David Wright, Group CEO of Capital Markets CRC, explains how universities can benefit from translational research in the data-driven digital economy.

The digital economy has arrived and, according to Deloitte, it is undermining “conventional notions about how businesses are structured; how firms interact; and how consumers obtain services, information, and goods.” The ability to harness and exploit the value of data will be crucial to succeed in this transformed and disrupted digital world.

Fuelled by resources, new technologies and good old Aussie grit, our economy has performed outstandingly well in recent years, creating wealth and value for many.

But other countries are looking to leapfrog us by optimising their own economies – and they are turning to data and data science to do this.

The Australian Government recognises these challenges, noting that “data volumes are growing exponentially and so too is the potential value of this data… Publishing, linking and sharing data can create opportunities that neither government nor business can currently envisage”.

So what does all this mean for our universities and other research institutions?

The changing cost of data

To date, universities in particular have enjoyed access to free or heavily subsidised data, enabling them to conduct research across a wide range of areas at little cost.

However, a change is on its way: in this competitive world, businesses and organisations  will increasingly seek to monetise their data, turning it into a commodity to sell. Moreover, they will attempt to lock out other competitors as they position themselves to be the single source for researchers and institutions.  Universities are feeling this directly with changes over the past few months.

 


A change is on its way: in this competitive world, businesses and organisations  will increasingly seek to monetise their data, turning it into a commodity to sell.


 

There’s nothing wrong with this – it’s just normal business practice, and effective companies will strive to dominate in their data “market”.
But this approach will push up costs for universities, stretching budgets – but there will still be pressure to conduct impactful research.

Some big universities may see this as a way of obtaining a fundamental competitive advantage thanks to the size and scale of their infrastructure compared to smaller institutions. However, even those bigger universities will have to collaborate and instigate other smarter ways of meeting the new challenges if they are to compete on a national and international scale.

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The translational research approach

Such collaboration has been common in translational medical research, where the cost of research and world-leading infrastructure is commonly shared by a number of  parties, including other universities, industry, government and community (this is known as the “Quadruple Helix Model”).

 


A successful CRC should add something new to the Australian research ecosystem.


 

However, despite standing to benefit from the same collaborative approach, translational research institutions are few and far between outside the medical field.

In Australia, this has been the domain of the Cooperative Research Centres (CRC).

A successful CRC should add something new to the Australian research ecosystem.

This should include:

  • Completing groundbreaking translational research and delivering capability-building education programs by maximising the unique collaborations and research infrastructure
  • Enabling companies to access the incredible talent in our world-leading universities  in a manner designed to be easily acquired by industry, and which delivers proven commercially valuable research in return
  • Providing universities with a way achieve industry impact, recruit PhD students, produce outstanding graduate outcomes, generate timely completions and other research outputs (such as quality publications and citations), and provide an excellent return on investment
  • Exceeding the commitments set out in their funding agreement with the Commonwealth with a positive return to the Australian economy from the Government investment addressing the alarmingly poor status of our translational research compared to other OECD countries.

Some CRCs have been very successful in implementing that model. Our Capital Markets CRC (CMCRC) has successfully achieved all the above and generated positive social, educational and commercial outcomes. However, most have a limited lifespan and non-sustaining funding models.

Leading the world

A new organisation is soon to be launched with the goal of becoming an acknowledged global leader in self-sustaining translational research.

 


Every university should have access to globally competitive research infrastructure.


 

It will be built on the philosophy is that every university should have access to globally competitive research infrastructure.

That  infrastructure will include:

  1. Data efficiently gathered from multiple original sources, across multiple markets (including financial, capital, health, energy, digital currency and more), and managed in a way that enables outstanding research.
  2. Tools and technologies that enable researchers to best utilise that data to accelerate, enhance, expand and complete their research, including the next-generation $20m+ Market Quality Dashboard.
  3. Expertise and talent in the shape of a 300-strong expert technical team and academic domain leaders combining to develop future R&D leaders and increase the skills and expertise of partners.
  4. Impact pathways through industry projects designed to deliver demonstrable value, student opportunities to work in start-ups and commercialisation of the IP generated. This will provide proof of concepts and validation leading to creating products, businesses and arrangements that create opportunities across global markets.

The benefit for universities

 


The new entity, brings together SIRCA – a world leader in the provision and management of data – and CMCRC – Australia’s leading translational research organisation in finance and data science.


 

Universities will have access to tools to manage data sources, build algorithms for testing, visualising and managing the data, unlock the value in the data, develop repeatable and robust solutions, and store the results.

And in today’s challenging funding environment, where impact and industry engagement are crucial, CMCRC represents an extremely reliable way of achieving outstanding results in these areas, and demonstrating the value of those results.

The new entity, whose name is to be released shortly, is a manifestation of the collaborative approach. It brings together SIRCA – a world leader in the provision and management of data – and CMCRC – Australia’s leading translational research organisation in finance and data science. This joint entity was announced  on June 14. Final legal and commercial agreements are still being worked through, but both parties have committed to making this happen.

It will be a collaborative, not-for-profit organisation designed to effectively support a membership of universities across Australia and New Zealand.

SIRCA, based in Australia for more than a two decades, is the leading provider of research data services in financial markets to Australian and New Zealand universities. It is also one of the largest data source service providers in the world, serving some 700 clients on a daily basis.

CMCRC, established in 2001, runs the world-leading industrial PhD program, which currently has 100 research associates working with industry partners and universities in five continents. CMCRC has used its experience in data and market design (or market quality) to develop technologies and processes that enable fast, efficient, high-quality research. This includes data management and mining, analytics, Python development platforms and visualisation and report-generating tools. CMCRC also offers training programs and programming language tools to improve skills in areas such as Python coding.

Building a future-proof organisation

 


We are excited about the future and look forward to delivering benchmark-setting results to those who are, and who wish to be, members of our research community.


 

We are excited about the future and look forward to delivering benchmark-setting results to those who are, and who wish to be, members of our research community.

Both CMCRC and SIRCA posses a tremendous amount of capability already – and with a combined effort we will seek to expand over the coming years as we respond to market need and deliver something truly globally significant.