Published: July 04, 2019

The world’s leading university in computer science, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will establish a project in Lot Fourteen on North Tce.

MIT, as it is universally known, will work with BankSA, Optus and the State Government to create a “living laboratory”.

The laboratory will bring together students, researchers and commercial interests to develop products which extract information from the massive quantities of data generated by modern devices such as mobile phones, banking services and satellite imagery.

It will drive research in machine learning and innovation.

“Data is the future,” Premier Steven Marshall said.

“The Living Lab means local researchers will have access to invaluable data to identify how we can drive sustainable population growth, create jobs and strengthen our economy.

“Furthermore, it will bolster South Australia’s entrepreneurial activity across a range of industries and ensure that this state remains at the forefront of global innovation and enterprise.”

MIT Professor Alex “Sandy” Pentland said Adelaide was identified as a prime location “due to its leadership in data analytics and machine learning”.

The project would aggregate data from lots of different sources to help government and business recognise trends and plan better.

“It’s a bit like rich census data,” he said.

He cited the example of bus services, saying if there was better data on how many people were using buses at what times and where, this would help planners provide the best, timely services.

A business which could track where people were would be better placed to decide where to open a new shop.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology is ranked the best university in the world for computer science and engineering, according to the highly regarded ShanghaiRanking. Overall, it is fourth best behind only Harvard, Stanford and Cambridge.


MIT – aka the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – is regarded as one of the world’s foremost institutions for scientific research and development. Established in 1861 and based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on the US east coast, it has 90 Nobel laureates. Its scientists or graduates have been responsible for the following world-changing inventions.

The World Wide Web Consortium: After essentially inventing the concept of a “world wide web” in 1989, British scientist Tim Berners-Lee moved to MIT in 1994 and created the consortium that established the technical standards around browsers and websites that formed the building blocks of the modern internet.

Email: Even before the internet, tech geeks were experimenting with networks – and in 1971, MIT graduate Ray Tomlinson sent the first email between two computers, selecting the @ symbol to delineate the user and the network. 

Transistor radio: William Shockley, one of the three inventors of the solid-state transistor, graduated from MIT in 1936. His invention directly led to radios, television and hearing aids. 

Wind tunnels: Invented at MIT in 1896, wind tunnels are now widely used for everything from airplane testing to urban design, sports and space travel.

The first-ever video game: In 1962, Steve Russell created Spacewar! for MIT’s new DEC PDP-1 computer. The game involved two spaceships attempting to shoot each other, and directly inspired the world’s first commercial arcade games. 

Robots: MIT has long been at the cutting-edge of robotics – its graduates have created everything from the Roomba vacuum cleaner to robots that perform extraordinarily precise tasks in surgery, manufacturing and the military.

Technicolor: Two MIT graduates invented Technicolor – the company that brought movies from the black and white era into full, vibrant colour. It took them 20 years to get the first colour film into cinemas but their work changed entertainment forever.

Akamai: You may not have heard of Akamai – unless you work in computer systems engineering. The company specialises in systems that move large amounts of data around the internet, and its technology now underpins up to 30% of all the world’s web traffic. 

Source:, Wikipedia,

Living labs bring together researchers, commercial companies, government workers and people drawn from the pool of likely customers to work together on developing products and services. The deep interaction keeps developers on track to meet real market needs.

BankSA chief executive Nick Reade said it was a unique opportunity.

“We need to identify the right interventions to help our economy grow,” he said.

“The power in the living lab lies in being able to pinpoint what the roadblocks are and generate valuable insights to propel the state forward.”

Optus Business managing director Simon Vatcher said the project would “tap into emerging markets and opportunities and satisfy the evolving needs of customers”.

Momentum is accelerating at Lot Fourteen with about 250 people working on site already and expectations that will increase to 1000 by the end of the year.

Those workers are in addition to about 400 contractors engaged in demolition and refurbishment work.

MIT has several divisions including the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) which has an annual $US63 million research budget.

MIT Professor Sandy Pentland with Premier Steven Marshall in what will be the new MIT Living Lab. Picture: Tricia Watkinson
MIT Professor Sandy Pentland with Premier Steven Marshall in what will be the new MIT Living Lab. Picture: Tricia Watkinson

Founded in 1963, its mission is pioneer new approaches to computing, develop fundamental technologies and conduct basic research.

Among spin-off companies it has spawned are data transfer provider Dropbox, web content delivery system Akamai, advanced robot developer Boston Dynamics and hardware maker iRobot, inventor of the Roomba vacuum cleaner.

Collectively, CSAIL spin-off companies generate annual revenue of $US2 trillion.

MIT is based in the US city of Cambridge, across the Charles River from Boston.

Its presence will add to Adelaide’s reputation as a leading education city.

As well as the three mainstream universities — Adelaide, Flinders and UniSA — Adelaide is home to a satellite campus of Carnegie Mellon and to Torrens University which is part of the Laureate International Universities network.

University College London operated an Adelaide campus until 2017 and retains a partnership with UniSA.

MIT has some outreach programs in Australia and New Zealand, including MIT student placements, a Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program and innovation workshops.

Teams from MIT have been regular competitors in the World Solar Challenge race from Darwin to Adelaide.

Trade Minister David Ridgway, BankSA boss Nick Reade, MIT Professor Sandy Pentland, Premier Steven Marshall, Optus Business managing director Simon Vatcher, and Dr Thomas Hardjono from MIT at the Lot Fourteen site on Thursday. Picture: Tricia Watkinson
Trade Minister David Ridgway, BankSA boss Nick Reade, MIT Professor Sandy Pentland, Premier Steven Marshall, Optus Business managing director Simon Vatcher, and Dr Thomas Hardjono from MIT at the Lot Fourteen site on Thursday. Picture: Tricia Watkinson

The MITbigdata Living Lab will add to a growing list of companies and organisations at Lot Fourteen.

The Australian Space Agency will occupy the old McEwin Building which has been gutted and is now being refurbished. The agency will manage a Mission Control facility and a Space Discovery Centre which will be open to the public.

The SmartSat CRC and the University of Adelaide’s Institute of Machine Learning will also have major presences on site.

Lot Fourteen already has a number of start-up and medium-sized companies on site as it attracts firms working in its strategic themes of space, defence, cyber security and creative arts technology.

These include satellite communicator Myriota, space tracker Inovor, rocket propulsion developer Neumann Space, life science company Presagen, IT consultants Chamonix, augmented intelligence researcher Datium and a raft of creative arts firms headed by Anton Andreacchio.

Satellite maker Fleet Space Technologies also will take space in the precinct.

Lot Fourteen will be home to an international centre for tourism, hospitality and food studies, an Innovation Centre tower building for start-up companies and the Aboriginal Art and Cultures Gallery — which was allocated $150 million in the recent State Budget.

World’s leading computer science university MIT stakes claim in Adelaide’s Lot Fourteen by Chris Russell originally seen in The Advertiser, 4 July 2019

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