Networking vendors Cisco, Ericsson, Huawei and Alcatel-Lucent have emerged as industry partners on a range of academic research projects that are recipients of a fresh round of federal funding.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne announced 252 research projects would share in $86.9 million under the Australian Research Council (ARC) linkage grant scheme.

Linkage projects involve collaboration between researchers and industry and require some kind of financial or in-kind contribution from the industry partner.

Pyne said industry contributions in this round represented “$1.76… for every dollar of government funding”, although documents did not break out the specific contributions from each partner.

Alcatel-Lucent is part of a University of Melbourne project focused on modelling energy consumption “in next-generation telecommunication networks”.

All four researchers on the project are affiliated with the Centre for Energy-Efficient Telecommunications (CEET) at the university, which is a long-running collaboration between Alcatel’s Bell Labs and the institution.

This latest project appeared to be focused on minimising energy consumed by highly virtualised and so-called 5G networks, and received $240,000 of ARC funds.

Meanwhile, Huawei Technologies is collaborating with University of Sydney researchers “to deliver building blocks for designing future machine-to-machine (M2M) wireless access networks”.

“The project aims to develop novel communications techniques that are tailored to unique M2M network characteristics and requirements and demonstrate the proposed algorithms in practical systems,” the researchers noted. They received $360,000 from ARC over three years.

Sweden’s Ericsson is working with the University of Newcastle to research feedback methods for 5G networks.

“This new generation of mobile communications promises exceptional bandwidth, high reliability and low link delay,” the researchers said.

“To achieve these leaps in performance, a paradigm shift to massive multiple-input-multiple-output (MIMO) antenna systems, very high frequency systems and small cells is required.

“Critical feedback loops in areas such as narrow 3D beam steering for mobile users, control of multiflow systems must be developed to enable 5G communications to be successfully deployed.”

The Ericsson project has snared $350,000 in ARC funds to be provided over three years.

Cisco Systems is working with the University of New South Wales to improve video streaming using interconnected content distribution networks (CDNs).

According to the research team, “the novelty of the scheme is in optimally coupling cache server selection with network path control using software defined networking technology.”

It is hoped the project will “strengthen Australia’s leadership in the emerging area of software defined networking.”

More IT projects

Aside from networking vendor collaborations, a number of other IT-related projects also secured ARC linkage backing:

  • Capgemini Australia is working with the University of Sydney to make it easier to introduce social networking into the enterprise. ($280,000)
  • Thales Australia has a project with the University of Sydney to make underwater survey robots more responsive to their human operators. ($315,000)
  • Victorian utility Jemena has a tie-up with the University of Sydney to improve the efficiency of cloud data centres. ($574,932)
  • Honda Research Institute USA will work with Queensland University of Technology on in-car augmented reality displays aimed at increasing driver safety and reducing risk-taking. ($300,000)
  • Supercomputer maker Cray is collaborating with The University of Queensland to make an “energy-tuning tool” that integrates with Cray systems. ($430,000)
  • Jobs board Seek is working with RMIT on a project to mine details from web users. ($394,000)
  • Software maker CA has a project with Swinburne University of Technology to “automate the provisioning of virtual deployment environments”. ($473,000)

'Jobs for the future'

Christopher Pyne said connecting industry and academic researchers was “vital to Australia’s prosperity and the jobs of the future”.

“Australian universities and research institutes undertake a large amount of excellent research, but Australia does far less well than most similar countries in connecting industry with this research and turning it into practical goods and services improving peoples’ lives,” he said.

“Australia’s future competitiveness depends on collaboration across disciplines and sectors, on turning our ideas and research into real goods and services, technologies and life improvements.”