Niki Ellis | Innovating in Research Management

Innovating in Research Management

innovationAfter spending 10 years in government and 10 years in the private sector, Niki spent 10 years in academia, working to develop new models of collaborative research. The gap between research and practice was famously described in an article in Nature as the Valley of Death. In short most research ends up as a publication in an erudite journal or parked in a bottom drawer somewhere. Niki’s work has shown that industry is prepared to invest funds for research if it knows the research will be relevant, actionable, and therefore have impact.

Niki was appointed as Foundation Professor and Director of the Centre for Military and Veterans’ Health in 2005. This was a collaboration between the Departments of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs and the Universities of Queensland, South Australia and Charles Darwin University. Ultimately university politics got the better of this collaboration, but before doing so the potential value of working with community/industry partners to define a relevant research agenda and deliver timely, usable outputs was demonstrated.

The first External review in July 2007 ‘was impressed by the innovative and ambitious concept behind the Centre and commends the current Director for achieving such a wide range of successful outputs in the short time since her appointment in 2005’.

Niki followed this with the role of Foundation Professor and CEO of the Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research at Monash University. In this capacity she took what she had learned from her experience at CMVH and applied them to a situation in which there was greater potential for success with strong commitment from all industry and academic partners, a realistic budget and operating in a system that was not too small, and not too large – the personal injury insurance sector.
ISCRR was awarded the 2012 Business Higher Education Roundtable Ashley Goldsworthy Award for Sustained Collaboration between Business and Higher Education, jointly with MUARC for Monash.

An external review of ISCRR in 2012 found that ISCRR had delivered value to funders beyond the traditional research model and an ROI of more than 3. ‘Many staff within partner organisations consider that ISCRR’s performance is attributable to a large degree to its leadership. They believe that the skills and style of the CEO and the CRO complement each other well. Partners value the CEO’s ability to understand political environments within partner organisations and respond accordingly, as well as her stakeholder management skills’.

Niki is now providing consulting services to universities and other research organisations. Her current projects include developing a framework for measuring impact for the Parenting Research Centre.

See Selected Presentations for further information about her work at CMVH and ISCRR.