PRIME leads Innovation Hub Summits in Sydney and Melbourne

PRIME has held summits on its Innovation Hub (iHub) for Affordable Heating and Cooling initiative in Sydney and Melbourne. Supported by AIRAH and the CSIRO, the iHub is being proposed as a key mechanism for facilitating the HVAC&R industry’s transition to a low-emissions future, stimulating jobs growth, and showcasing HVAC&R innovations.

Attracting participants from all facets of the industry, the iHub Summits presented an overview on the initiative, and provided those in attendance with a chance to provide much sought-after feedback.  

The iHub concept has bold aims, aspiring to create more than 200 jobs from new products and services, retain Australian entrepreneurs in Australia, have innovative low-energy designs applied in at least 10 major construction projects, and establish Australia’s only dedicated undergraduate degree in Building Services.

Both virtual and physical spaces where a community of industry innovators, designers and educators can easily access knowledge and research infrastructure, the iHubs will make it easier to incubate ideas and reshape industry practice to our future needs. 

“The Innovation Hub has the potential to revolutionise the industry, and these Summits are essential if we want to spread the word and gather feedback,” says AIRAH CEO Tony Gleeson, M.AIRAH. 

“We attracted a great spread of attendees, who included architects, engineers, facility managers, contractors, and those in the manufacturing space. We also had representatives from universities, Sustainability Victoria, and the Department of Environment and Energy. To see these sectors from the built environment represented at the Summits was tremendously encouraging.” 

The morning session of the Summits kicked off with an “Introduction to the iHub” presentation from Dr Stephen White, F.AIRAH, from the CSIRO, followed by a workshop discussion on “Integrated Building Design Studios”. 

“The Innovation Hub aims to incentivise industry to collaborate across disciplinary silos, encourage innovation, share learnings and inspire the next generation of students,” says AIRAH executive manager – government relations and technical services Phil Wilkinson, F.AIRAH. “Having workshops like this help us understand how we can have more stakeholders involved and ensure its success.”

The Summit’s second session was reserved for a workshop on “Research and Innovation toward Net-Zero Energy Buildings”. Buoyed by a theme of “collaborate to innovate”, the iHub proposes research and innovation in targeted areas, aiming to focus R&D within the HVAC&R sector where it can be of most benefit.

Says Wilkinson: “How can we make research on longer-term net-zero energy building transformation attractive and valued by typical Australian HVAC&R companies? And, if not attractive to all, then what niches should we target? How do we build a culture of research collaboration rather than research silos? These are the issues we’re trying to address with PRIME and the initiation of the Innovation Hub for Affordable Heating and Cooling.”     

In collaboration with AIRAH and the CSIRO, PRIME plans to continue to engage with industry, HVAC&R professionals and educational institutions among others to explore the next steps in implementing specific iHub projects across the country this year. 

PRIME is a whole-of-industry pathway to a low-emissions future, established over five years of industry consultations and visioning work. 

For more information about the Innovation Hub for Affordable Heating and Cooling, go to www.airah.org.au/ihub.

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