The new partnership will see RMIT University and Essendon Football Club become tertiary education partners, in a trailblazing collaboration founded on much more than sport.
Vice-Chancellor and President Martin Bean CBE said the partnership was underpinned by a shared commitment to the community, innovation and enterprise.
“Being connected to industry is central to preparing our students for life and work and developing graduates who have the skills required for the future workforce,” he said.
“We pride ourselves on giving everyone the chance to be at their best, to shape their future and to belong, regardless of social, economic or cultural backgrounds.”
Essendon Football Club CEO Xavier Campbell said today was an important and equally exciting day for the Essendon Football Club and RMIT.
“This has the potential to be a leading partnership, born out of a shared mindset and an ambition to drive meaningful change in our communities,” he said.
“Our partnership unites two industry leaders, where the free trading of knowledge and experience will up-skill our people, grow our communities, enable us to respond to the challenges, and capitalise on the opportunities which are waiting just around the corner.”
RMIT and Essendon have a shared commitment to reconciliation, securing a future founded on the active relationship that exists between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and a desire to create a shared future for all Australians.
RMIT’s Ngarara Willim Centre and Essendon’s Next Generation Academy will begin working together to grow the next generation of Indigenous leaders by providing opportunities of tertiary learning and up-skilling in real workplaces.
The partnership also opens up new elite athletic development opportunities and pathways to elite sport.
Essendon Football Club staff and players will gain access to online courses, micro-credentials and RMIT Activator – the University’s central initiative designed to promote entrepreneurial success and support students who have new and innovative ideas to launch start-ups.
Head of RMIT Activator Renzo Scacco said enterprise skills were already in strong demand amongst today’s employers but businesses of the future would seek new skills, new professional credentials and new entrepreneurial capabilities.
“One in two 18 to 24-year-old Australians are keen to start their own business, which is a pretty phenomenal statistic when you think about it,” he said.
“So we're giving our community the opportunity to kick-start their new business ideas with great internal support.
“As well as being provided with mentoring and professional support to launch real businesses, players and staff will be given the tools to harness their ideas, make pitches, solve real-world problems with industry partners and road test other new business ideas that might come their way.”
RMIT students will also gain hands-on experience and grow their enterprise skills at Essendon Football Club through work-integrated-learning opportunities, commencing next week.
But true innovation means breaking new ground.
The new partners are already exploring research opportunities that are set to deliver real impact and innovations in a range of areas including textiles, nutrition and e-sports.
Associate Professor and Performance Apparel Research Leader at the School of Fashion and Textiles, Olga Troynikov, has been collaborating with the club’s performance management team to explore a variety of functional materials and sports equipment research opportunities.
“In our collaborative research we consider the body of the athlete, the activity they have to perform and the conditions they have to endure in order to develop materials and material systems that work best with the athlete’s body,” she said.
“Our research and development of intelligent materials, garments and apparel systems has connected us with a number of major sporting brands at both professional and fitness enthusiast levels, so it’s exciting to be partnering with Essendon Football Club to explore even further.”
The developments in this space employ new, potentially game-changing technology that could be beneficial not only for Essendon Football Club but also the wider community.
Martin said: “We wake up every day identifying with an organisation that is making a real difference in the world and I think that’s part of the connection we felt when we started discussing this partnership with Essendon Football Club.
“It’s a shared passion for making a purposeful contribution.
“We’re enabling people to take giant leaps forward - in learning, in the way they do their jobs and in how they contribute to the community and the economy.”
Story: Shelley Brady