30 July 2010
Facilitating social entrepreneurship
Associate Professor David Gilbert, Pat Thurgood and Dr Afreen Huq.
A joint initiative between the State Library of Victoria and RMIT will enable a section of the library to operate as a hub for social entrepreneurship.
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RMIT University is working with the State Library of Victoria (SLV) on an innovative industry development project.
The project is a joint initiative which aims to establish an “I-Co hub” to facilitate socially driven programs in Melbourne and regional areas of Victoria.
The hub will bring RMIT students, industry partners and staff from the SLV together to develop programs that focus on the socialisation of international students; facilitating entrepreneurship among young leaders in regional Victoria; and engaging local secondary school students in innovative activities.
Associate Professor David Gilbert, Deputy Head (Industry Engagement) in the College of Business, praised the “I-Co hub” project.
"The benefits of this project are far-reaching. It will offer disenfranchised sections of our community the opportunity to work with industry mentors, RMIT academic staff, and RMIT students in building social capital and facilitating new business creation."
The collaboration began in 2009 when Pat Thurgood, Senior Policy Officer, SLV, approached Associate Professor Gilbert to see if students from RMIT’s Entrepreneurship program could develop a concept to enable a section of the SLV to be more effectively used in engaging with the community. This would form part of the Library’s “I-Connect strategy”.
Bachelor of Business (Entrepreneurship) students from the School of Management were challenged to provide innovative solutions to the request.
The students, under the guidance of Associate Professor Gilbert and Dr Afreen Huq, Program Director, Bachelor of Business (Entrepreneurship), undertook extensive research before producing a report which looked at ways to use incubation, social enterprise and community development to affect social change.
A proposal was pitched to the Executive Directors of the SLV and then to the Library Board of Victoria chaired by former Premier, John Cain. It received overwhelming endorsement.
The SLV has since developed a funding proposal seeking $3 million to fit out and operate the space. This involves both formal and informal spaces, wireless broadband, development and implementation of a social media strategy as well as security and a dedicated entrance via Russell Street.
A major part of this initiative also involves an ARC Linkage grant application led by Associate Professor Gilbert. This will involve PhD scholars in a longitudinal, ethnographically-focused research program that will investigate the impact the “I-Co hub” collaboration has on participants at local, regional and international levels.
The SLV will host a forum at the Village Roadshow Cinema from 9am on 7 September to raise awareness of the proposal.
Premier John Brumby has been invited to open the event and a number of RMIT senior staff will also attend.