Professor Swee Mak is Director Strategic Innovation and RMIT Innovation Professor, a role that he has held since January 2017.
In this role, Swee catalyses and leads the development of new innovation initiatives that help RMIT researchers create value and impact from their research. These include a broad range of skills development, innovation coaching, seed funding and thought leadership programs.
Swee joined RMIT in January 2015 as Director of the Design Research Institute where he led efforts to create impact from design research. In late 2015, Swee was asked to lead the early stage development of RMIT’s accelerator and incubator initiative (now called Activator). In 2016, Swee led the establishment of the Design and Creative Practice Enabling Capability Platform whilst also playing a key role in developing a number of strategic funding schemes aimed at creating value and impact from research.
Prior to joining RMIT, Swee was a senior executive at CSIRO where he worked for 23 years. Swee was the Director of the Future Manufacturing National Research Flagship at CSIRO between 2011-2014. Before that Swee held a number of senior leadership roles, including Deputy Chief (Industry) at one of CSIRO’s largest Division, Materials Science and Engineering.
Swee is a highly experienced innovation and research leader with an extensive track record in leading multi-disciplinary teams, translating research to industry, establishing strategic industry partnerships, research investment, commercialisation of technology, managing complex large research portfolios and providing thought leadership in support of policy and strategy development.
He attained an international research profile through his work in developing sustainable materials and manufacturing technologies. His extensive track record of research translation included the establishment of a new Australian business, Hyssil P/L, to commercialise a high performance lightweight materials technology developed by Swee and his team at CSIRO. Swee also served on the board of HySSIL P/L between 2006-08 to oversee technology transfer. Swee has personally delivered research to 30 firms and government agencies in Australia and overseas. As Director of the Future Manufacturing Flagship Swee led the delivery of research from a diversified $100m/yr portfolio of research activities with 300 partners across multiple industry segments including automotive, aerospace, health, resources, energy, defence and manufacturing.
Swee has extensive experience in building industry collaboration and partnerships. For instance, he has been involved in establishing a number of significant strategic alliances for CSIRO. These achievements have been recognised through numerous organisational awards, including a CSIRO Medal for Business Excellence in 2010.
Swee is also a highly respected thought leader and advisor to industry and Government. He contributed extensively to the Prime Minister’s Manufacturing Task force in 2012, was a member of CEDA’s Advanced Manufacturing Advisory Group, chaired the South East Melbourne Innovation Precinct and was a Board member of VCAMM. Swee has also provided significant national leadership in innovation through the establishment of the Australian Design Integration Network (ADIN) and the Australian Additive Manufacturing Network.
Swee obtained both his undergraduate and PhD degrees in engineering from Monash University, an MBA (Executive) from the Australian Graduate School of Management and is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He was a Senior Fellow at University of Melbourne, is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia and also received a Williamson’s Fellowship in 2008.