The University of Sydney’s Faculty of Engineering is partnering with one of Australia’s leading commercial real-estate owners Investa Property Group and an Australian born technology company Willow in order to deliver a hands-on university course that connects academia with industry to solve real world problems.
Commencing in semester one this year, students are addressing global challenges in multi-disciplinary teams, with a focus on using the latest technologies to drive social and environmental change. In a university first, student groups will be analysing live equipment data from one of the smartest buildings in Australia, a circa $1 billion skyscraper at Sixty Martin Place, Sydney.
Sixty Martin Place co-owners Investa Commercial Property Fund (ICPF) and Gwynvill have provided the live data, enabling students to explore trends from across a number of systems including HVAC, Lift and Access Control data in order to propose solutions for sustainability initiatives, smarter maintenance practices and other solutions yet to be imagined.
This data is made available in a single, intuitive platform for students through technology company Willow. Willow provides a software platform that creates “digital twins” of built assets. The twin is a virtual replica of any built asset and funnels data from across design, equipment and live information into an easy-to-use interface. This twin enables building owners like Investa to manage the building with greater efficiency, fix problems before they occur, better manage sustainability and improve the occupant experience.
Through this course, students will be exposed to the application of digital twins in the built world first-hand and will be able to learn and contribute ideas that could shape the future of the built environment. The course work will culminate with the winning ideas “pitched” to Willow and Investa.
“Investa has been on a journey with digital twins for a number of years with Willow” said Nathan Lyon, Investa’s Head of Building Technology, “We’re excited to see what the students are able to come up with and push the envelope.”
Dale Brett, Willow’s Chief Product Officer commented on the project “Solving the big challenges that face our built world, things like sustainability, maintenance or cyber security, these big challenges require a collaborative approach. This project is a great example of different groups coming together to tackle a bigger issue.”
University of Sydney researcher and course supervisor, Dr Benjy Marks said “The concept of blending the physical with the digital is more relevant than ever. Understanding more deeply how we are using space in the built world has implications for cybersecurity, energy efficiencies, cost and of course, returning to physical spaces in a post-covid world. This collaboration between academia and industry, with a focus on holistic problem solving and real-world applications, is an exciting sign of things to come.”
About Willow

Willow is the digital twin for the built world. Willow is a global technology company that creates virtual representations of built assets for the real estate and infrastructure sectors. These digital twins enable our users to make better, more proactive, and data-led decisions in order to grow their profits, reduce their expenses and better manage risk.
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