IBM launches R&D facility in Melbourne

The $22 million facility will focus on global issues including natural disasters and disease

IBM has launched a new research and development lab in Melbourne, the first for the company in Australia, with a focus on global issues such as natural disasters and disease.

The federal government has provided $22 million to support the facility, which will seek to use advanced computing for the improved management of natural resources, disease and agricultural crops and provide about 150 research jobs over the next five years.

“This is a first-class research facility that will enhance Australia’s strong research base and attract the best people from Australia and around the world,” innovation minister, Senator Kim Carr, said in a statement.

“I’m pleased that IBM has already started assembling a world-class team, both from local and international research talent,” he said. “It will give post-graduate students opportunities to experience research at a world level.”

IBM will work alongside the University of Melbourne to help build and change Australian industries with research conducted at the Carlton-based lab, which has been operational since early 2011.

This will include areas such as resource discovery, production, supply and operations using the monitoring, analytics and automation and applied to resources such as oil and gas, minerals, water and food. It will also seek to expand knowledge in areas such as real-time event processing, weather modelling, traffic management and mobility analytics to assist in the planning and management of evacuation, communication and emergency response for natural disasters.

Researchers will also work to translate life sciences research into clinical applications in areas including neuroscience, protein science and structural biology.

“The lab sets a new model for public-private collaborative research which is central to Australia’s innovation agenda.

“This is a strategic win for Australia and recognition that Australia is able to compete for global investment opportunities and help create high-skill, high-wage, sustainable jobs for the future.”

IBM senior vice-president and director of IBM research, John E. Kelly III, said the lab would work with Australian scientists and engineers from academia, government and industry to make the world “work better”.

“We look forward to working with the Australian technical and scientific community on some of the most pressing problems and greatest opportunities of our time,” Kelly said.

University of Melbourne vice-chancellor, Professor Glyn Davis, said universities, government and research organisations need to combine forces to come up with solutions to global problems.

"Through the new IBM R&D Laboratory, we are bringing together leading minds from around the world and combining our capabilities and technologies in the interests of a safer, sustainable future."

The new facility adds to the state’s reputation as the “IT hub” of Australia following a number of IT developments in the last 12 months, including the housing of NBN Co’s Network Operations Centre (NOC) in Melbourne and various companies flagging IT operations in the region.

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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