NBN Co makes $3m R&D deals with universities

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NBN Co makes $3m R&D deals with universities

Casts gaze on future.

NBN Co is set to invest around $3 million into “collaborative” R&D agreements with the University of Melbourne and the University of Technology Sydney.

The base agreements were put in place today and will test use cases for a range of internet-reliant technologies.

It is expected that the agreements will also fund “post-doctoral research opportunities and student exchanges”, though it is understood finer details are yet to be worked out.

“Combining our technical resources with UTS and UoM in these relationships should enhance our ability to bring new technologies into the market that will help us improve the end-user experience and positively impact people’s lives,” NBN Co said in a statement.

“In addition, allowing UTS and UoM access to NBN Co’s substantial technical resources will also be hugely beneficial to these universities and their students in terms of gaining access to real-world telecoms network operational data.”

It is unclear whether the universities will also stump up additional investment on top of what NBN Co is understood to be contributing.

A University of Melbourne spokesperson said it was still too early to provide further details on its side of the arrangement.

A UTS spokesperson referred questions to NBN Co.

R&D work is broadly expected to be around technologies including “robotics, IoT, technology for social good, programmable networks, data analytics and visualisation for customer experience, artificial intelligence, wireless technologies and smart cities”.

NBN Co has already been pursuing this kind of work internally through its CTO office. It laid out ambitions to become an IoT player, for example, back in late 2016.

Chief technology officer Dr Ray Owen said the exact scope of the works with the universities would be negotiated “in the coming months”.

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