Building tech investment networks in China

Executives and civic leaders from China inspecting Griffith energy technology.

A temporary alliance to complete a design and manufacturing contest has fostered a deeper partnership between Griffith University scientists and Chinese manufacturers that may see new businesses brought to Queensland.

Recently, GE Business Innovation Manager, Ty Ferretti, went to three Chinese cities with Professor Eddie Zhang to build up relationships with Chinese companies looking to invest in Griffith science and Australian industry.

The pair visited battery factories, sensor factories, energy grid manufacturers, electrolyte suppliers and renewable power system designers that are interested in bringing their business to Queensland.

One of these companies was Greenway corporation, who manufacture Lithium ion batteries as well as electric bicycles, scooters and electric vehicles. They are looking to establish links with Griffith scientists and have already visited the Griffith in March.

In Beijing, Ferretti met with executives from Insentek, a company who had originally partnered with Professor Chenrong Chen to submit an application to design soil and water monitoring devices for Advance Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef challenge.

Despite being just shaded in the competition, Insentek were so impressed with Griffith they are looking to improve the relationship and possibly establish a business presence in Australia, with SE Queensland one of the major options.

“Griffith researchers are aggressively seeking commercial partners to optimise the public benefit of their research, and supercharge their innovations,” said Mr Ferretti.

“The business of Griffith Enterprise is to help facilitate relationships that can be of greatest benefit to both parties and the public.”

Griffith researchers in the renewable energy sector have been at the cutting edge of design and application of new power systems. Researchers such as Professor Zhang, Professor Chen, Professor Evan Grey and Professor Junwei Lu have led advances in manufacturing, networking, construction and power generation.

The construction of the Sir Samuel Griffith Building (N78) at the Nathan campus was able to focus a lot of this research into an iconic outcome as well as proof of concept.

“Griffith University punches above its weight in a variety of technology areas. The renewable energy space is certainly one of these areas where we have world-class expertise that is set to have broad economic, political, and societal impacts,” said Mr Ferretti.

“Renewables have changed in the last three or four years. Prices have dropped and industries looking for efficiencies are looking at renewables. This has dramatically improved the investment market in Australia, but even more so in Asia, where a strong market is demanding cleaner and greener solutions.”

There are a range of technologies people are looking toward in order to improve renewable power efficiency and compatibility, and Chinese companies (especially) are looking to partner with international research institutions to find answers to problems they are facing in their own country.

No one is prepared to say if the investment climate has turned permanently in favour of renewables, but Griffith researchers are in the right place at the right time.