Industry-research engagement program runs pilot meeting

Hosting an inter-personal networking event at RMIT, senior manager for research partnerships, Quin Chang, highlighted how frank conversations could occur in the informal setting.

“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,” said Chang.

The workshop, called Planning for the Future, was also hosted by the Australian Defence Alliance (ADA), and invited researchers as well as SMEs in defence technology industries to share insights into the issues facing each sector.

“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,” said Chang.

Events on the day included presentations by researchers and small business owners, tours of RMIT facilities and then workshops where participants could come together and understand each other’s’ perspectives. These sessions focussed on advanced manufacturing, Industry 4.0, and Internet of Things (IoT). With the sensitive defence application of these technologies, ADA CEO, Claire Willette, highlighted how being in person led to great collaboration.

“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,” said Willette.

The event was attended by 10 industry participants and opened pathways for collaboration between these representatives and the researchers who were also in attendance.

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

The day is the first of a series of workshops, and the outcomes of the first event will inform how future events will run.