Chinese steel giant gives stamp of approval to Aussie universities
29 March 2016
Shanghai-based Baosteel Group will provide approximately $10 million in additional funds to continue the momentum of a successful research and development centre that combines the expertise of four Australian universities with the industrial strength of a global steel giant.
The funding commitment, formalised in Shanghai last week, brings Baosteel’s investment in the Baosteel-Australia Joint Research and Development Centre (BAJC) to almost $26 million since 2011.
The collaborative centre is based at The University of Queensland and involves the University of New South Wales, Monash University and the University of Wollongong.
UQ President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Høj, signed the renewal agreement with Baosteel Group Corporation President, Mr Derong Chen on March 23. Senior representatives of the partner universities also attended the signing, which cements funding for the next five years.
Mr Chen hailed the centre as “an important part of Baosteel’s technological innovation”.
Professor Høj said the reinvestment by Baosteel showed that global business valued the benefits which flow from working with Australian universities.
“It is a strong vote of confidence in Australian university R&D, reaffirming the quality of research available for genuine ground-breaking innovation in line with the National Innovation Statement for Australia,” Professor Høj said.
“Crucially, the centre has given Australian researchers global industry experience, and in the next five years the focus on internships and international engagement will increase.”
BAJC - Baosteel’s first overseas R&D centre - has registered 10 patents and attracted $6.2 million in funding from Australian Government research schemes. Universities’ in-kind contributions total $21 million in the first five years.
BAJC Director Professor Victor Rudolph said researchers had published more than 150 scientific papers in high-impact publications in the past five years.
“More than 100 Australian professors, researchers and PhD students have visited Baosteel in China for academic exchanges and in 2015, a group of 15 researchers, scientists and engineers from Baosteel visited the BAJC member universities,” Professor Rudolph said.
The centre holds annual conferences, each attracting more than 80 research fellows and higher-degree students.
“Baosteel has been able to deploy a number of capacity-enhancing and value-adding technologies, as a result of the Centre’s work,” Professor Rudolph said.
These included improvements in steel production processes, and quality control and alloy design in low-cost and high property light metals.
Since 2011 Baosteel has provided approximately $16 million to BAJC, to support 40 research projects. The centre has developed new products, including magnesium, aluminium, and titanium alloys, and worked on advanced materials including high-performance lithium-sulfur battery cathodes, and graphene.
Professor Rudolph said BAJC's research and development focused on metallurgic processes, metal manufacturing, light metals and energy materials.
The global competitiveness of Australian universities was reaffirmed this month by the QS World University Rankings by Subject, in which Australia is one of the strongest nations. The stellar results for Australian institutions include a global ranking of 10 for UQ in Mineral Resources and Mining Engineering.
Image: In Shanghai’s 450-year-old Yuyuan Garden, dating from the Ming Dynasty, (left to right) Dr Jian Yang (Senior Engineer, Baosteel Research Institute); Dr Pijun Zhang (President, Baosteel Research Institute); Professor Simon Bigg (UQ Executive Dean, Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology), Professor Frieder Seible (Monash University Academic Vice-President- Industry Engagement, and Dean - Faculties of Engineering and Information Technology); Professor Max Lu, UQ Provost, Senior Vice-President and BAJC chair, Ms Suzanne Gremaux; Professor Judy Raper (University of Wollongong’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation); Professor Anton Middelberg (UQ Pro-Vice-Chancellor -Research and International; Dr Haomin Jiang – Assistant President Baosteel Research Institute; Professor Peter Høj, (UQ President and Vice-Chancellor); Dr Graham Chen (consultant to UQ) , Dr Warwick Dawson, (University of New South Wales - Director, Research Partnerships) and Professor Geoff Wang, BAJC Board Secretary and deputy director, UQ School of Chemical Engineering.