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La Trobe Business School

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The CR3+ Conference is coming up!

The CR3+ Conference, hosted by La Trobe Business School, is just two weeks away. Where is this conference about? Why is this conference so important? What are some of the highlights?

What is CR3+?

Initially, Audencia Business School (France), Hanken School of Economics (Finland) and ISAE FGV (Brazil) decided to cooperate in their implementation of the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME). This collaboration resulted in the joint organisation of an international conference on Corporate Responsibility, named CR3. When La Trobe Business School became a signatory of PRME, they joined CR3 and so CR3 became CR3+1. The aim of these four PRME champions is to exchange ideas, pedagogical processes, curriculum and research in the area of corporate responsibility.

2019 CR3+ Conference

On the 24th and 25th of October, LBS is hosting the seventh CR3+ Conference. The theme of the conference is Using dialogue to build partnerships for sustainability.

CR3+ logo - Using dialogue to build partnerships for sustainability

As we work towards building a more sustainable world we cannot work in isolation. Partnerships are necessary to ensure long term success. However, the partnership model may be problematic, with issues arising such as co-option and abuse of power. Differences between actors can also lengthen the journey and make the measure of success difficult to determine. Hence, this conference explores how partnerships can bring about sustainable solutions as we work together on progressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

LBS has arranged a fantastic line-up of keynote speakers, panel discussants and other presenters.


Professor Dennis McDermott, La Trobe University Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous), will be giving an academic keynote on partnerships, with a focus on the role of indigenous values in framing our understanding and implementation of partherships.

Jillian Reid, Principal in the Responsible Investment Team at Mercer, will talk about investing in a time of climate change, the growth in sustainability themed opportunities, and the role of the sustainable development goals in investment decision-making. 

Dr Leeora Black, Principal Risk Advisory at Deloitte Australia, is an expert on the Modern Slavery Act, and she will be speaking about new and different kinds of partnerships that are being driven by the Act.


The workshop Exploring challenges and priorities of embedding SDGs in business schools using Lego SeriousPlay© is an interactive, action-based workshop facilitated by Heather Stewart and Rob Hales from Griffith Business School. This collaborative style of working on individual and group levels is proven to extend ideas, views and often break down assumptions in a safe and non-judgemental environment. The aim of the workshop is to develop new skills in resilience, creativity and lateral thinking in order to employ and establish sustainability within business schools.

Prof. Nava Subramaniam from RMIT and Dr. Raghu Raman from Amrita University are facilitating the workshop Amrita Live-In-Labs, which introduces Live-in-Labs® – a multidisciplinary experiential learning program that breaks down classroom and lab barriers by applying learned theory in real-world settings. This credit-based academic program draws on principles of lean research for the development and deployment of sustainable solutions for current challenges faced by rural communities in India. By directly living in rural communities (labs) and co-designing solutions to development challenges, program participants gain first-hand knowledge and know-how of identifying and assessing community needs and subsequently developing and implementing viable solutions through various participatory methods.


LBS will be using #CR3LTU on Twitter to keep you updated on speakers, presentations and other great conference moments. Join in and share your views and best moments of the conference too!

Our Partners

La Trobe Business School recognises and appreciates the support of its PRME partners and Mercer and Lifeskills in the delivery of this exciting event.  

We’re looking forward to welcome you to the conference!

1Inspirational Guide for the Implementation of PRME: Placing Sustainability at the heart of management education (2017). Edited by Principles for Responsible Management Education. New York: Routledge.  

Starting a Business Later in Life: Mature Entrepreneurs Conference

La Trobe Business School’s Professor of Entrepreneurship Alex Maritz recently delivered a keynote address at the Mature Entrepreneurs Conference organised by Sarina Russo Entrepreneurs. The Conference was part of Entrepreneurship Facilitators, an Australian Government initiative targeting nascent start-up entrepreneurs.

Sarina Russo Entrepreneurs

Sarina Russo Entrepreneurs provides individuals in the Ballarat, Moorabool, Golden Plains, Central Goldfields, Hepburn and Pyrenees regions of Victoria with free and practical support to encourage them to start a business as a way to create their own job. They provide services and advice such as mentoring, education on business industries, help to take a business idea to the next level and setting realistic goals and time frames (

Mature Entrepreneurs Conference

Mature entrepreneurs represent the fastest growing sector of entrepreneurship in Australia. There are many reasons and many advantages to starting a business later in life. Mature age Australians face unique issues and opportunities in today’s labor market and self-employment is becoming a more attractive and viable option for older people wishing to be their own boss. 

