Telstra has pledged $5.4 million to projects with the University of Melbourne to develop and diversify Australia’s tech talent pipeline.
The telco will support 10 students to attend the university under its technology and innovation scholarships program, which aims to increase the number of women and Indigenous Australians studying science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
It will also establish a new Telstra Creator Space at the university’s purpose-built innovation precinct known as Melbourne Connect.
Melbourne Connect, which is currently under construction at the former Royal Women’s Hospital site, co-locates researchers, industry and government with higher-degree STEM students.
The Telstra Creator Space will give students, startups and industry access to new fabrication and prototyping facilities while also playing host to workshops and industry events to foster collaboration.
The partnership also provides for research collaboration between the two organisations over the next five years, using the university’s engineering capabilities to further develop Telstra’s network and explore other avenues of business growth.
The program with the University of Melbourne follows a deal signed by the telco with five local universities late last year to collaborate on talent development and research.
This deal has so far resulted in a suite of microcredentials being launched in partnership with the University of Technology Sydney to upskill Telstra's workforce in artificial intelligence and data analytics.
Telstra CEO Andy Penn said the investment will help establish a pipeline of graduates ready for the workforce.
“The Telstra Creator Space and the technology and innovation scholarship program will ensure more University of Melbourne graduates have the skills and practical experience they need," he said.
University of Melbourne vice chancellor, Professor Duncan Maskell, said the funding helps deliver on the potential of Melbourne Connect.
“Melbourne Connect is a new and exciting way of working for the University of Melbourne,” Maskell said.
“We look forward to enhanced opportunities for collaboration between students, academics and industry leaders including our newest partner, Telstra.
“The Telstra Creator Space inside Melbourne Connect will provide access to world-class equipment for students and our industry partners to turn their innovations into reality.”
Melbourne Connect is expected to be completed by the end of the year and open to students in 2021, featuring additional spaces for student accommodation, co-working and commercial office space, retail, public spaces, childcare, and the new Science Gallery Melbourne.