University of Queensland Research Impact Strategy

Impact Design

The University of Queensland (UQ) aims to transform its research culture to one more clearly focussed on transdisciplinarity, delivery of impacts and successful collaboration with external partners. We were engaged by the UQ Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) to facilitate the co-design of five themes for strategic priorities.


Researchers at UQ


UQ’s position in the QS World University rankings (2020)


Strategic Behaviour Change Initiatives proposed to help UQ achieve its Research Vision

About the project

We live in a world facing increasingly complex environmental, social and economic challenges. UQ recognises its role has evolved and thus it has proactively developed a clear vision for its research activities: To be a globally leading research-intensive university known for delivering profound and positive impacts across Queensland, Australia and the world. This vision has implications for how UQ undertakes its research, who it collaborates with, and which research challenges it chooses to focus on. We were engaged by the UQ Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) to facilitate the co-design of five strategic impact themes to guide and focus the research and collaboration direction of 3500 UQ researchers and their many external partners.

The problem

For most universities, including UQ, there is a long-term culturally embedded history of research aimed at knowledge generation within disciplines rather than collaboration towards impact, and the skills and capabilities required to achieve the global change are lacking. The incentives to drive that change are not easily adopted, and the current structures are rigid and globally reinforced across the academic labour market by most modern universities. Among the many complexities in attempting to transform the UQ research culture is the number of departments and number of researchers (3500+) within the university, who will all vary in their commitment to the change they are being asked to embrace.

The solution

AI facilitated a discussion with UQ staff and external partners to develop a Research Impact Strategy using a combination of human-centred design and lean and complex systems methods. We collected information on and analysed the perspectives and experiences of over 100 individuals (internal and external) in relation to UQ research partnerships, and quantitatively analysed the university’s research performance in the context of the five impact themes. From those analyses, we generated insights and initiatives and built these into a highly implementable strategic plan to assist UQ in creating a research culture that promotes more impactful behaviours, globally and locally relevant impact goals and pathways, funding mechanisms and innovation methods tailored for diverse transdisciplinary teams.