AMSI: From APR.Intern’s mathematical roots grows the future of STEM research innovation

Australian Postgraduate Research (APR) Intern, formally AMSI Intern, has undergone an extraordinary journey of growth and reinvention, to emerge as a critical player in the university and industry collaboration space.

APR.Intern is the only national all sector – all discipline internship program placing PhD students into Australian businesses, accelerating innovation through short-term industry and university research collaborations.

Following favourable assessment in the Australian Council of Learned Academies’ 2015 Review of Research Training, AMSI management secured the support of the Australian Government. Through a new rebate, APR.Intern will place 1400 STEM focused PhD students into Australian industry by the end of 2020. Positioning the program as a leader in industry research internships, this funding signals the Federal Government’s confidence in the program and its capacity to expand on a national scale.

With mathematics and statistics underpinning STEM, AMSI is perfectly placed to deliver and strengthen this program through its national university membership.

Further backing for programs such as APR.Intern has also come from the Innovation and Science Australia (ISA), Australia 2030: Prosperity through Innovation report, which supports critical investment to strengthen capability and ensure supply of skills into the future.

APR.Intern’s expanded STEM focus and strengthened collaboration is now positioned to drive placements from within the mathematical sciences at a time when these skills are needed most in industry. The program is working with industry and academic partners to strengthen the understanding of the importance of mathematics as the foundation of commercial innovation.

Since its beginnings in 2009 as a small program aimed at giving maths and stats PhDs experience in industry, AMSI has always believed in the program’s potential and the value of research-industry collaboration.

The challenge — to change how academic research is valued as a pathway to innovation, economic growth and future sustainability and prosperity. And, to convince industry of the commercial innovation value of mathematics and statistics. This meant
building confidence in the program model and PhD research engagement as a gateway to specialist research and development capability, which was a significant challenge at a time when there were few funding incentives and industry was more sceptical about the value of PhDs.

In an Australian first, a three-year co-investment partnership in 2014 saw APR.Intern join forces with some of Australia’s leading universities. Strengthening industry collaboration, this academic endorsement has led to increased rates of repeat business and long-term collaborations that have seen individual industry partners take on as many as 17 students to date.

Today there is wider recognition of the value and impact of accessing specialist academic research capability. Postgraduates are being
seen as a real and critical innovation investment, as companies seek to expand in-house capability. Equally, universities are also turning towards industry and the opportunity to drive high-impact innovation within SMEs, large corporate and government agencies.

Providing a taste of what’s ahead, the program’s recent partnership with Defence Science and Technology Group will see the placement of 100 interns over four years, many in the mathematical sciences, with further industry partnerships underway.

Cate Ballard – National Program Manager, APR.Intern

Cate Ballard


Cate started as the Business Development Manager for APR.Intern in September 2011. Her role, through the placement of postgraduate students, is to develop and grow the postgraduate internship business of AMSI. Prior to working in the APR.Intern program, Cate worked at The International College of Management Sydney in a dual role as an Industry Training/Learning & Development Manager and Business Development Manager. Cate began her professional life in management in the hotel industry. She graduated from Newcastle University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Business in Tourism and Communications.


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