. LibFinder will save mobile app developers a lot of time and effort in the search for these libraries,” he says.

By participating in the program, Dr He plans to develop LibFinder further, so that it is user-friendly and can be promoted to all mobile app developers.

Swinburne’s innovation ecosystem

Driven by the Swinburne Innovation Precinct, the program aims to support Swinburne’s innovation ecosystem.

Dr John Morrison, Executive Director of the Innovation Precinct, says academics and professional staff are well positioned to innovate and develop startups with impact, if provided with the time and resources.

Visit the Swinburne Innovation Precinct website for information about innovation at Swinburne and the Innovation Fellowship program.