A tech giant just handed out Australia's biggest ever software grant -- worth $135 million – to a Melbourne university

Siemens Australia’s Jeff Connolly and Swinburne’s Professor Aleksandar Subic. (Source: supplied)

German tech giant Siemens has made a $135 million software grant to Melbourne’s Swinburne University of Technology, in a deal it claims is the largest in Australia.

The grant was announced Wednesday to coincide with the 145th anniversary of Siemens’ commissioning of the Darwin to Adelaide telegraph.

“For Siemens to be here at least another 145 years, we need a viable and successful base of industry, manufacturing and infrastructure along with a highly skilled workforce driven by forward thinking educators,” said Siemens Australia chief executive Jeff Connolly.

“So it’s vitally important that our future generations are equipped with the globally competitive technology and skills to take us on that journey.”

The deal includes the Internet of Things platform Mindsphere and a suite of product lifecycle management (PLM) software, which, due to prohibitive costs, is normally only accessible for enterprises and big government departments.

“These are the same tools used to create digital shipyards for the US Navy. The same software used to design, build and operate everything from the latest oil and gas platforms to hi-tech production lines such as the Maserati Ghibli,” Connolly said.

The Siemens PLM software has also been used by Ben Ainslie Racing in the America’s Cup, Firewire surfboard design, the Red Bull Formula 1 racing team and NASA’s Mars Rover.

The technology will help Swinburne University of Technology setup its Industry 4.0 ‘Factory of the Future’ lab in eastern Melbourne, which is believed to be the first facility of its kind in Austrralia.

“We’re immersed in the fourth industrial revolution and we want to make sure that students and researchers are equipped with the required advanced capabilities and technologies to help Australia access global value chains,” said Swinburne deputy vice-chancellor Professor Aleksandar Subic.

“The international competition will be fierce in the manufacturing domain, which is why this development is so timely and critical.”

Australia and Germany have actively collaborated since the Brisbane G20 in 2014, with an Australia-Germany Advisory Group (AGAG) founded soon after. That group triggered a new industry-led taskforce chaired by Connolly, resulting in initiatives like the Swinburne grant and Australia’s first Industry 4.0 apprenticeship program.

Siemens is a manufacturer of industrial technology founded in 1847 in what was then the Kingdom of Prussia. The company has 351,000 staff across the globe and raked in €79.6 billion revenue and net profit of €5.6 billion for the year ending September 2016.

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