NICTA opens new Sydney lab

National ICT Australia (NICTA) yesterday opened a new research laboratory in Sydney that could eventually house up to 170 scientists.The Neville Roach Laboratory -- named after the founding chairman of the national research institute, forms part of the new facility at the University of New South Wales.

National ICT Australia (NICTA) yesterday opened a new research laboratory in Sydney that could eventually house up to 170 scientists.

The Neville Roach Laboratory -- named after the founding chairman of the national research institute, forms part of the new facility at the University of New South Wales.

Around 60 NICTA staff will work at the laboratory in four research areas -- embedded, real-time and operating systems; formal methods; knowledge representation and reasoning, and symbolic machine learning and knowledge acquisition. The laboratory has enough space to accomodate 170 scientists, according to the organisation.

Like the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), NICTA works to invent new technologies and commercialise them with industry partners.

Federal Minister for Education, Science and Training, Brendan Nelson, who opened the laboratory, said the NICTA node represented an "extremely important part" of the body.

"Over a 10 year period the Australian government is investing about $380 million in this [NICTA program].

"And the reason for doing it is that information communication technologies are to this century what rail infrastructure was to Australia's economic and social development in the 19th and 20th centuries," Nelson said.

Neville Roach, who also attended the launch, stressed the importance of NICTA realising its ambition, citing $500 million the research organisation had received in government funding.

"The money that NICTA has compared to everyone else is so great.

"We just can't pick the low-hanging fruit, that's too easy. We have to be a leader," Roach said, adding that his dream of NICTA being a world-leader in ICT research and development remained "exotic".

All research institutions in Australia should to be built around NICTA, and it should also focus on collaborating with industry, and providing skilled research, training and development, he said. "That's the NICTA dream I had, it's what the founders had ... I'm sure we can achieve that.

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