RMIT University has established a new partnership with boutique Australian chocolatier, Koko Black.
A Memorandum of Understanding between RMIT and Koko Black was recently formalised, facilitating collaboration in workforce development, research, consultancy activities and work integrated learning for students.
Professor Ron Wakefield, Head of the School of Property, Construction and Project Management, and Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor International, signed the MOU along with Koko Black founder and Managing Director, Shane Hills.
Professor Wakefield said the education and research partnership would help support a bid by Koko Black and Deloitte for the creation of a Centre of Excellence in Melbourne's north.
"Koko Black's future plans represent a serious investment in the renaissance of Melbourne's north as an innovative and dynamic place to work, learn and live," Professor Wakefield said.
"As a leading educational provider in the northern suburbs through our Bundoora campus, RMIT is ideally positioned to provide training, workforce development and other support to make the Centre of Excellence vision a reality."
Shane Hills, founder and Managing Director of Koko Black, with RMIT's Professor Ron Wakefield.
Koko Black, in conjunction with Deloitte, has submitted a funding proposal to Melbourne's North Innovation and Investment Fund for the Centre of Excellence.
The facility would house a production facility, a research and development food lab, design studio, a visitor's centre for tourists, a salon and gift shop, a warehouse and distribution centre and a new head office for Australia and a base for Asia Pacific exports.
The proposed centre would directly generate 102 new jobs, as well as flow-on benefits for the region, creating transition opportunities for displaced workers from the traditional manufacturing sector.
The first Koko Black salon opened in December 2003 and has since grown to eight salons across Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia.
The company, which has a workforce of more than 230 staff, also delivers their gourmet chocolates nationally via the Online Salon.