Swinburne innovation recognised at global awards

Friday 17 January 2020

TOM Uni Editorial 5

Swinburne’s TOM@University program brings together makers, engineers, designers, innovators and students with ‘need-knowers’ to solve problems for people with disabilities.

In summary

  • Swinburne has been recognised as a global leader in entrepreneurship and engagement in higher education at 2020 Asia-Pacific Triple E Awards
  • Swinburne’s TOM@University won the Innovation Challenge of the Year category
  • Swinburne’s Innovation Precinct Hub named First Runner-up for Innovation and Collaboration Space of the Year
  • Swinburne was a finalist in the Engaged University of the Year award

Swinburne has received global recognition as a leader in engagement and entrepreneurship at the inaugural 2020 Asia-Pacific Triple E Entrepreneurship and Engagement Excellence Awards in Higher Education held in Kochi, India. 

Swinburne’s TOM@University program won the Innovation Challenge of the Year category, while the Swinburne Fire Station – Swinburne’s Innovation Hub – was named first runner-up for Innovation and Collaboration Space of the Year. Swinburne was also a finalist in the Engaged University of the Year award.  

The TOM@University program is a partnership between a global philanthropic organisation, TOM (Tikkun Olam Makers), interdisciplinary student teams within Swinburne and ‘Need-Knowers’ to create affordable solutions for people with disabilities. 

Solutions to date include an automatic wheelchair cleaning station, a bowling ball-launching device, a dog walking solution for a quadruple amputee, a pickup stick, flotation suit and anchorage for hydrotherapy, and a cleaning and storage-unit for a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask. 

The Swinburne Fire Station’s aim is to engage and build a culture of innovation with staff and students across the university; upskill and grow enterprise; and connect innovators with industry and investors to enable the rapid scale-up of research-led ideas into real-world solutions. The Innovation Precinct works side-by-side with Design Factory Melbourne (DFM) to help innovative ventures to thrive.

A co-working space within the innovation precinct‌A co-working space within Swinburne's Innovation Precinct.

The Innovation Precinct team hosts programs that support the creation of new ventures, while DFM – one of the founding members of the 30-member Design Factory Global Network – focuses on the creation and early validation of new ideas. Its main activities are geared towards community engagement for fostering innovation culture, innovation and design thinking programs for all Swinburne students, interdisciplinary research and short-term skill development and training. 

“Innovation has been part of Swinburne’s DNA for many years,” says Swinburne Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise), Professor Aleksandar Subic.  

“Our research-led innovation strategy has led to the establishment of the Swinburne Innovation Precinct, which encompasses the industry and business hub within the heritage-listed Fire Station, and our Design Factory Melbourne and Factory of the Future. This is a unique environment that drives innovation through interdisciplinary collaboration, diversity and inclusion. We are very proud to receive this global recognition for our innovation initiatives.”

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) Sarawak, Professor Ajay Kapoor, accepted the three Triple E awards on behalf of Swinburne.

Triple E awards

The Triple E Awards are a global recognition of efforts towards the quest for entrepreneurship and engagement in higher education. Initiated by the European-based Accreditation Council for Entrepreneurial and Engaged Universities (ACEEU), the awards aim to foster change in universities and to emphasise their role in their communities and ecosystems.  

Entrants undergo a rigorous application and selection process.  An external panel of reviewers, made up of entrepreneurship and innovation experts from around the world, assesses each applicant against strict criteria. 

Submission is open to all higher education institutions, including colleges, in the Asia-Pacific region. 

With more than 300 entries and 60 finalists from 17 countries, the awards suggest that the “third mission” at universities is gaining more prominence. The third mission refers to the social, enterprise, and innovative activities that universities perform in addition to teaching and research tasks. 

This year’s award ceremony took place on 9 January 2020.