Alexandre Mendes - Senior Lecture in Computer Science


Alexandre Mendes is the Senior Lecture in Computer Science at the University of Newcastle, specialising in AI and robotics.

Alex Mendes is encouraging tech startups and entrepreneurs to come to Newcastle to collaborate with academics to improve their business through research and innovation.

“There is so much potential here for businesses to access the university and work closely with the engineering, computing and information technology disciplines.”

Alex says it’s easier for entrepreneurs in Newcastle to connect with University of Newcastle (UoN) researchers than if they lived in a capital city and were trying to reach experts at a local university. Managers at the I2N Landing Pad can simply set up an introduction for them with the appropriate UoN academic and allow a conversation to start immediately.

“Large city universities target multi-million dollar projects and it's hard to get an academic to respond to an email enquiry. However, in Newcastle, a small or medium-sized company has a better chance of accessing research and development funds, where the government matches up to $50,000 in investment, dollar for dollar. Also, there is an easy access path to our students via Work Integrated Learning and other types of industry placements.”

According to the Computer Science lecturer, Newcastle is in a unique position to be an Australian leader as a Smart City because it has a team of skilled and accessible university academics; a council open to new possibilities; local businesses willing to invest; and importantly, the town is small enough to experiment with smart city applications.

“For example, if the City wants to test an integrated, smart traffic light system to ease congestion, it can be done in Newcastle without risking major disruptions. A similar experiment in Sydney would potentially cause commuter chaos.”

Newcastle is already experimenting with the Smart City model. Data collected from sensors on smart poles installed around the city provide a wealth of information which can save people time in traffic, or when finding a place to park. The smart poles also save the Council thousands of dollars in electricity bills. Street lamps switch off when the roads are empty and when sensors detect movement on the footpath or street, the lights turn on again.

Alex Mendes moved from Brazil’s largest city, São Paulo (population 12 million), to Newcastle in NSW in 2003. During the past two decades he’s seen dramatic improvements in the city. When he first moved to Newcastle, the region was reeling from the BHP steelworks closure in 1999 and the earthquake a decade before.

“Many of the shops in the CBD were boarded up. Over the years it has improved a lot as a city, becoming much more liveable, and new developments have enticed people back to the centre. Business has been revived and now the city is ten times better – before you couldn’t find a restaurant open after 9 pm. Now it’s a much more interesting place to live, vibrant and better for families and innovators.”

We are inviting you to join our innovation community in Newcastle, for free!

We are offering domestic and international innovators a three-month free membership at the Landing Pad, until June 2023.

The membership includes hot desk passes and/or a two person office space with access to the maker space, seminar and event spaces, various software platforms such as Adobe and Office 365, commercial business address and more. Explore facilities and membership options here.

Apply now button