ECP Post-COVID-19 Restart Initiatives

Along with harnessing existing research networks and projects to respond to COVID-19, RMIT’s Enabling Capability Platforms (ECPs) launched five cross-platform initiatives in June 2020 to address various key areas for post COVID-19 recovery. 


A Greener Start

Enabling environmentally sustainable futures​

A Healthier Start

Enabling resilient health systems and populations responsive to major health challenges

A Digital Start

Enabling social inno­vation and inclusion for digital futures​

A Better Work Start

Enabling effective, resilient, ethical and responsible businesses for future workforces

A Fairer Start

Enabling a more inclusive and equitable future Australia​

In keeping with our Enabling Capability Platform remit, they are committed to curating unique value and impact through interdisciplinary collaboration.   ​

Focus Areas, Papers and Contacts

Focus areas​

  1. Mental Health - Mental health recovery and nuanced support to diverse vulnerable groups​
  2. Digital Health - Digital therapies & diagnostics; connecting medical, allied health and community​
  3. Promoting Health - Lifestyle interventions, vaccines, diagnostics & monitoring devices​
  4. Restoring Health - Agile systems and new ways to deliver and deploy therapies​

Focus areas​

  1. Supply Chains – led by Associate Professor Vinh Thai and Professor Arnan Mitchell​
  2. Managing Uncertainty – led by Dr. Justyna Dabrowska and Dr. Iryna Heiets​
  3. Digitalisation (safety concerns and return to work) - led by Dr. Ben Cheng, Dr. Konrad Peszynski​ and, Dr Naomi Whiteside
  4. Creating Shared Values – led by Associate Professor Joona Keranen and Dr. Natalya Turkina


Past event reflections

The RMIT Enabling Capability Platforms (ECPs) kicked off their ECP Post COVID-19 Restart Strategy on 28 May 2020 with an online "Conversations on the Future of Transport and Logistics". The event was organised in conjunction with the RMIT Global Transport and Logistics Research Group and was led by Assoc. Prof. Victor Gekara with the support of Prof. Anne-Laure Mention, Global Business Innovation ECP Director. The event was the first of a series of events bringing industry and academia together to consider post COVID-19 recovery efforts and strategies.

A line up of external speakers were on hand to share how COVID-19 has impacted businesses within the transport and logistics sector, new technologies likely to change in the future post COVID-19 and what strategies businesses can adopt to build more operational resilience in the face of similar disruptions.

The panellists were:

  • Mr Jonathan Bolton - General Manager consumer and retail, DHL – Victoria
  • Mr Dave Coughlin - Branch manager, Mainfreight – Tullamarine
  • Mr Nicholas O'Connell - Operations Production Manager, DP-World – Melbourne

Speakers also discussed ways for RMIT researchers to collaborate with industry and government in post COVID-19 recovery efforts.

 Find out more about the event.

If you would like to view a recording of this event, please contact the Global Business Innovation ECP Operations Officer at

On 10 June 2020 the ECPs held their first roundatble as part of the newly launched ECP Post COVID-19 Restart Strategy.

Event summary

The impacts of COVID-19 are being felt across our society, in our medical system, businesses, social organisations, our economy, as well as the mental health and wellbeing of individuals. In this context RMIT with its partners will assemble cross disciplinary teams to analyse the critical issues in order both to influence the societal debate and to develop focused research-based interventions. These activities will look at five focal areas. For each “Start”, roundtables with industrial partners will initiate cross-disciplinary analysis of the critical issues involved. This will lead to a Briefing and a White paper to contribute to the societal debate and to define critical areas in RMIT and its partners to contribute.

To support our cross disciplinary analysis and planning in each start it is critical that our communities have an accurate, uniform and nuanced understanding of the range of scenarios that may unfold as our society begins to re-open after the COVID-19 closure. This roundtable provided that through presentations from leading players and experts in the field, which were followed by a moderated conversation.