The conference was specifically designed for people aged over 50 and explored the theme of entrepreneurship and self-employment as an alternative pathway or option to employment. The keynote address delivered by Alex was titled “Entrepreneur Start-Up Myths Exposed – the Rise of Mature Entrepreneurs in Australia”.

Alex giving his Keynote at the Mature Entrepreneurs Conference
Alex giving his Keynote

Close to 100 delegates, ranging from government officials, mentors and nascent entrepreneurs, heard about the significance of senior entrepreneurship. In his keynote address, Alex identified senior entrepreneurship as the fastest growing sector of entrepreneurship. There is a 9.3% participation rate (3% above that of developed nations), 34% of all entrepreneurs are senior entrepreneurs, and this sector contributes approx. $11.9bn to the Australian economy. Alex also talked about the benefits, which include behavioural, economic and psychological impacts. Adults over 50 are more likely to be self-employed than younger adults are more efficient and successful than their younger counterparts.

For further information on this thought provoking presentation, plus inspirational stories from guest speakers and entrepreneurs, visit

Media appearances by Alex on this topic

Only yesterday, Alex was interviewed on ABC National Radio by Myf Warhurst about why seniorpreneurs are the new force in the digital age. Click the link to listen back the interview: Why seniorpreneurs are the new force in the digital age

Alex was also recently interviewed by The Herald Sun. Click the link to read the article:  How seniorpreneurs are shaking up the start-up sector

What is it like to teach at one of LTU’s partnership universities?

Last year, La Trobe Business School and the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) launched their partnership that includes Top Up programs for the Bachelor of Business (Tourism and Hospitality) and Bachelor of Business (Event Management) in Singapore. Students with an accredited diploma or advanced diploma are given 12 subjects advanced standing, which requires a further 12 subjects to Top Up their qualification to a degree awarded by La Trobe University.

Recently, several LBS teaching staff went to Singapore to deliver a variety of subjects as part of the program. LBS Newsroom caught up with some of them and asked them about their experience.

Jess Derham

Principles of Gastronomy (THS2GSY) and Food & Beverage Supervision (THS1FBS)

Both subjects I taught are practical subjects providing lots of interactive activities. Some of the highlights of the subjects included students designing their own menu’s through to showcasing destinations around the world in a live exhibition. We were also fortunate enough to have a very unique dining experience at Nox Dine In the Dark – a multi-sensory experience where you dine in complete darkness and are served by people who have a vision impairment.

My students were nothing short of amazing! Personally, the experience of teaching overseas allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and test my teaching skills to an international audience. Right from the preparation stage, to navigating a new university in another country, through to forming a bond with my students. It stands to be one of the most rewarding opportunities I have been provided with.

Jess and her class of students at SIM - an LTU partnership university
Jess and her class of students

Greg Dingle

Event Project (THS3SCE) and Volunteer Management (MGT3SVM)

Teaching at SIM was a great experience! It was challenging to teach two subjects that I had never taught before and both in the same week, but it was a very rewarding experience and I highly recommend it to other colleagues in LBS. I was also very fortunate to be part of a teaching team. Teaching is a collegial endeavour and my colleagues were fun to be with as well as to work with. The “Dine in the Dark” experience was also a really unique experience (thanks to Jess for making this possible).

The students were engaged and enthusiastic and I really enjoyed the week with them. They had a sense of humour too which I liked. I Singaporean-“ised” their content as much as possible (e.g. case studies, organisations, assessment examples, etc.) and I think they appreciated that. Walking in the Botanic Gardens at dawn on some mornings before work was also something I really loved. It’s a fantastic space and gave me some insights into how Singaporeans go about their daily lives. I was invited to join a Zumba class at the Gardens one morning, so it really is full of surprises…

Greg and his class of students at SIM - an LTU partnership university
Greg and his class of students

Paul Strickland

Computer Reservation Systems (THS2TCR) and Tourism & Hospitality Simulation (THS3THS)

In the subject Computer Reservation Systems, we teach students the Opera Hotel Property Management System. Being in computer labs, students have a difference experience to lectures and blended learning environments because the labs are designed for students to be self-taught with the tutor just facilitating the functionality of the software.

