Or respond to a challenge that hasn’t yet arrived?
With technology disrupting organisations on an unprecedented scale, everyone is longing for a crystal ball to see if the next wave is one they can ride—or one that can wipe them out.
Partnering with industry, QUT aims to offer a glimpse of the future, identifying opportunities and challenges before it’s too late.
“In a world that is so opportunity rich, organisations and their leaders need capabilities that go far beyond established problem solving skills,” Professor Michael Rosemann, QUT Executive Director, Corporate Engagement, said.
“In the digital age, the amount of what you don’t know will increase. However, organisations tend to focus on looking inside as opposed to sensing what is possible. We call this stage unconscious incompetence, i.e. they don’t know what they don’t know.
“In this context, universities can help make sense of this environment, with early identification, validation and assessment of emerging trends— working out what developments will have true impacts that require recognition and what is just noise.”
Professor Rosemann said QUT worked with corporate partners across industries, from local hospitals and high schools to ASX-listed companies and global businesses.
“We are in most cases industry agnostic. As a consequence, we can broker successful concepts across industry sectors and we are open for business for anyone,” he said.
“QUT has the needs of its corporate customers at the core of all our engagements so our collaborations are driven by the partner’s requirements. “The scientific mindset and toolset of our academics provides our partners with new pathways and improves their evidence-based management practices.”
QUT’s corporate partnerships include everything from student internships lasting a few weeks to in-depth research projects and transdisciplinary partnerships spanning several years.
“It is not enough anymore to react to and solve one specific problem. Leaders today need to proactively identify important developments and translate how these will impact their industry,” Professor Rosemann said.
“For example, if you are in car insurance you want to know when the driverless car will be commonplace, and how it will affect your business model.
“We try to be an opportunity creator. We want to open up new perspectives so you can see what else is possible and not just fix what is broken.”
Professor Rosemann said an example of the ‘intellectual agility’ QUT uses to support partners was the ongoing, 15-year relationship with Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC).
“We have worked with BAC to find solutions in a wide range of areas across various disciplines, from assessing water quality and making airports more accessible for people with dementia, to jointly designing the world-first Digital Departure Card,” he said.
Partnerships also allow QUT researchers to identify research opportunities early.
“This helps reduce what we call ‘research latency’—the time from when a topic emerges to when we conduct credible research,” Professor Rosemann said.
“We are working with organisations at the forefront of their industries and it inspires researchers to think about topics they may not have engaged with previously. You don’t come up with these ideas just sitting at your desk.”
Professor Rosemann said QUT was committed to forming and nurturing long-lasting relationships to help navigate continuously evolving environments.
“Our ambition is to be a trusted innovation partner so when an organisation needs to transform, our research-informed insights can help them on that journey,” he said.
“We provide a comprehensive offering so partners can interact with our academics, as well as our students or entrepreneurs to gain insights and inspirations.
“The future is filled with a multitude of opportunities and challenges and our role is to help others understand today what tomorrow’s world looks like.”
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“Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) is a strong believer that working together with the university sector can drive innovation and critical thinking while enhancing organisational culture
The partnership between BAC and QUT has allowed us to realise many innovative projects together that have helped Brisbane Airport earn its reputation as one of the best airports in the world. In return, the engagement of students and combining teaching with cases from ‘the real world’ provides invaluable experience for undergraduates.
One of the achievements we’re most proud of is becoming the first airport in Australia to be recognised as a dementia-friendly organisation by Alzheimer’s Australia. This recent accreditation was the result of a joint project and research grant between BAC and QUT’s School of Nursing. As a result, an action plan was delivered that included auditing of existing facilities, the development of dementia-friendly traveller guides and dementia awareness training for key airport staff.”
Professor Marek Kowalkiewicz is an example of a flourishing corporate partnership. Professor Kowalkiewicz is the QUT-based PwC Chair in Digital Economy—a partnership between QUT’s Business School and Science and Engineering Faculty, PwC, the Queensland Government and Brisbane Marketing.