The panellists and topics of discussion were:

  • Prof Katie Flanagan - Head of Infectious Diseases Service, Launceston General Hospital. She talked about Health Scenarios. What are the different projections for the spread of virus and what do these require as a health response.
  • Ms Emma King – Chief Executive Officer, Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS). She discussed Social scenarios. What are the projected virus scenarios likely to this mean for the disadvantaged and the institutions that support them and for our society as a whole.
  • Ms Jane Cohen – Partner, Global Strategy Group, KPMG. She discussed Business scenarios. The impact of COVID-19 and impact to retail ranging from job changes, restructure of the sector and changes in use of shopping centres.
  • Dr Amanda Caples – Victoria’s Lead Scientist, Victoria State Government. She discussed how the Medical scenarios may affect the government response and what her office view as the critical areas in Victorian business and society.

If you would like to view a recording of this event, please contact the AM & AMF ECP Operations Officer at  or the Global Business Innovation ECP Operations Officer at

On 11 June 2020 Prof. Anne-Laure Mention and the Global Business Innovation ECP supported the first event within the Fairer Start Initiative within the ECP Post COVID-19 Restart Strategy. The event was moderated by the Deputy Dean R&I at the school of Accounting, Info Systems & Supply Chain, Prof. Nava Subramaniam.

Event summary

COVID-19 pandemic has put Australian charities and not-for-profit (NFP) entities at severe risk. Donor fatigue, government funding cuts, volunteer shortages due to social distancing policies, and more have led to breakages in human service supply chains, undermining organisational sustainability and service delivery to millions of people who depend on them.

This webinar addressed the emergent challenges for the governance and accountability of NFPs in a pandemic crisis, and discuss how NFP organisational resilience can be supported, including:

  • leveraging data assets for business model and public policy innovations,
  • building technology-enhanced service supply chains,
  • accountability to service quality, and
  • role of social enterprises for bridging the gap between affordability and service demand.

The panellists were:

  • David Gilchrist - University of Western Australia
  • Vinita Godinho - Financial Resilience Australia
  • Mel Yates Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC)

If you would like to view a recording of this event, please contact the Global Business Innovation ECP Operations Officer at

On 2nd July we had another event within the RMIT ECP Post Covid-19 Restart initiative. It was organised in conjunction with the Australian Maritime Logistics Research Network (AMLRN) and led by Assoc. Prof. Vinh Thai.

Event summary

Over the past few months, we have witnessed the widespread effects of COVID-19 pandemic on virtually every sector of the global economy. As more than 90% of the world trade in terms of volume are moved by sea, the global maritime supply chain is considered critical. Like other economic sectors, various segments of the maritime industry have also been severely impacted by COVID-19. The pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of maritime networks, port efficiency, and hinterland connectivity. As the global maritime supply chains are closely related and contribute significantly to the growth of international trade, any disruption to the later may likely trigger prospective structural changes in the former, and vice versa. Australia relies heavily on the vibrancy of the maritime industry i.e. shipping, port, and supporting maritime supply chain sectors. Maritime supply chains are therefore critical to Australian economy.

In this webinar, a panel of practitioners and academics shared their view and reflection on the aforesaid issues and discussed how should the industry be prepared to enhance maritime supply chain’s effectiveness and boost Australia’s trade.

The speakers were:

  • Dave Coughlin - Mainfreight – Tullamarine
  • Zoran Kostadinoski - International Forwarders and Customs Brokers Association of Australia (IFCBAA)
  • Davide Ricci - Australian National Line
  • Representative from Port of Melbourne
  • Assoc. Prof. Vinh Thai, RMIT University

Moderator - Prof. Shams Rahman, RMIT University

Find out more about the event.