Teaching in Singapore is very rewarding. Students are very disciplined especially students that have completed national service. They also were very enthusiastic about the reservation system and managed well to work both autonomously and in teams in HOTS. I also really liked all the different types of food the students brought to class and had me try.

Some of Paul's students in the computer lab at SIM - an LTU partnership university
Some of Paul’s students in the computer lab

Anne Brouwer

Sustainability (BUS2SBY) and Social Media and Relationship Marketing (MKT3SRM)

In 2018 I was at the Dalian Jiaotong University in China for two weeks to deliver an LBS subject and absolutely loved the experience, so I didn’t have to think twice when I was asked to teach at the Singapore Institute of Management. It was a very intense week. I was new to both subjects, had to teach 6 hours a day and there is obviously a lot of preparation and administration work involved. But it was so worth it!

Even though the students were not used to the interactive way of teaching that we do at LTU (blended learning) they seemed to really enjoy it and got really excited over their in-class group work. There is just something about teaching in a different country, with a different culture and a different language. Ultimately, I think I learn as much from them, as they do from me.

Anne and her class of students at SIM - an LTU partnership university
Anne and her class of students
Read more about our SIM partnership: 
LBS’ new partnership with the Singapore Institute of Management

SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 15

SDG 15 - Life on Land

Preserving diverse forms of life on land requires targeted efforts to protect, restore and promote the conservation and sustainable use of terrestrial and other ecosystems. Sustainable development goal fifteen (SDG 15) focuses specifically on managing forests sustainably, halting and reversing land and natural habitat degradation, successfully combating desertification and stopping biodiversity loss (UN Statistics Report, 2019).

The facts

Forests cover 30% of the earth’s surface and are home to more than 80% of all terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. Forests provide vital habitats for millions of species, and important sources for clean air and water, as well as being crucial for combating climate change. Also humans depend on forests for their livelihoods – an approximate 1.6 billion people (UNDP, 2019).

Furthermore, the United Nations Development Programme (2019) lists that:

  • Mountain regions provide 60-80% of the earth’s fresh water
  • Plant life provides 80% of the human diet
  • Humans rely on agriculture as an important economic resource, with 2.6 billion people depending directly on agriculture for a living.
  • The value of ecosystems to human livelihoods and well-being is US$125 trillion per year.
  • Nature-based climate solutions can contribute about a third of CO2 reductions by 2030.

Australia’s progress on SDG 15

“The main pressures affecting the Australian environment today are the same as in 2011, climate change, land-use change, habitat fragmentation and degradation and invasive species.”

State of the Environment Report (2016)

In Australia’s Voluntary National Review into the implementation of the SDGs, the government recognises the links between biodiversity, economic activity, and health and wellbeing.  This requires a multiple-stakeholder approach to addressing SDG 15, including businesses, environmental non-government organisations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, community groups and individuals. In other words, everyone has an interest in maintaining the health and productivity of the land, but particularly those who derive their income and employment from it or have a cultural connection. However, the most recent State of the Environment Report (2016) found that Australia’s biodiversity is under increased threat and has, overall, continued to decline. More than 1,700 species and ecological communities are known to be threatened and at risk of extinction.

In terms of deforestation, some complexity exists in measuring overall forest area owing both to definitions and technical improvements in methods. Nonetheless, the consensus is that forest area is in decline and this trend is expected to continue in the absence of regulatory change. By one international measure, Australia now ranks among the top nations for deforestation (Transforming Australia Report, 2018). Notwithstanding the deterioration in biodiversity and increased deforestation, there are a number of initiatives under way that aim to address these, including The National Landcare Program, The Australian Business and Biodiversity Initiative, The Responsible Wood Certification Scheme, Digital Earth Australia and legislation including the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Agribusiness at La Trobe

The agricultural sector is one of Victoria’s biggest export earners and has been identified as one of the most promising sectors for Australia’s regional economy. Hence, there is strong demand for industry professionals who have skills in areas such as agribusiness and rural banking, export business and government agencies.

