By Holger Dielenberg
Over the last 3 years I have tossed around the idea of triangulating healthcare, advanced manufacturing and education via a collaborative research platform that builds healthcare products and supports the growth of new value chains. It’s a mouthful but stay with me.
Existing healthcare, education and advanced manufacturing currently operate in relative silos but each are evolving and experiencing disruptions:
1. New NDIS and CDC frameworks are forcing healthcare to reinvent service models with preventative care replacing scalpel and pill approach.
2. Advanced manufacturing is hungry for new opportunities after the loss of automotive production and must upskill to digital and ‘internet of things’ capabilities.
3. Education is responding to a rapidly evolving workforce by breaking traditional vertical learning faculties into faster paced micro credentialing and work integrated learning.
Scott Anderson moved back to Melbourne after a decade overseas in professional corporate roles. Coming from a background in engineering and mixed with his corporate business experience, Scott was scouting for new opportunities.
After attending a Melbourne Knowledge Week presentation I gave on Applied Technology Startups in March 2019, Scott introduced himself to me. We quickly realised that we shared a common interest: ‘how can you merge the Makerspace and Co-working business models into an engine for new design innovations’?
We spent all of 2019 brainstorming and connecting with our extended industry network to test our ideas. The result is – Space Tank CoLab.
To discover what CoLab could become, we looked at Melbourne’s strengths, weaknesses and opportunities in relation to manufacturing and healthcare. We wanted a collaborative space that develops assistive technology solutions in the NDIS/Disability and Aged care space.
Our vision for CoLab brings together engineering students, industry, problem owners and subject matter experts.
Universities and student interns gain real world human-centric design experience, exposure to entrepreneurial thinking and hands on fabrication experience. Research partnerships connect SME’s to technology experts, clinicians and healthcare clients. Manufacturing SME’s and problem owners benefit through research and development of new products and innovations, thereby increasing their capacity to grow and adapt in changing markets.
CoLab started its first 2020 internship program with 14 Engineering Masters students who were matched with 2 host company projects. Despite Covid-19, the internship program continues to operate remotely via regular Zoom link ups. Currently the program has 4 live projects underway with 2 projects responding directly to the Covid-19 pandemic.
CoLab will expand its capacity to approximately 100 engineering internships per year and handle between 5 to 10 projects at once.