Strong spirit of collaboration at EFI 2020

Strong spirit of collaboration at EFI 2020

RMIT's Engaging for Impact event brought together top academics, innovators and industry partners to showcase the best in research and innovative thinking.

The challenges we face feel greater than ever before, and that is why none of us can solve them alone.

On the themes of future energy, waste and materials, integrated health care, living in cities, and digital inclusion, the spirit of collaboration ran strong at this year’s Engaging for Impact 2020 event, hosted by RMIT.

Many of the 86 researchers, innovators and industry partners presenting to more than 1000 guests at the three-day event spoke of how they were joining forces across sectors and disciplines to find solutions to some of the world’s most intractable and complex problems.

Audience member looks at EFI app

Now in its fourth year, Engaging for Impact is RMIT’s flagship research and innovation event, showcasing the university’s leading academics, strong industry connections and life-changing student experiences, as well as providing an opportunity to network and have meaningful discussions about how to make a difference.

In his opening remarks, Vice-Chancellor and President Martin Bean CBE told the audience at Storey Hall that EFI went to the heart of what RMIT is all about, as a practical community of learning and discovery.

Martin Bean presenting at EFI Opening Keynote Martin Bean presenting at EFI Opening Keynote

He remarked that when academia, industry and government collaborate it supercharges the kind of innovation and creativity that can change the world.

In a time of unprecedented disruption, he said, RMIT has a role to play, together with its partners, to steer change the right way.

Many fitting examples of the Vice-Chancellor’s words were on display across the array of presentations, panel discussions and workshops .

The Welcome to Country was done by Wurundjeri Elder Ron Jones The Welcome to Country was done by Wurundjeri Elder Ron Jones

The launch of a new online tool, the Australian Urban Observatory developed by RMIT’s Centre for Urban Research with industry and government partners, showed how cross-sectorial collaboration can produce resources that meet the needs of our rapidly changing world.

A session on co-ideation with Indigenous knowledge holders showcased a selection of powerful partnerships with Australia’s first nations communities and RMIT researchers and students from the schools of Architecture, Education and Fashion and Textiles.

The exciting results include the introduction of an Indigenous dye garden at RMIT’s Brunswick campus, and an on-country learning experience on Gunditjmara country in southwest Victoria for Architecture students.

Vicki Couzen’s Possum Skin cloak project, reconnecting communities and culture, was also celebrated.

BUPA Mental Health and Wellbeing Innovator Jane Burns BUPA Mental Health and Wellbeing Innovator Jane Burns presenting at EFI Opening Keynote

The keynote events each morning invited industry and government leaders to share the stage with the best of RMIT experts to unpack the topics of Global Megatrends and Digital Disruptions, Connected Communities: People and Places and Healthcare 4.0.

It’s not often that the wisdom of Dolly Parton is cited it in serious conversations about the future of the planet.

But along with generously sharing their expertise and insights on these topics, one keynote speaker also imparted the American country music legend’s salient advice when asked how to best support the next generation of researchers and change-makers to take on the big challenges and opportunities facing society today.

"Find out who you are, and do it on purpose."

Certainly, the passion and knowledge on display from the attendees and presenters at EFI 2020 suggests they have done just that.


Story: Claire Slattery


  • Sustainability
  • Science and technology
  • Society
  • Future World of Work
  • Urban Design
  • Research
  • Industry
  • Property & Construction
  • Environment
  • Indigenous Australia

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Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business. - Artwork created by Louisa Bloomer