Research Directions - Infrastructure

The infrastructure essential to the effective operation of ARNTE consists of two components:

  • Existing infrastructure of the ARNTE member groups and laboratories
  • New infrastructure created specifically for the purpose of ARNTE's operation.

The existing infrastructure of ARNTE comprises a large collection of laboratories with equipment that often is specialized. The ARNTE team has available a large pool of equipment that ranges from physics-based spectroscopy equipment to diverse facilities for chemical synthesis and analysis and a collection of state-of-the-art biochemistry and biology laboratory equipment. These facilities are often expensive to purchase and maintain, and accordingly it is not feasible for each university, or in some cases even each capital city, to acquire some of these facilities. Thus, the connections established by the existence of the ARNTE network will lead to the facilitation of access to specialized equipment to Australian researchers whose research could benefit from such access, and enhance the scope of collaborations based on shared expertise as well as facilitated equipment access.

Secondly, ARNTE will enhance awareness of the wide range of equipment available and its capabilities. This is expected to lead to ARNTE team members thinking "outside the box" and using instruments, facilities, techniques, and methodologies in their research that otherwise they may not have thought of. Thus, we expect synergy and additional creativity to be brought about by the sharing of infrastructure within ARNTE.

Thirdly, we expect that financial benefits will be incurred as existing large, expensive equipment will be utilized more efficiently by a larger number of users, instead of each node or university trying to purchase and maintain its own pieces of equipment. Higher usage will result in more efficient operation of instruments, allowing running costs, service, maintenance, and update costs to be spread among more user hours, and accordingly reduce the hourly charges.

The new infrastructure created specifically for the purpose of ARNTE's operation comprises the communication facilities that are foremost exemplified by the ARNTE web sites with registers of participants, their skills and expertise, and equipment available at each team laboratory. Such ease of access to comprehensive listings greatly facilitates the establishment of new connectivities, which is a key purpose of ARNTE. It will considerably enhance awareness of the physical infrastructure available within Australia.

An instructive precedent is the web-based register of SA-based biotechnology equipment that was collected and set up last year by BioInnovation SA. This register allows academic researchers and industrial companies in SA (and other States/Territories) to search efficiently for specific infrastructure and equipment available in Adelaide, and provides contact details and details about how to access the listed facilities. The register has already resulted in a number of cases where particularly companies were able to locate equipment and expertise that they had been previously unaware of and that assisted them in their research efforts.