If you would like to view a recording of this event, please contact the Global Business Innovation ECP Operations Officer at

On 30th July 2020, we held the third roundtable within the A Better Work Start initiative. It was led by Prof. Anne-Laure Mention and Prof. Ivan Cole and was another extremely successful event. We had a diverse audience from academia, industry and government and 4 distinguished speakers who presented highly engaging and interesting presentations, and contributed to a very fruitful panel discussion and a Q&A session with the audience. 

We have already received a large number of excellent comments and reviews from the event, in particular on the multiple perspectives and insights provided by our speakers, which have created opportunities for further conversations and collaborations within the RMIT Community and our partners. 

Event summary

In the early stages of the Covid-19 Pandemic, as we become increasingly isolated from the rest of the world, we could not quickly obtain the PPE and medical equipment necessary for our hospitals and to protect our community. Further, many consumer items were in short supply. This has led to a debate on whether we need to establish complete and autonomous supply chains in Australia for critical items. In short, should we re-establish a sovereign capability in manufacturing?

However, Australia globalised its economy between 1983 to the present to capture the efficiencies in globalisation and to focus on area and parts of the supply chain where Australia is most effective. How can we balance these two perspectives?

Additionally, if we are to re-establish a sovereign capability, what areas should we focus on, what are the critical issues and holes in our supply chain that must be addressed? How can advanced technology and the university sector contribute to these critical issues?

The speakers were:

  • Ms Pamela Kellert - Head of Strategy, Partnering and Communications, Major Projects - Downer
  • Mr Neil Wilson - Chairman, Romar Engineering
  • Dr Erol Harvey - Head Strategy and Translation, Bionics Institute

Find out more about this event.

If you would like to view a recording of this event, please contact the Global Business Innovation ECP Operations Officer at

On 15 October 2020 a roundtable of researchers and experts explored how Australian ethical and social enterprises strategically respond to COVID-19.

The event was held as part of RMIT's Enabling Capability Platform's 'A Better Work Start' initiative within the ECP Post COVID-19 ReStart program, enabling effective, resilient, ethical and responsible business for future workforces.

The roundtable was led by Dr Natalya Turkina from Graduate School of Business and Law and was supported by a team of academics including Assoc. Prof. Joona Keranen, Dr. Alena Golyagina and Apurva Sharma. They hosted an experienced panel of industry speakers who shared their insights. Together the presenters shared the key opportunities and challenges brought in by COVID-19, how their enterprises responded to these challenges and how their enterprises remain accountable to their stakeholders.

It was an extremely successful event and we had approx. 70 attendants from academia, industry and government. The speakers presented highly engaging and interesting presentations, and contributed to a very fruitful panel discussion and a Q&A session with the audience. The conversation brought up some very important and insightful topics for discussion and created opportunities for further collaboration activities.

You can read an event summary in the provided file here.

Find out more about this event.

If you would like to view a recording of this event, please contact the Global Business Innovation ECP Operations Officer at

On Monday, 26 October 2020, we ran another very successful event within the A Better Work Start initiative. It was led by the Digitalisation Stream and its leaders Dr. Ben Cheng, Dr. Naomi Whiteside and Dr. Konrad Peszynski.

The session attracted over 60 participants from academia, industry and government, and a vibrant discussion ensued with the panel, exploring several key technologies and the opportunities and challenges they pose for businesses. The role people in the success of digital transformation was a key emerging theme, as was the workforce skill development necessary to provide technology support for businesses as they move toward a post COVID future.

The panel included:

  • Dr Ben Cheng - Senior Lecturer, RMIT Manufacturing, Materials and Mechatronics
  • Dr Steve Dowey - Sutton Tools and RMIT Senior Industry Fellow
  • Dr Amirali Khodadadian Gostar - Lecturer, RMIT Manufacturing, Materials and Mechatronics
  • Allan Thompson and Paul O'Shaughnessy - LEAP Australia

We shared the findings from our pre COVID-19 research into the benefits and challenges of industry 4.0 technology adoption in the manufacturing sector. The workshop also featured presentations from academic and industry colleagues around how technology is helping businesses to meet the challenge of COVID-19 and plan their post COVID future.

