Alumni Update | Issue Four 2014

Wild tech ideas take flight

Hills Limited and UniSA to nurture bright minds

The University of South Australia and Hills Limited have pooled their technological expertise in a brand-new technology venture, which will put South Australia at the forefront of innovative product design across a wealth of industries.

The partnership, which also includes Flinders University and the University of Adelaide, will see the launch of two new Innovation Centres in South Australia, underpinned by a $5 million co-contribution from Hills Limited and the State Government.
The Lance Hill Design Centre (named after the Hills hoist inventor) and the Digital Research and Commercialisation Centre will engage students, independent designers, innovators, researchers and businesses in collaborative product design projects.

Kick-starting the partnership are two Pitch Day rounds, where budding innovators can pitch their project ideas for technology solutions in various market categories. Successful entrants will develop and commercialise their ideas in the new Innovation Centres with support and funding from Hills and UniSA.

The first Pitch Day will take place in May to coincide with the launch of the Centres, and a second Pitch Day will follow in November.

UniSA Vice Chancellor, Professor David Lloyd, says the partnership is an example of how clever cities deliver innovation, increase their connectivity, and build capacity for the future.

“This project is an exemplar of how we need to approach business development in the State into the future,” Professor Lloyd says.

“The hallmarks of successful enterprises are that they develop strategic collaborations… and a practical way to make good ideas a reality.”

“This partnership continues our long association with Hills, a South Australian company that has nurtured the careers of many of our graduates in design and engineering, (and) fosters important collaboration with Flinders University so that we can each bring our research strengths to the table.”

Hills Limited’s Group Managing Director and CEO, Ted Pretty, says the company is undergoing a major transformation to meet the challenges of the global marketplace.

“We are delighted with the support we have had from the State Government and the enthusiasm showed by the universities in working with us,” Mr Pretty says.

He expects staff to potentially grow to 50 people as the new Centres mature, alongside five new permanent roles.

“We hope the Centres will also stimulate and indirectly support up to 30 additional local researchers and developers... we also plan to reinvest 50 per cent of after tax profits earned in the first three years on any IP developed in the Centres, up to the $2.5m committed by Government,” Mr Pretty says.

For further details on the Innovation Centres and how to enter Pitch Day, visit

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