Advancing digital transformation through an open innovation ecosystem

UNSW and Cisco collaborate with industry to create digital solutions in transport and to reduce the skills gap in the market.


Cisco is a worldwide technology leader that securely connects everything to make anything possible. Their purpose is to power an inclusive future for all by helping to reimagine applications, power hybrid work, secure enterprise, transform infrastructure, and meet sustainability goals.

As the world continues to digitise in all aspects of life – including work, study, and play – Cisco is supporting Australia’s industries and businesses to prepare for and accelerate their own digital transformations. Critical to meeting this goal is enabling businesses to access research, innovation and skills.

“There is a digital divide and skills gap in Australia that Cisco is addressing through our partnerships with industry and selected universities.”
James Stewart, National Industry Innovation Network Program Manager.

Cisco's long-term partnership with UNSW is actively addressing the critical area of digital transport. As transport systems serve as vital foundations for resilient businesses and communities, the demand for an integrated, sustainable, and dynamic transport system continues to grow.


To harness innovation in a dynamic and connected way, Cisco created Innovation Central, an initiative managed and led in partnership between Cisco and key Australian universities, with centres located across the country.

As part of Cisco’s National Industry Innovation Network (NIIN), Innovation Central Sydney (ICS) is an industry and science collaboration centre located at UNSW and acts as a ‘front door’ for industry.

The Cisco and UNSW partnership began in 2016 and focuses on advancing digital transformation through an open innovation ecosystem Since its inception, ICS has consistently delivered a series of successful projects, providing students with invaluable opportunities to collaborate closely with the Cisco team. For example, the partnership delivered the award-nominated Road Condition Monitoring Program – a Transport for NSW pilot, which involved the trial of world-first technology innovation in sensors to map NSW roads using public transport, such as buses, to identify maintenance requirements for cracks and potholes in real-time.

In 2022, Cisco and UNSW strengthened their partnership by appointing Professor Flora Salim as Cisco Chair in Digital Transport. As Chair, Prof. Salim plays a pivotal role in fostering technology development and driving the acceleration of digitisation and data-driven decision-making within Australia’s transport sector, creating valuable opportunities for growth and innovation.


The UNSW and Cisco partnership has provided a range of benefits to industry, students, and researchers, including:

  • Collaboration –the collaborative environment co-designs solutions and builds connections between students, researchers and industry.
  • Research expertise and technology - ICS provides access to next-generation technologies and on-site demonstrations, translating into R&D cost savings.
  • Talent pipeline - ICS internships are helping solve the skills gap by providing UNSW students with the opportunity to gain hands-on industry experience, including creative problem-solving skills.

The internships benefit both industry and students; students gain the edge they need to secure employment once they graduate, and industry benefits from efficient and cost-effective access to talent.

“Industry organisations require new talent who already have experience with the latest thinking in technology. Innovation Central at UNSW is providing that.”