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Four new research and industry hubs will lead Australia’s breakthroughs in critical national manufacturing priorities, with a focus on resources and critical minerals technology.

The Federal Government’s $242.7 million Trailblazer Universities initiative will see universities and industry work together to develop the technologies, products and businesses Australia needs for the challenges ahead.

Each centre or hub will focus their efforts on the national priority areas set out in the Modern Manufacturing Strategy, including resources technology, defence, space, food and beverage, clean energy and medical products.

The four universities, selected through a competitive process, will receive up to $50 million over four years to build their commercialisation capacity and $8 million in CSIRO specialist support through their proven Test Labs.

Minister for Regionalisation, Regional Communications and Regional Education, Bridget McKenzie, said the fund would support select universities to become innovation trailblazers – including at least one regional university.

“Universities that know their communities and understand the connection between research and innovation will be the winners under this scheme,” McKenzie said.

“Our regional institutions already generate ground-breaking solutions to real-world problems, particularly in areas of agriculture and mining. This fund is a great opportunity to establish closer connections between universities and the innovation potential in their region.

“I particularly encourage our regionally based campuses to consider this opportunity, as many already have positive, ongoing relationships with industry.”

Minister for Defence Industry and Science and Technology Melissa Price said the new fund would drive research excellence and real-world impacts to accelerate Australia’s innovation agenda.

“The Government will be looking to tap into universities that align their research with the national manufacturing priority areas,” Price said.

“This is an exciting opportunity for our universities to develop research and technology that goes on to improve the lives of all Australians.”

The universities will need to demonstrate commercialisation readiness, such as having strong links with industry partners including co-funding commitments, innovative Intellectual Property arrangements, promotion pathways for academics who focus on commercialisation activities rather than pure research, and a governance arrangement chaired by an industry leader.