RMIT set to open AU$1.5m data analytics lab

Victoria's RMIT University is opening its AU$1.5 million data analytics lab this week in partnership with NICTA, in an initiative expected to help Australian businesses compete on a global scale.

Melbourne's RMIT University will open the doors of its new AU$1.5 million data analytics lab this week in a bid to help give local businesses the data edge over their international counterparts.

The NICTA RMIT Data Analytics Lab, which is being hosted by the university's school of computer science and IT, is intended to become a hub for advanced data analytics projects in a bid to help Australian businesses compete on a global scale.

The lab will be officially launched on November 20.

The project is a joint initiative between Australia's information and communications technology research centre National ICT Australia (NICTA) and RMIT, and will build upon RMIT's previous collaborations with the likes of Google, ANZ, and Public Transport Victoria.

RMIT's professor Timos Sellis, who is jointly leading the project with professor Mark Sanderson, said that the lab's focus — data analytics — has a potential multibillion-dollar impact on the Australian economy.

"Data analytics — and big data — is one of the next big waves of ICT innovation, with PricewaterhouseCoopers recently predicting it offers a AU$3.8 billion opportunity for Australian businesses," he said. "In the emerging data economy, organisations succeed or fail largely due to their ability to leverage data and analytics to improve their operational efficiencies, make better tactical and strategic decisions, and create innovative products, services, and business models to meet and exceed customer expectations.

"The NICTA RMIT Data Analytics Lab aims to open up these opportunities to Victorian business and government partners," he said.

The collaboration represents an investment of more than AU$1.5 million to RMIT, with the lab offering space to 18 PhD students, four postdoctoral fellows, and international visitors.

The lab will specialise in areas such as text, user, and data analytics, with applications in a host of industries, including health, logistics, smart cities urban development and transport, environment, and security.

The launch of the new data analytics facility comes as the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) launches its new "Intersection" digital creative hub, which is being led by partners Microsoft and the New South Wales government in a bid to grow jobs in Australia's startup sector.

The new hub, which is also being launched on November 20, is also expected to help startups connect with corporate entities, according to UTS deputy vice chancellor for resources Patrick Woods.

"Intersection has been created to connect large companies with startups; develop programs of events, mentoring, and internships; and raise Sydney's global profile through collaboration," he said.

Woods said that Australia is well behind other countries in terms of the number of startups, their ability to access capital, and Australia's ability to keep domestic talent.

"Study after study has shown that for our economy to thrive in a digital age, we need a strong startup sector that is well supported by innovative companies and partnerships between education, government, and the community," he said.

On November 18, KPMG and Artesian Venture Partners announced a partnership also aimed at connecting early stage startups in Australia with corporate capital and support.

"The alliance with KPMG will allow the engagement of corporates in the startup ecosystem as customers, partners, or potential acquirers, and will help startups and technology become a substantial industry as we move away from a reliance on mining and resources," said Artesian partner and COO Tim Heasley.