After a highly successful launch in Victoria on June 15, the past two months have seen a significant expansion of the Industry Mentoring Network in STEM (IMNIS) with a range of programs launching in New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland.
IMNIS is an award-winning initiative of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) and in its first six months has connected 204 PhD students around Australia with outstanding, high profile industry leaders in medical technologies, minerals resources and energy resources.
Stunning city and harbour views at KPMG Australia’s new location in Sydney were an impressive backdrop to launch the NSW MedTech-Pharma program on July 24. The program was officially opened by the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, Professor Mary O’Kane FTSE, and she emphasised the need for a collaborative STEM ecosystem where industry and academia were more closely connected. NSW had the second largest intake for the MedTech-Pharma program (after Victoria) with 38 PhD student mentees from the University of Sydney, the University of Technology Sydney and Macquarie University.
In Perth, Western Australia, rainbows shone on the launch of the Energy-Minerals Resources program which was officially opened by the Hon. Dave Kelly, Minister for Water, Fisheries, Forest, Innovation and ICT, and Science on August 10. Minister Kelly reiterated most future jobs will require STEM skills and said he planned to grow this sector in WA. There was strong uptake in these disciplines with 38 mentees from the University of Western Australia, Murdoch University and Curtin University involved.
The need for a more integrated STEM education and industry training experience at all levels was emphasised by SA Chief Scientist, Dr Leanna Read FTSE, when she formally opened the IMNIS programs in MedTech-Pharma and Energy Resources in the heart of Adelaide on August 11. Forty-eight mentees from the University of South Australia, Flinders University and the University of Adelaide are keenly participating.
The whirl-wind IMNIS tour ended in Brisbane, Queensland with IMNIS programs in MedTech-Pharma and Minerals Resources officially launched by the Acting Chief Scientist, Christine Williams on August 23. Overlooking the Brisbane River and Storey Bridge from KPMG, Ms Williams spoke about the value of STEM to Queensland and stressed a culture shift will help drive innovation into the future. The Queensland University of Technology has 16 PhD students enrolled and is excited to be the first university in QLD on board!
The national roll-out of the IMNIS MedTech-Pharma program is possible thanks to funding from our major partner MTPConnect with strong support from our consortium partner AusBiotech, Australia’s peak biotechnology industry association. IMNIS coordinates one year mentoring programs complemented by state-level events to provide guidance, strengthen skills, share expertise and extend networks.
The Academy strongly supports the growth of IMNIS and a number of esteemed Academy Fellows are participating as mentors, advisers and champions. ATSE CEO Dr Margaret Hartley FTSE says “Participating universities are at the leading edge of the innovation frontier by enhancing the professional development of their PhD trainees, increasing their understanding of the STEM industry sector, as well as broadly extending their networks through IMNIS“.
The future for IMNIS is bright! IMNIS has been approached by many organisations keen to get involved, strengthen the program and expand into new discipline areas. Such strong engagement from the broader STEM ecosystem ensures IMNIS will achieve its goals! IMNIS is also rapidly gaining a broad public profile. The website has blogs, mentor and mentee profiles and program information. IMNIS also actively engages via social media and has students around the country (and beyond) asking “Is IMNIS at my university?”.
IMNIS Executive Director Dr Marguerite Evans-Galea said “Australia’s future STEM entrepreneurs, researchers and industry leaders are many of today’s PhD students. Investing in them early to foster their professional development, increase their profile and extend their network, will allow them to reach their full potential. This will strengthen Australia’s position in research and innovation globally”.
The IMNIS program promises to be fun! The IMNIS team looks forward to supporting all mentors and mentees around Australia on their mentoring journey. Let the mentoring and networking begin!
IMNIS is an award-winning initiative of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE). In recognition of its positive impact, IMNIS won a prestigious B/HERT Best Higher Education and Training Collaboration Award in 2016. IMNIS was kick-started by passionate Foundation donors working with ATSE. Many of these generous professionals continue to support IMNIS today as members of the Expert Advisory Panel.
IMNIS mentors and mentees are carefully matched by an experienced state-based panel of STEM experts using a range of criteria including professional expertise, skills, discipline areas and career interests. IMNIS mentees learn about commercialisation, start-ups, entrepreneurship and innovation, and the professional skills needed to lead and excel within the STEM ecosystem. For mentors, IMNIS is an opportunity to ‘give back’ and contribute to the professional development of the next generation of STEM leaders.
All mentor-mentee pairs are encouraged to be open and respectful of the person on the other side of this new partnership. IMNIS uses the Mentorloop platform to monitor the program’s impact and success, and gather data nationally while maintaining full confidentiality.
IMNIS respectfully acknowledges, recognises and respects the Elders, families and forebears of the Boonwurrung and Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation who are the Traditional custodians of the land on which ATSE is located, and pays respect to their Elders, past and present; as well as Elders and representatives of other communities who may have attended the IMNIS launches.
IMNIS thanks our invited speakers and guests, including Members of Parliament, university leadership, and chief scientists in their respective states, as well as our partner organisations, and mentors and mentees – many of whom spoke, engaged positively and attended these events. We gratefully acknowledge funding from our major partner MTPConnect, seed funding from NERA and METS Ignited, and support from our consortium partner AusBiotech. We are also grateful to our sponsors CSL and KPMG Australia, and our supporters FB Rice and Engineers Australia.
Thanks to all of our representatives and contacts at KPMG Australia for generously providing stellar venues and outstanding logistical support. Thanks also to Dr Janet Yeo, Victor Portier and the AusBiotech Events Team for their logistical support.
Thanks to all of our photographers (as indicated) for excellent action shots!