How is the research and innovation ecosystem evolving, and what is our role in reshaping it?

This theme explores the future of research at RMIT into 2022 and beyond.

The global RMIT community shared their thoughts on how the changing world around us challenges our understanding of research excellence, redefines our approach to impact, and shapes our contribution to creating a better world as we partner with industry and work across disciplines.

Key insights that emerged from the discussions include:

  • Supporting adaptive changes across complex systems, places and domains.
  • Creating value at the human technical interface.
  • Driving an agenda for sustainability, security and wellbeing.
  • A new spectrum of networks for strategic partnerships.
  • Pursuing transformation through collaboration.

As part of the engagement around RMIT NEXT and RMIT’s next strategy, an expert panel of industry and government experts also shared their views on what research in a post-COVID-19 world may look like in a Community of Practice event.

In the panel discussion, Dr Hajkowicz, likened our current situation to the Spanish flu, corresponding forgotten depression and of course, the roaring twenties where we experienced an extraordinary rate of productivity growth as a result of innovations in manufacturing, science and technology innovations and the introduction of electricity. Like today, our innovations are booming – our work in general-purpose technologies Artificial Intelligence, biotechnology, digital science data science.

He is confident about our advancements in general-purpose technologies, along with our continual investment in research and development, to create a stronger economy and escape the COVID-19 slump. Research will be the key to getting us to the other side of this crisis.

Catherine Livingstone, Chancellor of UTS, Chairman of Commonwealth Bank of Australia, believes that to understand a post-COVID-19 world, we need to look at pre-COD-19 times. “Pre-COVID there were problems emerging in the economy”. She said that “A lack of diversity in our economy is catching up with us”.

The key to thriving post-COVID-19 lies in investing in our intellect. “We need to harness the mindset that has really emerged strongly through the need for people to acquire digital skills”. While we may become more risk-averse, there is hope.

Learners will look at micro-credentialing and fast education – areas that RMIT is thriving in. She believes that having a line of sight and working together with businesses is key. “Engagement and collaboration needs to be more overt, understood and encouraged”. Dr Gillian Sparkes, Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability Victoria, shared a similar, positive outlook for the future. She reaffirms our need to build our intellectual capital and to think operationally to thrive post COVID-19.

For universities like RMIT, the opportunities lie in capability building for governments and parenting together to help deliver greater impact. Chief of the Australian Royal Navy, Vice Admiral Mike Noonan AO RAN, adds how important it is to have plans and strategies in place for the future. “Our strategies will need review and refresh”. Mike reaffirms that to be successful, “building and fostering transformation partnerships across industry and academia will be fundamental”.

As Professor Drummond also emphasised for the future of RMIT, Mike adds that “The importance of partnerships cannot be understated”.

Keep reading to see the community inputs and ideas on this important theme.

All of the insights gathered from the Reflections Phase will be incorporated into a Directions Paper, outlining the potential directions that will shape the final strategy and where we are heading as a University. The Directions will be launched in July!

We are not new to the idea that the future will force us to respond and adapt to rapid, extensive and disruptive changes impacting our global communities. Research is fundamental to finding solutions to these complex challenges. Our role in inquiring, generating knowledge and finding ways to translate research into positive impact that enhances lives and societies won’t change, but how we understand ‘impact’ and the ways we achieve it might look and feel different into the future.


Analysis and thought-leadership from around the world, and important questions for us to consider

Worldwide perspectives and ideas • How do we evolve our research and innovation ecosystem in ways that enable RMIT to succeed amidst increasing disruption? • How do we deepen our relationships with partners, to co-create, translate and scale impact in our communities? • How do we define, measure and recognise truly impactful research? • How can we multiply opportunities for skill, development and specialisation in research careers and pathways? • How do we elevate platforms that create opportunities for transdisciplinary collaboration, sharing knowledge and best practise across colleges? • How might we promote and integrate non-Western knowledge systems in our academic endeavours, in both how we conduct and apply our research?

Join the conversation

Share your thoughts, ambitions, and experiences on what this could mean at RMIT