24 October 2016
The Academy’s PhD student mentoring scheme has been approved to receive a grant of $200,000 over two years from the MTPConnect Project Fund Program to extend its activities.
The funding will be $150,000 in year one and $50,000 in year two, which is to be matched dollar-for-dollar with industry funding.
The funding will augment the Academy’s IMNIS program (Industry Mentoring Network In STEM), which is already operating pilot projects in Victoria, SA and WA. The IMNIS program aims to develop a national mentoring program linking PhD students in STEM with senior industry mentors who can provide advice and role models of industry-based STEM careers and narrow the cultural gap between business and academia.
The grant was announced today by Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Greg Hunt at an AusBiotech conference in Melbourne. AusBiotech partnered with ATSE in the funding application.
This project will expand the successful Victorian IMNIS pilot in biotechnology to all States in collaboration with AusBiotech which will be responsible for recruiting mentors. The focus will be on PhD students in all fields of relevance to the medical technology and pharmaceutical industry sector.
Currently there are 50 Mentors and Mentees in the Victorian program from four Universities (Melbourne, Monash, La Trobe and RMIT). Mentors are recruited by direct approaches to professionals in the field and include people with skills in R&D, Marketing, IP, Finance and Manufacturing. These mentors are matched one-to-one with the PhD students and the program is administered using software from Mentorloop.
IMNIS has another program with TechinSA in South Australia and three Universities (Adelaide, UniSA and Flinders). It was launched in May 2016, is still enrolling participant and currently has 18 paired Mentors and Mentees.
IMNIS also has a pilot program in WA in the Minerals and Energy sector with four Universities participating (UWA, Curtin, Edith Cowan and Murdoch). Discussions are underway with groups in Qld and NSW to engage in the IMNIS program.
IMNIS Principal Professor Paul Wood FTSE said collaboration between business and publicly funded research organisations (PFROs) was crucial to improving the translation of research into productivity.
“By developing a new generation of PhD students who have a better understanding of industry and the skills it values we hope to create a more innovation-focused culture within the biosciences community,” he said.
“With only 10 per cent of PhD students finding long-term academic positions it is critical that they develop skills outside of their specific technical area. If the future PhD students do not see and understand the opportunities beyond an academic career then the number of people entering PhD programs may be significantly reduced.”
“I am delighted that this consortium led by ATSE has been selected to expand the important IMNIS program to a national scale, said Ms Sue MacLeman, CEO of MTPConnect.
“The mentoring program links PhD students with qualified industry mentors, and helps to reduce the cultural gap that exists between business and research. The pilot in Victoria has proved successful for MTP sector participants, and we are incredibly excited to be a part of taking it national.”
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