10 years of impact in Europe

10 years of impact in Europe

Opening its doors in 2013 in the city famous for the Sagrada Familia, RMIT’s innovation hub in Europe has reached the significant milestone of its 10-year anniversary.

The decision to open a hub in the Catalan capital stemmed from existing connections to the city, including the work of RMIT researchers from the University’s Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory in the ongoing design and construction of Gaudi’s monumental basilica. 

The year it opened its European base, RMIT became the first Australian institution to receive funding from the European Union's (EU) prestigious research and innovation funding program Horizon Europe, awarded over AU$6 million to support a new architecture, design and art practice training research network. 

Executive Director of RMIT Europe, Professor Marta Fernandez, reflected on the immense growth over the past 10 years.  

"From our modest core of five staff in 2013, we now employ an international team of around 40 at our base in the city's innovation district, including PhD and postdoctoral candidates co-hosted through EU funded schemes," she said.  

"Due to our presence in Barcelona and our relationships across Europe, we've been able to facilitate scientific, cultural, industry and knowledge exchange on a global scale.  

"We’re proud to manage a portfolio of European funded projects of AU$48 million, have delivered on hundreds of collaborations with universities, industry, cities and NGOs and to have supported 15,000+ RMIT students with transformational global experiences connected to Europe," Fernandez said.  

RMIT Europe’s contribution to building international collaboration in research, industry and education over the past 10 years, and in particular its role in strengthening Spanish-Australian ties, was recognised by the Spanish Embassy to Australia and Spanish Researchers in Australia-Pacific Association with the award of the Malaspina Award 2022.  

RMIT students on a tour of the Sant Antoni superblock with Salvador Rueda, Director of the Urban Ecology Agency of Barcelona RMIT students on an urban futures study tour in Barcelona explore the Sant Antoni superblock with Salvador Rueda, Founding Director of Barcelona's Urban Ecology Agency

The Australian Ambassador to Spain, Her Excellency Ms Sophia McIntyre, said RMIT’s presence in Spain is a tremendous asset for the bilateral relationship.  

"It has raised the standing of R&D and innovation links as an important plank of the relationship in the context of growing economic ties, and helped to raise the profile of Australian research capabilities in Spain," she said. 

RMIT's innovation hub in Europe is also a differentiator in the Australian higher education sector.  

Saskia Loer Hansen, RMIT’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor International and Engagement and Vice-President, was at the opening of RMIT Europe in Barcelona in 2013 and has recently returned to the University after several years in leadership roles in the UK.  

Having seen RMIT’s journey in Europe from the very start, Hansen reflected on the local impact and shared benefit with the community.  

"RMIT Europe has become an innovative, widely respected player in Barcelona’s innovation district, forging new partnerships and approaches to sustainable cities and transformative technologies," she said.  

"What RMIT can bring to and share with the communities we serve is one of the three strategic directions articulated in our strategy – Knowledge with Action: RMIT’s Strategy to 2031.  

"We see it as a critical responsibility to serve the community by using civic partnership to advance social innovation, and smart and sustainable cities,” Hansen said. 

"We can contribute by using our relationships and urban presence in locations including Melbourne, Ho Chi Minh City and Barcelona to increase the scale and benefit of these efforts." 

RMIT Europe will be celebrating its 10-year anniversary throughout the year with partners, alumni, staff and friends of RMIT.  

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 Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram


Story: Karen Matthews


  • Sustainability
  • Science and technology
  • Design
  • Urban Design
  • Research
  • RMIT Europe
  • Business
  • Industry
  • Architecture
  • Environment

Related News

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.