IBM (NYSE: IBM) will open a new lab focused on “smarter planet” initiatives in Australia.

The company says the facility will be its first that combines research and development into one organization.

Some 150 people will be hired. The lab is to be located at the University of Melbourne. It is scheduled to open early next year.

The is one of IBM’s highest profile initiatives.

"By combining research and development into one lab to focus on creating smarter planet solutions, IBM is creating a new kind of innovation centre in Australia – unlike anything the company has done before,” said John Kelly III, who directs IBM Research.

“The new lab will work closely with leading Australian scientists and engineers from academia, government and commercial entities to extend IBM’s global R&D footprint and further the impact of its smarter planet strategy,” he added.

IBM spelled out three priorities for the lab:

• “Smarter Natural Resource Management: the focus will be to innovate in a number of key areas related to resource discovery, production, supply chain and operations using the most advanced techniques in monitoring, analytics and automation. These techniques will be applied to resources such as oil and gas, minerals, water and food. These resources will be considered in various contexts including sourcing, management and use, and particularly their role in livable cities.

• “Smarter Natural Disaster Management: the focus will be to work on a number of projects that expand and integrate current expertise in areas such as real-time event (stream) processing, weather modeling, traffic management and mobility analytics to assist in the planning and management of evacuation, communication and emergency response.

• “Collaborations already have begun with the University of Melbourne in computational life sciences, and the new lab will extend this work to a broader set of topics in healthcare and life science analytics.”

IBM employs some 10,000 people in the Triangle area.

Get the latest news alerts: at Twitter.