Griffith University’s new Vice President (Industry and External Engagement) says the Australian university sector is a critical resource for the nation but could certainly improve its engagement with community and industry.
Joining Griffith in late 2020, Dr Peter Binks has responsibility for guiding and supporting the University’s engagement strategy.
“Our universities contribute enormously to making Australia a stronger and better society, through graduates in all fields and at the same time we invest billions of dollars in research, which has great potential benefit”
“Our universities contribute enormously to making Australia a stronger and better society, through graduates in all fields and at the same time we invest billions of dollars in research, which has great potential benefit,” he said.
“Our challenge is that we too often do both these things at arms’ length from the communities we serve and support. We need regular and productive engagement with communities and organisations.”
Dr Binks began his career in science but has spent most of the last 30 years in the corporate and not-for-profit sectors. He has held senior leadership positions with international firms BHP, Telstra and McKinsey in Sydney, Toronto, Melbourne, and San Francisco.
Dr Binks has also worked at the smaller end of the business spectrum, running a startup nanotechnology company (Nanotechnology Victoria), and a national scholarship foundation (the John Monash Scholarships).
He served on the Boards of medtech and energytech firms and the Institute of Railway Technology, and held advisory roles with the Defence Science & Technology Organisation and the Centre for Policy Development.
Over the last 15 years, much of his work has been at the interface between industry and universities, as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Business Higher Education Round Table (BHERT), the General Sir John Monash Foundation, and interim CEO at the Garnett Passe & Rodney Williams Memorial Foundation. Most recently he was University Partnerships Director for Melbourne-based accelerator and seed fund Skalata Ventures.
Dr Binks’ arrival at the University comes at a critical time, with Griffith now ranked in the top 250 universities in the world and annual research income approaching $100 million.
While reputationally Griffith has made excellent gains in recent years, he believes that within Australia the University is not considered quite as active or successful as some of its peers in building strong beneficial partnerships.
Dr Binks says there is considerable opportunity to identify and capture, enhance and grow external partnerships.
“We have brilliant activities and assets, and great people,” Dr Binks said.
“Few universities in Australia can boast centres which are as strong as the Institute for Glycomics, or the Queensland Conservatorium, or capabilities and distinctive as our Nursing and Midwifery or Environmental portfolio, or our array of activities with First Nations groups.
“The University has systematically put in place dozens of partnerships over the last three years, including a Logan-based partnership with the Paul Ramsay Foundation ($5.5 million, signed in 2020).
“In the last year Griffith Enterprise has also helped to establish exciting partnerships with Bentley Systems, Gilmour Space Technologies, and NanoString, while the Institute for Glycomics continues to build on what is a tremendously professional partnership approach.”
“The challenge is now to lift Griffith’s ambitions even higher.”
His view on opportunities before the University are clear.
“Every outward-facing activity in the University should have an identified beneficiary, namely a natural partner as part of a considered approach to building partnerships.
“A partnership is not a transaction but a relationship. It should be mutually beneficial, long-term, respectful, and robust.”
Read more about Dr Peter Binks’ stellar start in science and his transition to the corporate world in New Year, New Appointments, Project and Programs.