The e-mobility sector in Australia is getting a charge-up, thanks to a $1.5 million investment to The University of Queensland from the family foundation of energy entrepreneur Trevor St Baker.
The Trevor and Judith St Baker Family Foundation’s donation will contribute toward a $3 million five-year research fellowship that will aim to drive Australian electric vehicle innovation.
The Foundation’s namesake and co-founder, Trevor St Baker, said the research would focus on smart-charging infrastructure and analyse tariff schemes that would support EV adoption, with the goal of increasing employment in the growing sector.
“E-mobility research and innovation are developing exponentially and can lead to increased commercial and employment opportunities in the industry,” Mr St Baker said.
“Brisbane company Tritium is a perfect example of how university innovation can lead to commercialisation. Tritium has grown from an idea developed by three students from The University of Queensland into a global company that now employs hundreds of people around the world.”
“Of those employees, 55 are graduates from Australian universities, which demonstrates the extraordinary opportunity this sector offers.”
A global search for the inaugural St Baker Research Fellow in Electromobility is currently underway.
Professor Vicki Chen, Executive Dean UQ Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology, said the St Baker Fellow will lead research activities directed toward advancing the performance, economics and uptake of e-mobility globally.
“This is a rare opportunity for someone to contribute to research that will inform public policy, investment decisions, technology innovation, business models, and community behaviour in support of the transition to sustainable, low-emission, electric-powered transportation,” Professor Chen said.
“Thanks to the generosity of Trevor and Judith St Baker, UQ will accelerate its position as global leader in e-mobility technology.”
Earlier this year, Tritium launched the world’s most advanced DC fast charger, which is the first to introduce modular scalable charging (MSC). The technology enables chargers to be upgraded in much the same way that RAM can be added to a computer.
Tritium Engineering Program Manager and UQ graduate, Harry Watson, is one of the bright sparks behind the development of the world-first technology.
“As an industry in its infancy, e-mobility typically struggles to attract workers with a strong understanding of the very complex and niche technology,” Mr Watson said.
“By exposing more students to e-mobility at UQ, we’ll attract a broader pool of graduate employees, which will benefit both Tritium and the green transport industry in the long term.”
“The unique challenges that UQ’s research will address will also reduce development risks for Tritium, allowing us to develop better, cheaper and more efficient technology.”
The research grant has come at a critical juncture, considering the growing number of countries that have committed to banning the sale of petrol- and diesel-fuelled vehicles over the next decade.
The donation complements UQ’s Tritium e-Mobility Visiting Fellowship held by Dr Jake Whitehead.