Driving global innovation: unleashing the power of innovation hubs

Driving global innovation: unleashing the power of innovation hubs

Since opening in 2013, RMIT Europe has become an exemplar of the innovation hub model – driving innovation, facilitating the transfer of knowledge and technology between academia and industry, and fostering international collaboration.

Innovation hubs play a crucial role in the development and success of innovation districts, both of which thrive on the exchange of ideas, knowledge and expertise. 

Besides facilitating the generation and implementation of new ideas and technologies, they contribute to a broad range of innovation beyond just technology, including social innovation, business model innovation and creative solutions to societal challenges.

By fostering international collaboration, these ecosystems can tap into the power of collective intelligence, unlocking new realms of innovation and driving transformative change on a global scale thereby contributing to global problem-solving and having a societal impact.

Furthermore, they can facilitate the pooling of resources, expertise and perspectives to develop innovative solutions with far-reaching impact, transcending borders and benefiting societies worldwide to tackle complex issues such as climate change, healthcare, poverty and urbanisation.

RMIT’s decision to open its European hub in Barcelona stemmed from the University’s internationalisation ambitions and its existing connections to the city, including the work of RMIT researchers from the Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory in the ongoing design and construction of Gaudi’s monumental Sagrada Familia.

The same year, RMIT became the first Australian institution to receive funding from the European Union as part of a consortium receiving over 3.8 million euros to support a new architecture, design and art practice training research network, helping to extend the School of Architecture and Urban Design’s practice-based PhD program in Europe.

Since its move to Barcelona's 22@ district in September 2017, RMIT Europe has doubled in size and attracted more than 15 million euros of research income.

It has also established deep links with stakeholders in the district to develop projects that drive inclusive growth and connect Melbourne, Vietnam and Barcelona in topics related to sustainable urban development, digital transformation, and creativity and design.

This location in the heart of the 22@ district has allowed RMIT to experience first-hand the impact on growth and development made possible through immersion in an innovation district. 

As one of the three founding partners of the Melbourne Innovation Districts (MIDs), RMIT has worked to apply the lessons and connections back into Melbourne – with RMIT Europe playing a crucial role in fostering insightful discussions, workshops and exploratory dialogues between the two ecosystems.

During these exchanges, several prominent characteristics of the 22@ district, such as its urban revitalisation efforts, economic strategy and emphasis on smart governance and leadership, have significantly influenced and served as a source of inspiration for the development of the Melbourne Innovation Districts.

Since moving to Barcelona's 22@ district, RMIT Europe has doubled in size and attracted more than 15 million euros of research income.

– Marta Fernández

Innovation districts such as 22@ play a key role in driving the socioecological transition of society and the economy, with the latter consistently emphasised as the primary driver of innovation district success.

However, we are increasingly also seeing the importance of social and environmental factors, as exemplified by the RECETAS project, of which RMIT Europe is a partner.

Led by ISGlobal, RECETAS is a European Union funded project which was born in the 22@ district and capitalises on the local network to drive international cooperation and impact.

The five-year project is looking into how nature in cities can promote social interaction to address issues of loneliness and improve the health and mental wellbeing of citizens, running demonstration projects both in Barcelona and Melbourne.

RECETAS exemplifies the ‘quintuple helix’ innovation model, which considers not only the presence of key stakeholders but also places the natural environment and the economy as drivers of knowledge production and innovation.

Following on from the success of its European hub over the past ten years, RMIT is establishing strategic innovation hubs in other locations including Vietnam and Singapore.

In 2023 RMIT Europe is celebrating the significant milestone of its 10-year anniversary of operations in Barcelona. To learn about RMIT's history in Europe and keep up with the latest news and events, visit the #RMITEurope10 webpage and follow RMIT Europe on TwitterLinkedIn and Instagram

RECETAS has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement Number 945095.

05 July 2023


aboriginal flag
torres strait flag

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 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.