APR.Intern closes the gap on University and Industry collaboration

Australian Postgraduate Research Intern (APR.Intern) is Australia’s only national, not-for-profit all-sector, all-discipline, PhD internship program – where the Australian Government offers a rebate of 50% off the cost of a PhD internship. It is designed to transform Australian business innovation through university research collaboration.

APR.Intern matches companies with PhD students and supervising academics to undertake three to five month, tightly-focused research projects. Delivered by the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute, the program is open to all universities, small-to-medium and large enterprises, and government bodies.

With PhD supply growing rapidly across Australian universities, Cate Ballard (National Program Manager, APR.Intern) said, “There are no longer enough jobs in academia for this workforce. With many of these very bright, solution-oriented thinkers eyeing industry opportunities, we needed a pathway to ensure they complemented expertise with workplace skills. APR.Intern uses a model similar to Canada’s globally respected MITACS program, with the goal of accelerating STEM innovation and strengthening essential academia-industry collaboration.”

“In the wake of the 4th industrial revolution, the Australian manufacturing sector faces the real challenge of maintaining a competitive edge while responding to digital disruption, rapid tech advancement, and managing big data. Collaboration enhances innovation capability for both academia and industry, opening new areas for investigation, and accelerating application where new technologies and processes are needed most.”

“Australia has globally recognised universities that are producing world-leading researchers. Access to this repository of high-level expertise is essential to accelerate innovation and ensure sectors such as manufacturing remain competitive amid rapid tech advancement and the evolution of advanced manufacturing techniques.”

“The benefits of the APR.Intern program for industry are enormous. The tightly-focused research projects target current innovation challenges. This innovation is accelerated through access to specialised skills through our national academic network. The best part is that industry retains the IP and benefits over the long-term. The program closes the gap on university and industry collaboration.”

“APR.Intern acts as a powerful gateway that allows industry to engage with academia on a national level. Rather than taking problems to individual universities, and hoping they have the skills required, industry comes to us. We translate the problem into an academic scope, and then advertise the project across our network. We bring back the skill set required by the industry partner, and provide a panel of students and academic partners for interviews.”

“Helping industry understand what they need and how they can benefit from PhDs has proven a win for both PhD students and business. We have placed over 400 students throughout the life of the program, of which 35% have been offered employment at the conclusion of their internship. Interestingly, 18% of these roles have been newly created positions—the program really is quite phenomenal in terms of creating new jobs,” said Ballard.

A truly national program, APR.Intern works with over 31 universities as well as government agencies such as the Australia Bureau of Statistics, Bureau of Meteorology, the CSIRO, the Defence Science and Technology Group and the Reserve Bank of Australia. A recent partnership with the Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre (IMCRC) has further deepened its impact in the manufacturing sector.


Collaboration for Commercial Benefit

APR.Intern has already collaborated with two AMGC members, delivering exceptional productivity improvements, product developments, and commercial benefits for both Enware Australia and Omni Tanker.  From concept and development to final delivery, the projects were a win-win experience for all involved. The skill set of the interns proved valuable and Omni Tanker employed their PhD intern upon completion of the project.


Enware Australia: Productivity Improvement

Enware Australia is a specialist plumbing and personal safety equipment manufacturer and supplier. With the objective of improving workplace sustainability, Enware implemented a project to streamline their systems, thereby reducing paper usage.

Specialist expertise was required to customise their database, so Enware enlisted the skills of APR.Intern Huiyuan ‘Hollie’ Zheng, from the Department of Computing at Macquarie University, to tackle the problem.

Hollie customised the software system that controls Enware’s manufacturing processes, product and price management systems. The upgrade enabled Enware to fix incorrect usage of database fields and implement a set of defined requirements, increasing their productivity.


Omni Tanker: Product Development

Omni Tanker needed to develop a versatile, lightweight, safe composite tank for the transport of corrosive and high purity chemicals—all in line with stringent European Standards. To gain access to skilled expertise that would take their design to the next level, Omni Tanker partnered with APR.Intern.

“We were matched with Manudha ‘Thinu’ Herath at a critical time in this project. To be able to rapidly and seamlessly tap into his specialised engineering skills made a significant difference for Omni Tanker, and is one of the reasons APR.Intern is so successful,” said Dr Luke Djukic (Chief Technical Officer, Omni Tanker).

Thinu, a PhD intern, from the University of New South Wales, worked with Omni Tanker to develop the structural design of the tank and its fire protection system. He manufactured a full-sized prototype of the 4000-litre tank that was then used for testing in Germany. The tanks are now on the market in Europe and the United States.


Australian Government 50% Rebate

An Australian Government rebate of 50% off the cost of a PhD internship through APR.Intern is currently available to all small-to-medium and large enterprise businesses, as well government agencies. This means that the cost for a:

  • 3 month internship is only $10k with rebate
  • 4 month internship is only $11.5k with rebate
  • 5 month internship is only $13k with rebate

The cost includes a $3,000 per month student stipend, a one-off $5,500 academic mentor fee, and a one-off project management fee. The rebate is supported by the Australian Government Department of Education.

For more information, or to take advantage of the 50% Government rebate, contact APR.Intern.


IMCRC Rebate

APR.Intern has partnered with the IMCRC to put new technologies, business models and digitalisation in reach of the Australian manufacturing industry. Eligible projects will attract up to $13,000 in IMCRC support, as well as the Australian Government 50% rebate outlined above. This means that the cost for a:

  • 3 month internship: IMCRC partners pay only $5 K with rebates
  • 3 month internship: Non-IMCRC partners pay $7.5K with rebates

For more information or to take advantage of the IMCRC rebate, visit APR.Intern’s website.