Supporting innovation in Victorian SMEs

The Digital Futures Hub will provide small and medium enterprises (SMEs) impacted by digital disruption and now reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic with access to a new collaboration and innovation hub at Deakin University’s Burwood Campus.

The repurposed and redesigned space and services will concentrate on SMEs in sectors such as manufacturing, utilities, health and social care, traders, technical trades, agriculture, professional services and technology providers.

In its first two years the project will deliver an array of services and allow businesses to access Deakin’s research, education, and partnership capabilities to provide support services and technologies to drive business growth in a post-COVID world.

The project has been supported by a $2 million dollar investment through the Victorian Government’s Higher Education State Investment Fund (VHESIF), a further $1 million will come from industry investment, while Deakin is backing the project with $3.5 million.

Projects and timelines

Businesses that partner with The Digital Futures Hub will have access to Deakin’s expertise in business, law, arts, health and information technology domains such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence (AI) and data science, the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), software engineering, machine learning and automation.

This will be combined with Deakin’s know-how in industry collaboration and translational research and commercialisation, resulting in impactful business growth and solutions for SMEs.

Cyber Defence Centre (CDC)

Deakin's Centre for Cyber Security Research and Innovation (CSRI) will be helping SMEs become more cyber resilient with a range of services and programs through the Cyber Defence Centre (CDC).

Delivering an Australian-first, the CDC will have a live, student-run Security Operations Centre (SOC) protecting SMEs; offering penetration/vulnerability testing facilities and an Industrial Control System/OT showcase demonstrating security innovations.

SME Health Checks

Health checks will be conducted by Deakin’s Faculty of Business and Law, the School of IT and partner organisations to identify new product opportunities, funding, cashflow and efficiency improvements, and potential new markets.

Completion of the Innovation and Collaboration Hub

The construction of The Digital Futures Hub at Burwood will be completed and operational in late March, 2022. Once open, it will host:

  • A live Cyber Defence Centre and Cyber Testing and Hacking Lab to help businesses improve their cyber awareness and resilience.
  • Two Co-Innovation Labs an an Industry Makers Room to create new products, devices and industrial systems.
  • An Advanced AI, Robotics and Automation Lab exploring artificial intelligence, machine learning, the Internet of Thing, advanced data analytics and mixed reality executions to help businesses innovate.
  • An Events Space and executive briefing rooms to host eco-system events, digital trade-shows, and industry forums and roundtables.
  • Sprint Rooms designed for 'idea hacking' of some of Victoria's SMEs prominent challenges.
  • Facilitation spaces for deep discovery and design-thinking work.

Enhancing Victoria's research capabilities

The Digital Futures Hub will also provide end-to-end small to medium enterprise support while enhancing Victoria's research capabilities through:

  • Establishing a collaboration fund to support approved partners and projects.
  • Fitting out the Cyber Defence Centre (CDC) in Burwood.
  • Establishing an industry co-innovation lab for development of new digital, cyber security and artificial intelligence (AI) enabled technologies.
  • Jobs creation. The project is expected to create 122 direct jobs by 2025, with more expected to be created within the SMEs participating in the program.
  • Providing SMEs with specialist cyber security expertise to protect Victorian businesses.
  • Providing SMEs access to Deakin’s highly successful SPARK and ManuFutures programs.

Professional Development Through Free Virtual Courses

To provide SMEs with additional professional development support, Digital Futures Hub has compiled a list of free courses provided by Deakin University. These courses are virtual available online through the FutureLearn platform.

Regardless of time or pace, participants can join at any time and learn with like-minded peers. An average course lasts for 2 weeks and requires 3 - 4 hours of learning per week.

What is Leadership?
Leadership is often misunderstood due to its complex nature. Learn what being a leader means and how to practice leadership.

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Professional Resilience
Learn how to deal with stress at work and in personal life through building resilience skills.

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Leading Culturally Diverse Teams in the Workplace
Explore why cultural diversity matters in the workplace and how multicultural teams can benefit organisations.

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Crisis Leadership
Discover why leadership is crucial in a crisis and develop crisis management navigation tools.

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Competitive Advantage: Using Information to Build Business Success
Learn the value of information to businesses and how it can give businesses a competitive advantage.

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Investigating Innovation
What is innovation and why is being innovative important in personal and professional life? Find out with this online course.

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Leading Strategic Innovation: How to lead with Purpose
Discover the importance of strategic thinking, innovation and purposeful leadership when dealing with change.

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Partners matter most of all

Just as in the real world of business, industry partners are foundational for the success of The Digital Futures Hub, our future SME leaders, and today’s students.

The coming together of university, industry, government and SMEs can achieve high impact and sustainable sector growth, future education pathways, skills and jobs.

Partners can participate in The Deakin Digital Futures Hub in a number of ways.

  • Industry Prime partners – actively support research, co-innovation projects and/or commercialisation projects with SME’s, related to agreed shared priorities for their industry sector.
  • Sponsors of The Digital Futures Hub – support the Deakin Digital Futures Hub financially so that high quality and affordable (subsidised) services can be provided to SMEs.
  • Educational pathways partners – collaborate to provide students (under and post graduate) with integrated work experiences and may also co-design learning pathways and credentials that will positively impact future work skills and jobs.
  • Mentors, coaches, delivery partners and technology partners for The Digital Futures Hub eco-system – contribute expertise or technologies to enable services.

To find out how you can partner with us contact The Deakin Digital Futures Hub.

Get in touch

This project includes co-contributions from the Victorian Higher Education State Investment Fund (VHESIF).

For further information on our other VHESIF funded projects please visit the links below.

Contact Us

For all enquiries about The Digital Futures Hub project please contact the team.

Contact us