An international collaboration that already has produced influential research in mother and infant health will continue with the renewal of a partnership between Scotland's University of Dundee and UTS.
Professor Margaret Smith OBE and Professor Nic Beech from the University of Dundee were in Sydney recently to sign a renewal of the Key Technology Partnership (KTP) agreement between UTS and Dundee. Established in July 2013, the partnership will continue for at least another three years.
"It's been really exciting to see the relationship develop across a range of areas – to the position where we now have three strong work streams within the agreement that are actually making a difference to the lives of individuals globally," Professor Smith said.
The first of these is a very strong collaboration in mother and infant health, which published the Lancet commission guidelines on this subject. According to Professor Smith, the guidelines are influencing maternal and infant care.
"They're having a significant influence on health policy and are being adopted by WHO [World Health Organization]. This is a very positive illustration of something that's really making a difference."
The second work stream is looking at the social dimensions of health. Researchers at Dundee and UTS are examining the long-term conditions in more vulnerable groups with emphasis on improvements in the environment.
A third area is in digital applications in health and lifestyle. This particular collaboration has managed to secure external funding from the highly competitive Microsoft Research PhD Scholarship Program and now has a joint PhD student. A fourth area is in forensics, where UTS and Dundee both undertake world-leading research.
With the renewal of the KTP agreement, the focus will continue to be on transforming lives through a number of key work streams of activity, including health and cultural well-being, and sustainability and design.
Professor Beech said that one of the things that really attracted Dundee is UTS's focus on big ideas that could change the world; something he acknowledges is also true of Dundee.
He described looking at questions around, for example, "How do we enable aging populations to maintain well-being and health? And how do we deal with that economically?"
"Those sorts of questions don't fit neatly into a single department or, in our case, a single school. Instead, we are working across disciplines to try and engage between ways of pushing the theory beyond its comfort zone."
Beech explained that Dundee and UTS want to engage practitioners and people who are working on these big ideas – or problems – in reality.
"Bringing those together is really the way that we would see the future. Because then, you start to get key parts of research designed around understanding, analysing and then, obviously, trying to find ways to solve these big societal problems."
Of course many of these problems are shared around the world and Beech conceded that the problem the two institutions have is one of riches.
"There're so many great ideas that we could explore. It's about selecting the ones that would really have the biggest impact."
According to Beech, the KTP partnership between the two institutions is, "A model partnership in that it operates at all sorts of individual-to-individual levels, but also at university-to-university level."
Smith and Beech are both very enthusiastic about the next chapter of the collaboration between Dundee and UTS. In 2017 there are plans for more site visits and, potentially, looking at an opportunity to showcase jointly the work that they've been doing.