Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has congratulated the University of Wollongong for its “extraordinary” investment in innovation, speaking at the launch of the institution’s $80 million molecular research hub in Canberra on Wednesday.
Joining UOW’s top brass at Parliament House, Mr Turnbull said the new Molecular Horizons facility would make the university “very popular” thanks to a high-powered, $7 million Titan Krios microscope.
The “cryo-electron” machine will be the second and most advanced of its kind in Australia when the building opens in 2019, and will help researchers to develop new ways of detecting and fighting diseases.
“This is a time of enormous opportunity; I want to congratulate the University of Wollongong for the way in which it is embracing it,” Mr Turnbull said.
“You will be – you’ll become very popular, that extremely scenic train ride to Wollongong will become even better patronised.”
Mt Turnbull said investment in science and technology was the key to future economic growth and would help Australia avoid a “hard landing” at the end of the construction boom.
“To be quite clear mining is not going out of date, resources are not going out of date but there was a once in a generation construction boom and that clearly was not going to continue every year for twenty years in to the future,” he said.
“So what you are doing Vice-Chancellor, Chancellor and all of your colleagues, you are leading the way.”
A large cohort of UOW officials and researchers travelled to Canberra to launch the building, which the university says is its largest-ever self-funded research infrastructure investment.
Construction on the centre will begin in 2017, however some of the high-tech equipment will arrive in the coming months allowing research to begin right away.
It will be located in the university’s new medical science precinct, next to the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute at the main Wollongong campus.