RMIT in conjunction with ANZ took part in Melbourne Knowledge Week by hosting the final series of the Global Futures Forum.
The Global Futures Forum was the final part of a three-stepped series in 2015, incorporating design thinking and innovation for industry and student outcomes.
Hosted by ANZ Bank’s GM Strategy and Planning and Chief Technology Officer, Dr Patrick Maes, the forum brought together a prominent industry thought leadership panel from finance, technology, government, creative digital industries, crowd funding.
Professor Ian Palmer, RMIT College of Business Pro Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President, opened the event, setting the scene for the 2015 forum theme “The Innovation Games - industry and students inventing the future”.
Palmer praised the role of industry collaboration in supporting student futures, future jobs and industries yet to be realised and highlighted RMIT’s entrepreneurial ecosystem with programs including:
- New Enterprise Investment Fund (NEIF)
- Business Plan Competition
- Business Enterprise Unit
- Fasttrack Innovation Program
“These programs work alongside industry, creating the environment for students to engage entrepreneurial and intra-preneurial mindset during their education and gain experience to lead and design future industries.” he said.
More than 140 guests joined ABC Breakfast presenter Michael Rowland as he hosted a lively Q&A with the industry panel which included:
- Dr Patrick Maes – GM Strategy and Planning, Global Technology Services and Operations (GTSO), and Chief Technology Officer, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ)
- Scott Barlow – IBM Corporation Client Managing Director.
- David Southwick MP – Victorian Shadow Minister Energy and Resources; Innovation; and Renewables
- Claire Merquita – General Manager, Pozible
- Helen Souness – Managing Director, Etsy Australia and Asia
- Saul Eslake – Australian Economist and Commentator
The panel lead a stimulating conversation with insights about the challenges and opportunities facing the Australian innovation economy, moving to “how to’s” for engaging students in multi-partner collaborations, comments on social and creative venturing, funding sources, removing barriers as part of the approach for sustainable business models and innovative futures.
Panelist Eslake said: “While Australia’s investment in the inputs for the innovation eco-system is significant; the road ahead for outputs to evolve will require a climate of continuing optimism and longer term commitment.”
IBM’s Barlow said: “Scaling up Australia’s innovation system includes a robust feeder system in high schools, with STEM programs to enable a gender balanced workforce; building diversity plays a major role in really sparking ideas and invention.“
Merquita from GM Pozible, a rewards-based crowd funding venture for creative projects, said the system needed to include infrastructure to enable men to participate in bridging the career gap women experience during parenthood, plus more sources of funding and simplification of the regulatory system would be a step in the right direction.
Souness added that business skilling and innovating to reduce the regulatory load for micro creative start-ups would make a real difference, making it attractive for the next generation (students) to start-up, stay and contribute to Australia.
The conversation moved across the economy, what government, industry and education are already doing, can do more of and plans to do in future.
Maes, of ANZ, said: “A positive mindset cannot be underestimated; disruption presents an opportunity, and industry collaboration with education is fundamental for engaging students in the innovation process.
“The hackathon was a good way to bring experts and mentors together to give students a chance for real learning about solving problems for an organization with the scale of 22,000 employees globally.”
The how to’s for Australia’s innovation future?
For students it can be fast, like the 52-hour hackathon weekend that RMIT business and computer science technology students spent with ANZ and IBM at the York Butter Factory in August; or slower, longer run industry projects too, 3 to 6 months during their studies to give new grads and postgrads an innovation experience.
The common theme during the event was about “open collaboration” – bringing thought leadership circles together, joining up industry mentors and students, piloting, prototyping and designing for Australia’s innovation economy.
A final note from Southwick: “Australia is on the cusp of an innovation revolution, it’s market-led and government is here to signal readiness, bring the efficiencies and look to international examples of best practice. Now that innovation is at the forefront, we all have to be thinking of everything we do, everywhere – better ways of doing will support industry, education, students, the community and the economy.”
Story: Fiona Sullivan