National ICT Australia (NICTA) opened a new research laboratory in Victoria today with the sole aim of investigating ICT as an enabling technology and commercializing telecommunications, information technology and life sciences.
Marsha Thomson, Victorian Minister for Information and Communication Technology, launched the laboratory and announced additional funding of $20 million to support future research in information and communications technology.
NICTA, the Victorian government and the University of Melbourne have funded nearly $117 million since the Victorian laboratory was established in 2004.
According to NICTA, this funding will enable the laboratory to employ more than 160 researchers by 2009.
Thomson said as a result of the funding the centre will be able to expand research into life sciences, such as the development of a bionic eye.
Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan said the funding has been extended over five years to ensure the laboratory becomes an enduring, world-scale, leading edge strategic ICT research institution.
Professor Rob Evans, director of the NICTA Victoria research laboratory, said the research is use-inspired.
"We look for a problem in the community and set out to use the latest technology to solve it," he said.
"We're not interested in research for research's sake."
Professor Glyn Davis, University of Melbourne vice-chancellor said the university has donated the premises for the laboratory as well as staff and students.
"Our water research centre is working with NICTA, in conjunction with Goulburn Murray Water, on a state government-funded project examining methods of smarter irrigation," Davis said.
A demonstration was held at the opening of the ongoing Water Information Networks (WIN) project to develop water efficiency in the Australian dairy, horticulture and viticulture industries. The project and is based on NICTOR, a wireless sensor network platform developed to monitor and manage water information networks for critical infrastructure.