APR.Intern encourages Australian commercial innovation by connecting PhD students to opportunities for industry-based research projects

Glen Sheldon

Background and objectives of the case
Innovation in industry is critical for ensuring Australia’s economic prosperity. Universities play a key role in boosting commercial innovation, with PhD researchers representing a significant but underutilised source of talent. However, with Australia ranking last among OECD nations for industry-university collaboration, there is a clear need to create and incentivise partnerships between the academic and commercial sectors.
APR.Intern is a not-for-profit program aiming to boost Australian innovation by fostering research collaborations between academic and industry. The program provides a platform for facilitating the placement of PhD students into research internships with an industry partner of their choice. The program gives PhD students the opportunity to apply their analytical research expertise to the project while gaining experience in an industry setting, often working on the cutting edge of technology. Further, with the number of new graduates far outpacing that of available academic positions, participation in the APR.Intern program provides avenues for skill-building to prepare for careers outside of academia.
Operating nationally, APR.Intern is open to all universities and industry sectors, including small-to-medium and large enterprise as well as government agencies. It is an initiative of the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI), which has been placing mathematics students in industry-based internships since 2008. Rebranded to reflect program expansion beyond the mathematical sciences, APR.Intern facilitates internships for PhD students in all disciplines.
APR.Intern also seeks to increase the representation of women in STEM fields. The program is supported by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, through the ‘Supporting more women in STEM careers: Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) – National Research Internship Program’.