Last year, SMART IoT initiatives co-ordinator Benoit Passot visited Canberra for the annual AFRAN forum to present information on the Digital Living Lab.

The forum – which is supported by the French embassy – promotes bilateral collaboration between France and Australia for research and innovation for both universities and industry.

Anne Rouault, the embassy’s scientific attaché, accepted an invitation to visit SMART and the University of Wollongong.

“The idea is to strengthen ties and to enable bilateral collaboration between the two countries, in particular to encourage researchers from both countries to collaborate, and participate in exchanges,” Benoit said.

“At SMART, through Senior Professor Pascal Perez, we already have strong links between the two countries.

“This is the first time that anyone from the French embassy has come to SMART to learn about our work, and we hope that this will be the start of a long conversation.

“There is even the possibility that we could host an AFRAN forum here in Wollongong, which would be very exciting.”

We had three presentations from SMART, Dr Thomas Plantard from the School of Information Technology, Professor Dianne Jolley School of Medicine and Health, and Dr Nicholas Jones from the Centre of Atmospheric Chemistry.

Later French post graduate students and researchers came for an informal meeting over coffee at SMART, followed by visits to the Innovation Campus, SMART, and the main campus.

Senior Professor Perez explains, “France has a strong industrial and academic expertise in telecommunication, water management and rail technology to name a few. These are key sectors of interest to the SMART Infrastructure Facility and we hope to reinforce research and development collaborations with key French partners. The support provided by the AFRAN network and the French Embassy will help us to establish these links.”