The Digitalisation stream is now developing opportunities for collaboration and research in partnership with industry that will examine the themes uncovered from the session in greater depth.

If you are interested in getting involved, please get in touch with any of the stream leaders listed above.

Find out more about this event.

If you would like to view a recording of this event, please contact the Global Business Innovation ECP Operations Officer at

On Tuesday 30th March the Enabling Capability Platforms held a Post COVID-19 ReStart Workshop, focusing on critical issues exposed by and arising from the pandemic. We had over 150 attendees on the day, and over 80 participants in the interactive strategic discussions. There were presentations from RMIT’s five Post COVID-19 ReStart Initiatives

  • A Greener Start: Enabling environmentally sustainable futures​; 
  • A Healthier Start: Enabling resilient health systems and populations responsive to major health challenges; 
  • A Digital Start: Enabling social innovation and inclusion for digital futures​; 
  • A Better Work Start: Enabling effective, resilient, ethical and responsible businesses for future workforces; 
  • A Fairer Start: Enabling a more inclusive and equitable future Australia​.    

Four critical questions were posed to the breakout rooms.

  1. What are the main issues facing our society as it restarts? 
  2. Moving Forward – how can RMIT contribute to these issues? 
  3. Moving forward who should our priority partners be and why? 
  4. What are the barriers to your participation in the ReStart initiatives?  

A full summary of the feedback from the five-breakout rooms can be found in the event summary.

If you would like to view a recording of this event, please contact


The COVID-19 crisis has significantly hit Australia, bringing in the first economic recession since the 1990s and a 20-year high unemployment rate of 7.5 percent. To recover from this crisis, the Australian Government has prioritised and contractually committed to social procurement in the construction and infrastructure industry as a promising strategy for creating meaningful long-term employment. Social procurement is a framework for firms to use their buying power to generate social value (i.e., economic, cultural, and social impacts) for local communities above and beyond the economic value of goods and services purchased via direct procurement from social enterprises or by including social impact or employment assessment in the tender requirements. However, anecdotal evidence indicates that construction and infrastructure firms in Australia tend to take a short-term ‘box-ticking’ approach to social procurement, and merely comply to minimum contractual requirements instead of creating meaningful long-term business and employment opportunities in the local communities.

To discuss this, on the 29th of April 2021, RMIT hosted a Roundtable with the representatives of the Shared Value Partnership - Deepen Somaiya (Sustainable Procurement Manager, Transurban), Sue Boyce (CEO, Ability Works Australia), Rebecca Green (Engagement Manager, Social Traders) and James Natsis (CEO, Apricot Consulting) - which has been awarded the Social Traders Social Procurement Partnership of the Year Award for 2020. Such partnerships in social procurement can equip Australian construction and infrastructure firms to play a significant role in addressing important social issues currently faced by the Australian society. To be successful, such partnerships, though, require getting corporate and social enterprises’ intentions established up front, as well as passionate leaders in all sectors. These factors, alongside addressing some challenges and opportunities, will allow firms to go beyond ticking the box and establish long-term, sustainable, and meaningful partnerships in social procurement. 

More details can be found in the briefing note prepared by Dr Natalya Turkina. This event is part of the ongoing industry engagement between Dr Natalya Turkina, Dr Kevin Argus and Associate Professor Joona Keranen and the participants of this Roundtable. A Linkage Grant Application entitled ‘Beyond box-ticking: creating shared value in the Australian social procurement’ is currently being developed by these researchers to be submitted later in 2021. Another Roundtable will continue this discussion in the end of 2021.

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How can you get involved?

  • Read more about our ECP post-COVID19 Initiatives (PDF, 453kb)

  • If you are external to RMIT and would like to be involved in our Post Covid-19 Restart Initiatives, please email

  • If you are an RMIT staff member and would like to participate, please fill out the following form (RMIT staff only)
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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