Industry meets academia, face to face

Industry meets academia, face to face

The successful trial of a new industry engagement event shows the value of personal relationships for industry collaboration.

The Planning for the Future workshop held at RMIT in August was co-created with the Australian Defence Alliance (ADA) to build connections between researchers and small and medium-sized enterprises in defence technology industries.

RMIT Senior Manager for Research Partnerships, Quin Chang, said while academics and small business owners often seemed worlds apart, they shared common interests in Australia remaining a hotbed of innovation and economic prosperity. 

“This workshop was an opportunity for academics and small business owners to start bringing these two worlds together by better understanding each other’s priorities, and having open and honest discussion about challenges on both sides,” he said.

“What makes this event unique is the focus on building relationships and starting conversations rather than jumping straight into coming up with solutions to problems.” 

The Planning for the Future workshop was a chance to have frank discussions about challenges and opportunities.

The one-day event included a morning of presentations from small business owners and researchers, guided tours of RMIT's Advanced Manufacturing Precinct and MicroNano Research Facility, then an afternoon of workshops focused on identifying useful insights and opportunities for each participant.

ADA CEO Claire Willette said the companies and researchers were paired off for the workshops based on business needs and expertise around the areas of advanced manufacturing, Industry 4.0 and Internet of Things. 

“Our intent is to facilitate technically-relevant discussions, under the security of confidentiality, enabling both sides to gain early insights into challenges that have technical solutions; as well as to bridge gaps in understanding, access and communication that we frequently see occur between SMEs and researchers,” Willette said. 

“We’re grateful to RMIT’s support of this successful pilot and look forward to the next one!”

The group hears from ADA CEO Claire Willette, whose organisation represents around 1,000 small and medium-sized enterprises in defence and related industries.

Chang said feedback from all involved was overwhelmingly positive, showing the value of targeted and personalised industry events.

All 10 industry participants said they were now more aware of how RMIT could support their business and would attend a similar session in future.

“Now that these conversations between relevant people have started, we hope it will break down barriers and build long lasting collaborative relationships,” he said.

See examples of RMIT's industry-led advanced manufacturing research here.


Story: Michael Quin

30 August 2019


30 August 2019


  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Defence
  • Research
  • Aerospace & Aviation
  • Nano & Microtechnology
  • Advanced Materials
  • Industry

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