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Place and Community Framework

Principle 4

Principle 4 focuses on Innovation ecosystems and local economies. RMIT places will connect disciplines, industry and community partners to enrich innovation ecosystems and support economic development.

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RMIT pursues innovation and supports economic development with a mission to bring about a more inclusive and sustainable future for all. We have a proud history of civic leadership and social innovation, having played a leading role in responding to social and economic challenges and changing conditions at critical moments in time. RMIT continues to meet the major challenges of our time with optimism, creativity, vision, and a commitment to working in partnership – across disciplines, industries, and communities – to solve problems and seize opportunities.

As a leading public institution in the city of Melbourne, we have a strong reputation for bringing the right people to the table to meet common challenges. With deep relationships across industry, government and communities, we connect and convene diverse partnerships and networks linked to ambitious impact goals and the pursuit of mutual benefit for people and planet.

RMIT acts as an ‘anchor institution’ across all the places in which we are embedded. We partner with people and places for the long haul, nurturing a collaborative and inclusive vision that celebrates, involves and is relevant to a broad and varied community of learners and beneficiaries. We actively enrich innovation ecosystems to meet local community needs. We tune into local conditions, making best use of existing assets and resources, and attracting new interests and partnerships to create a diverse and dynamic mix of players. We invest in critical infrastructure to enable innovation, facilitate shared problem solving across institutional boundaries, encourage experimentation and support the growth and scale of new ideas, enterprises, and solutions.

How this could look in practice

RMIT creates spaces that:

  • Support shared problem-solving across disciplines, institutional and community boundaries. We design spaces with creative and collaborative working in mind. These spaces are versatile and adaptable; they feel ‘neutral’ and can be used by new groups that form from diverse origins to tackle new challenges and pursue new missions together.
  • Encourage and enable community engagement in research, learning and applied innovation activities. RMIT offers windows into work in progress, sparking curiosity, demystifying research and experimentation and bringing it into the realm of public engagement. These spaces – and the ways in which they are programmed – also offer opportunities for public participation in research and experimentation.
  • Enable prototyping and experimentation. We use our precincts as ‘test beds’ where we develop and experiment with radical new options and solutions. We host ‘living labs’, prototype new approaches and demonstrate what is possible on a small scale to ignite curiosity and imagination, as well as unlock further support and investment.
  • Enhance and extend learning and impact. We bring results and findings to life so that new and diverse audiences can engage with our work and have supportive opportunities to take new evidence, technology, and practice models into their own work and contexts. Our precincts feature showcases, demonstrations, installations, and opportunities for immersive learning. These may be open and accessible to general audiences or may be carefully curated and programmed to reach specific audiences.

Activating neighbourhoods and precincts
In all the places in which we operate, RMIT aims to:

  • Grow partnerships with local and co-located organisations to generate shared benefit, linking in with existing ambitions, challenges, and investments as well as skills needs. These organisations could be government agencies, private companies, or community-based organisations.
  • Attract new industry and community partners into the neighbourhood that will enhance shared ambitions and place-shaping efforts. Encourage a diverse and dynamic mix of players of different sizes and types. These partnerships may in some cases be carefully curated to serve specific missions (such as reversing climate change, tackling housing insecurity or transforming care).
  • Develop inclusive local economic strategies that bring jobs and enterprise to the district and offers new development and employment opportunities to those living locally, and/or traditionally marginalised and excluded groups.
  • Broker opportunities for student learning and development through co-located industry and community partnerships. We give learners much-needed industry experiences and enable them to work on challenges that bring tangible benefit to the locality.
  • Create critical infrastructure for innovation, such as: running events and strategic programs across the precinct that actively foster new connections, partnerships and projects; supporting new projects and enterprises through incubators and accelerators and maintaining networks of engagement, support and investment for growth and scale.

Example: The Social Innovation Hub, Melbourne

The RMIT Social Innovation Hub is an inclusive and collaborative co-working space where organisations, technology, research, innovators and ideas collide to co-create impactful solutions to wicked social challenges.

Located near the emerging Social Innovation Precinct in City North, the Hub co-locates a range of organisations doing innovative and experimental work to drive positive change in key areas of health, justice, social services, economics, and education. Its teams act as brokers and convenors of social innovation, bringing diverse partners together to explore challenges and find solutions through actuators, start-ups, social enterprises and robust collaboration.

Key centres clustered in and around the Hub include Centre for Innovative Justice, the Workforce Development Institute and the Health Transformation Lab.

The Social Innovation Hub regularly hosts students, academics and industry professionals as part of collaborative workshops and events.

Example: Brunswick Design District, Melbourne Content

Brunswick Design District (BDD) is a precinct supporting a creative ecosystem of businesses, start-ups, designers, artists, makers, musicians, venues, and world class education. It aims to connect people, places, and partnerships to strengthen the existing creative community, and encourage new enterprises to set up and grow.

Since 1888, Brunswick has been home to a mix of industries from clay pits, quarries and brickworks to textile and footwear manufacturers. Today it’s an eclectic mix of creative industries and practitioners, music venues, galleries, café’s, bars, and a hub for design research and education. Building upon Brunswick’s creative heritage, BDD is working to position the district as a nationally and globally recognised hub for innovation, creativity and design, that supports the growth of local creative industries, and as a result, other businesses in the district.

A partnership of Merri-bek City Council, RMIT and Creative Victoria, BDD works with the creative/design community to support innovation, entrepreneurship and ideas; create shared and affordable spaces for collaboration and creativity; and strengthen pathways to education, research and employment to grow jobs and enterprises.

Brunswick locals enjoy a Fashion & Textiles exhibition at RMIT’s Brunswick campus.

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