Partnerships between superannuation funds and local universities are critical alliances that could help push Australia towards the next major drug discovery or even a breakthrough in medical research says MTAA Super Chairman John Brumby.
The former Victorian premier made the comments in February while announcing the industry super fund for the motor trades would sponsor Sol Invictus – the ANU solar car team. The team will now be known as MTAA Super Sol Invictus and the vehicle, MTAA Super Charge.
MTAA Super’s contribution to the project will be matched by the ANU, ensuring the team will be on the starting line in Darwin for the The Bridgestone World Solar Challenge (BWSC). The BWSC is a biennial race for solar powered cars. The event attracts competitors ranging from universities such as Stanford, MIT and Cambridge through to technical institutes and private enterprises around the world. Companies such as Volkswagen, General Motors, Ford and Panasonic also use the race as a testbed for their new technologies and components.
It is not the first time the fund and university have successfully partnered. ANU Connect Ventures manages a $27 million fund on behalf of ANU-MTAA Super Venture Capital Partnership. The fund invests in early-stage commercial opportunities in the Canberra region.
Mr Brumby said numerous technological innovations, which had been picked up and incorporated by major auto manufacturers, had sprung from prototypes entered in previous student solar car challenges.
“Student teams like Solar Invictus have developed instant data-diagnostic equipment now used to provide service technicians with information about cars as soon as they enter a service centre. Advances pioneered by student teams have also led to development of regenerative braking used in modern electric vehicles.”
“For MTAA Super, the project marries two important passions of the fund: innovation and environmental sustainability. MTAA Super’s decision to partner with the ANU in supporting the team has clear synergies with one of our goals, which is to inspire optimism and growth by connecting us with our community,” Mr Brumby said.
“If you go to Hong Kong now every hire car there now is a battery charged vehicle. And in the years to come there will be more and more self-drive vehicles and more and more vehicles that will be part solar and part battery powered. This is the new frontier.”
Emily Rose Rees, the project leader of the student team, welcomed the partnership with MTAA Super.
“MTAA Super’s sponsorship means we can now focus on building our solar car and meet the technical and logistical challenges involved with the 3,000km race across Australia,” she said.
ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt said the sponsorship was a great example of how the university could work with industry to solve real business challenges.
“This is a great new partnership and a wonderful collaboration between business and some of our most talented students, working at the cutting edge of innovation and technology.”
MTAA Super is a Canberra-based industry superannuation fund with over $10 billion in funds under management. It was recently awarded the prestigious Medium Fund of the Year Award at the Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards.