The Chinese government is building an innovation campus at the University of New South Wales

Photo: UNSW

The University of New South Wales has unveiled a $100 million deal with the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology to build an innovation precinct on its campus.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the partnership during his first visit to China as PM. The Sydney precinct is part of the Chinese Torch program, which has been responsible for around 150 similar innovation precincts in China.

The innovation hubs of business, university and research groups account for around 7% of China’s GDP and 16% of export value. Deloitte estimates the UNSW Torch precinct will add $1 billion to Australia’s GDP over its first 10 years.

UNSW president Professor Ian Jacobs outlines the potential benefits to the nation’s innovation push.

“The Torch partnership is an important milestone in the further development of Sydney as Australia’s global innovation city, and in ensuring that university research generates even greater economic impact and social progress. This is an example of UNSW proactively taking the initiative to put some real momentum behind Australia’s National Innovation and Science Agenda,” he said.

“This is about future proofing our national competitiveness by strategically positioning Australia as China becomes the world’s largest investor in R&D and the 21st century’s science and technology superpower.”

The initial $30 million worth of investment will come from eight Chinese companies looking to support research around energy, biotechnology, advanced materials and environmental engineering.

UNSW’s Kensington campus will house the first group of partners in an incubator space before a purpose-built innovation precinct is completed by 2025.