The Institute for the Future of Business (IFB), University of Melbourne, and leading insurance company AIA marked the beginning of a new era in partnerships and collaborations at the launch event for IFB on May 16.
Through partnerships with industry collaborators, IFB aims to revolutionise the way industry and universities collaborate by embedding industry knowledge into university curriculum, and linking research directly to how industry solves complex problems, such as inequality and access to healthcare.
Executive Director of IFB, Professor Phillip Dolan, said the event put into perspective the IFB’s ambitious plan to transform the way industry and universities work together.
“It was exciting to launch the Institute and our first industry partnership with AIA Australia, and to be joined by a representative from NAB, who is one of the Melbourne Business School’s (MBS) industry collaborators. We are eager to get started working with AIA and other corporate partners in addressing industry challenges and preparing Australian businesses for the future,” he said.
“At the University, we are already strong across a wide range of disciplines and when we combine that with what a large company like AIA has to offer, with leading industry knowledge and a pool of highly informed and skilled professionals, we are able to look at problems in a new way,” said Professor Dolan.
What is the value proposition for academic and industry collaboration?
The host for the night, Professor Ian Harper, Dean, MBS, welcomed guests and said it was a great privilege to officially launch IFB and he was very pleased to see it become a reality.
The Welcome to Country was given by Wurundjeri woman Ms Stacie Piper, a University of Melbourne student who would soon be continuing her education at Oxford, who spoke about why she feels it’s important for her to speak her native language at events such as this one. She said the IFB looked like an exciting initiative, and it would be a good idea to have more Indigenous businesses engaging with academia.
Professor Mark Hargreaves, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research, Partnerships and Infrastructure), University of Melbourne, spoke about the importance of cross-disciplinary problem solving. He said academics have conducted research that will be important to solving problems in the future.
“But there are some more immediate problems, and the conversations that are curated between industry partners and the academy, are important in catalysing those research breakthroughs,” said Professor Hargreaves.
The event moved to the panel discussion on the subject: What is the value proposition for academic and industry collaboration?
The speakers were:
- Mr David Gall, Group Executive Corporate and Institutional Banking, NAB
- Professor Caron Beaton-Wells Dean Internal, MBS
- Mr Damien Mu, CEO and Managing Director, AIA Australia
- Professor Phillip Dolan, Director, Institute for the Future of Business (Moderator)
The panel discussed the most pressing issues that the IFB and collaborators can work to address.
Mr Gall said one of the most pressing issues for NAB and the banking sector is the climate transition.
“We’ve already had an opportunity to partner with MBS around helping to lift the capability of the bankers that we’ve got on our team to have better quality conversations with our clients. I have to say, even for a short program, co-designing something with a bit of rigour to it has made an enormous difference and had very quick impact with those quality of conversations with our clients,” said Mr Gall.
Mr Mu said he hoped IFB could look at Australia’s economic demands around health and wellbeing.
“Unfortunately, the trends are going the wrong way. If we’re ultimately going to reverse the trend, if we’re ultimately going to try deal with that economic supply and demand issue, we’ve got to get into prevention and start to get people engaged in taking ownership of their health and wellbeing. That’s going to require a significant amount of research and collaboration,” said Mr Mu.
Mr Mu said with small changes around lifestyle changes, it would be possible to make Australia the healthiest nation in the world.
How can IFB and academics help address these and other challenges? Professor Beaton-Wells said IFB would provide a clear front door for industry.
“The structures and gateways are not familiar to the corporate sector, and difficult to penetrate and engage with. There needs to be a vehicle, a conscious intent, and mechanism for bringing business in. And institutions can provide an obvious, clear front door for businesses to enter into and find their way around the labyrinth that can constitute the university,” said Professor Beaton-Wells.
The panel discussion was closed by Enterprise Professor Rosemary Addis, University of Melbourne, who spoke about how collaboration can help address complex problems, such as climate change.
“All of the most interesting problems, all of the most important problems are essentially interdisciplinary. They're not linear geometry. They require the theory and they require the practice. My own experience has been that when we bring together people who, with different backgrounds, who think differently, we can achieve extraordinary things. Things that we perhaps can’t achieve on our own.” said Professor Addis.
More industry connections
Professor Dolan said more representatives of industry will be joining IFB as partners in the near future.
“With AIA and our future partners, the flow of information will be in both directions. For us, industry will inform curriculum, teaching and research. They will be telling us the current and future issues they need to address. In turn, partners will have unprecedented access to our leading researchers and their findings,” said Professor Dolan.
The launch of IFB took place at Melbourne Connect in Carlton.