25 February 2015 – Melbourne, Australia
Michael Egan, from the SME Engagement Centre has won the prestigious AIRG Medal for Australasian Technological Innovation, awarded by the Australasian Industrial Research Group.
This award was presented to Mr Egan at the AIRG 50th Anniversary Meeting last night (24 February 2015), for establishing an operational model and service to boost collaboration between SMEs and research organisations to increase corporate competitiveness.
Mr Egan leads a team of five research facilitators meeting with some 500 Australian SMEs each year to explore their business innovation needs and provide tailored support and advice.
They facilitate research projects that are led by the SME and involving the placement of a researcher inside the business, achieving its highest-ever number of placements in 2014 – 48 projects worth more than $4.5 million.
The winning nomination says Mr Egan “has shown an excellent understanding of the motivations of public sector researchers and SME entrepreneurs, in order to build relationships between these two groups and deliver mutually beneficial outcomes” providing answers to “key challenges in Australia’s capacity to boost commercial returns from research through knowledge diffusion into Australian SMEs”.
AIRG President Dr Leonie Walsh FTSE said collaboration between publicly funded research organisations and industry was critical to knowledge diffusion and ensuring that the nation’s investment in research translates into productivity improvements and new competencies that increase our national prosperity.
“The competitiveness of the SME sector in particular is critical to this ambition,” she said.
“For a number of years, research organisations have struggled to either prioritise this activity or establish a model for engaging with SMEs, which emphasises the value of Mr Egan’s work.”
Andy Butler from Textor Technologies has had direct experience with Michael Egan’s achievements and commented as follows: "Textor Technologies transformation depended on the full support from Michael and his team and we will never forget the debt that we owe. The scientists or researcher may be the individual that attracts the attention, but without the back office commitment and support there would never be a project in the first place."
The SME Engagement Centre delivers the Federal Governments Research Connections program and is a joint initiative funded by the Department of Industry & Science and CSIRO.