A new software research centre at the University of Auckland is being officially launched today, although the centre has been up and running since December last year.
Auckland UniServices, the university’s commercialisation company, says it has invested in the centre to promote growth in New Zealand’s ICT sector.
“Right now, the major focus for the centre is to take the word out to commercial software developers and commercial users that the university has the facility and capability to assist in research and development in the software and ICT areas,” says John Corey, director for the Centre for Software Innovation.
Corey’s mission is to raise awareness that research is an important aspect of software, as well hardware, science and physics.
“That is probably a new theme in New Zealand: trying to get the industry to embrace research in science, particularly in software, where the assumption has been to buy what is on the net and has been developed elsewhere,” he says.
“But, in reality, the companies that are succeeding in software development are the ones that are embracing the philosophy of research; moving to new platforms, new architecture and going out and breaking new ground,” Corey says.
The centre aims to generate revenue for UniServices, which will then be returned to the university to subsidise other research and academic work.
“On the academic side, less than 20% of academic costs are covered directly by tuition,” he says. “Without research — both commercial and government funded — the university wouldn’t be able to deliver the kind of academic results that it has been delivering. It wouldn’t be up in the top 50 [universities] in the world without that extra revenue and that extra driving force behind good-quality research.”
The Centre for Software Innovation will focus on usability and quality testing, as well as on applications and software within the communications and personal use area, including PDAs, cell phones, desktops and laptops.
“We also work hard in the area of security and trusted systems. We have a number of experts in that area,” Grey says. “Other areas of focus include 3D virtualisation and virtual reality,” he says.
Developing basic 3D technology, and making it available to the marketplace, is one of the centre’s goals.
Corey wants to make clear that the centre will not compete in the area of software development.
“We may do some software development but mostly for proof of concept. There are plenty of companies with good skills in New Zealand that can do software development.”
The centre is currently looking for research staff.