RMIT: Transforming tomorrow together: the future is bright for digital innovators

Speaking at the Transforming Tomorrow event, the Hon Jaala Pulford, Minster for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy said she was excited by the bright future and rapid advancement of technology.

Pulford said she was delighted to be working with organisations like RMIT right across the Victorian Economy to harness this potential, and to help businesses and individuals take up the opportunities that exist.

“We are an innovation powerhouse, responsive, inclusive and thinking ahead, and we’re backing our experts in academia, industry and in our entrepreneurial community to create new opportunities for the state”, she said.

Deputy Vice Chancellor, STEM College and Vice-President Digital Innovation, Prof Aleks Subic outlined the importance of higher education and the government working together to realise new ideas and solutions leading to economic growth including the recent Victorian government announcement and $44.6 million investment in RMIT’s precinct strategy.

“With our ambition and innovation, as a global multi-sector university of technology we are committed to helping industries and society make the transition to a digital economy by developing digital skills and solutions.

“Collaboration across the university and with our valued partners is critical for our collective success,” Subic said.

As part of the event, a panel of four experts from the digital sector discussed how RMIT and its industry partners could keep up with, and innovate in, the ever-changing digital landscape.

Country Director Worldwide Public Sector ANZ, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Iain Rouse was enthusiastic about the potential for Australia’s first dedicated university cloud supercomputing facility on AWS launched by RMIT and many others, to open up democratised access to high speed and cost-efficient supercomputing resources.

Rouse said the project began with a question – what would it take for any student in any point in their career to academically integrate supercomputing to solve problems at scale?

“This could be genomic sequencing of species, to removing facial tumours from Tasmanian devils… to solving really complex problems in a faster way through accelerating machine learning models or adopting artificial intelligence.”

“What started with conversations many years ago, has led to really close quarters innovation and I just see a magnificent fly wheel [of capability and skills] being created,” he said.

Co-Director of RMIT’s Blockchain Innovation Hub, Distinguished Professor Jason Potts, echoed Rouse’s enthusiasm and outlined the importance of bringing in the right skills – both from students and people in the current workforce being retrained – to run a new suite of exciting digital technologies including Blockchain.

Speaking about the Digital CBD project, Potts said a combination of tech and code and regulation becomes a new, huge comparative advantage that Australia could lead the world in.

“This is technical universities coming into their own, this is our moment to really lead this innovation agenda and rebuild the 21st century economy,” he said.

CEO and Managing Director, Siemens Digital Industries Software AU/NZ, Samantha Murray said Australia needed to continue punching above its weight to be a global leader in digital transformation.

Speaking about the Industrial Digital Innovation Hub at RMIT, Murray said RMIT expected as many as 10,000 students across a range of disciplines including engineering, science, technology, health and design to access some of the most advanced industrial software by Siemens across the next three years and beyond.

“It has never been so important to provide this type of industrial digital environment for the development of the workforce of the future that we are so passionate about,” she said.

Rita Arrigo, Deputy Director of RMIT’s recently announced Centre for Industrial AI Research and innovation (CIAIRI), outlined how CIAIRI will help industry embrace and implement AI to grow the economy and generate jobs.

“We’re working with industries to solve some of the hard problems discussed today, ranging from health where we’re using computer vision to dramatically improve the detection of prostate cancer, through to transport and decarbonisation of our cities,” she said.

Arrigo also acknowledged the collective effort required to achieve digital innovation, particularly when it comes to workforce transformation.

“Being a team sport, it’s so exciting and I think it’s an area where collaboration is key,” she said.