La Trobe Business School launched the Bachelor of Business (Agribusiness) in 2017 and is taught at all Regional Victorian La Trobe University campuses including Bendigo, Shepparton, Albury-Wodonga and Mildura. During the degree, students do not only develop skills in financing, marketing and managing agricultural businesses, but also, in line with SDG 15, focuses on creating responsible, engaged and innovative graduates equipped to help farmers improve their food production sustainably and reduce the impact on declining resources (learn more about the degree here).

SDG Video

The video on SDG 15 is produced by our CR3+ Partner Audencia Business School from Nantes, France.  In the video, Dr Céline Louche discusses the sustainable development goal in depth, explains what terrestrial ecosystems are and what the role of businesses is regarding SDG 15. In the second part of the video, Céline interviews Rémi-Pierre Lapprend – CSR Manager at Maisons du Monde a French furniture and home decor company. The company sees SDG 15 as a framework that provides objectives and a vision regarding sustainable sourcing of wood – the most important natural resource the company uses. Through certification such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest (PECF), traceability programs set with Non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) and working with experts on deforestation and biodiversity for the Maisons du Monde Foundation, the company ensures that wood that is used does not contribute to deforestation.

Please enjoy the presentation.

If you would like access to the full video to use in your teaching, please contact Dr Swati Nagpal.

This blog is part of the SDG Series, a series that focuses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, in the lead up to the CR3+ Conference in October 2019.

More blogs in the SDG Series:
- An introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 1
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 2
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 3
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 4
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 5
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 6
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 7
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 8
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 9
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 10
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 11
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 12
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 13
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 14

Presenting your PhD in three minutes

During LTU’s Research Week, the 3MT University Championship took place where LBS PhD Candidate Piyumini (Piu) Wijenayake presented her PhD topic in only three minutes. The University Championship, coordinated by the Graduate Research School (GRS), is the final stage of the competition at LTU. The winner is awarded a prize and travel support to attend the Asia-Pacific competition in Queensland.

So what is 3MT and how do you reach the university finals?

Piu presenting at LTU's 3MT University Championship
Piu presenting at LTU’s 3MT University Championship


The Three Minute Thesis competition (or 3MT) is an annual academic competition where PhD candidates explain their research topic to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes. The competition was developed by The University of Queensland (UQ) in 2008 and has spread to over 600 universities across more than 65 countries worldwide. There are strict rules:

  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted. No slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any description are allowed. The slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration.
  • No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
  • No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
  • Presentations are to commence from the stage.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through either movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

School Level

At LTU you first compete at the School level and then have to make it through the College level before you compete at the University level. This year, three PhD candidates participated at the School Level.

Chi Kwan Ng

PhD candidate in the Department of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Marketing (EIM)

Chi Kwan’s thesis examines the reasons behind why individuals are and are not practicing pro-environmental behaviours. Findings show that having experienced others’ guidance and support, as well accountability toward the individual throughout the transitional process are strong elements for the successful adoption of pro-environmental behaviours. This implies mentoring, as well as the importance of mentoring and the provision of immediate support for new adopters in order to increase the successful practice of pro-environmental behaviours.

Chi Kwan presenting her PhD topic during the 3MT Competition
Chi Kwan presenting her PhD topic

Piu Wijenayake

PhD candidate in the Department of Accounting and Data Analytics (ADA)

Piu’s presentation was titled “How about an Artificial Hug?”. Her thesis investigates how artificial intelligence and social media can help create more caring organisations. Can we prevent university students from dropping out of their degree? Or help hospital patients sooner and better?

Piu presenting her PhD topic during the 3MT Competition
Piu presenting her PhD topic

Chamila Wijethissa

PhD candidate in the Department of Management, Sport and Tourism (MST)

Chamila started her PhD at the end of 2018 and her thesis focuses on board faultlines in sporting organizations in Australia. Her 3MT presentation focused on the word “faultlines” –  defined as “hypothetical dividing lines that may split members of a group into subgroups based on the combined effects of various attributes of the group members”.

Chamila presenting her PhD topic during the 3MT Competition
Chamila presenting her PhD topic

The judging panel at the School level consisted of Dr Gordon Boyce (Director of Graduate Research), Dr Ninh Nguyen (Lecturer in Marketing), Dr Esin Ozdil (Lecturer in Accounting). Piu Wijenayake came out on top with Chi Kwan as runner up.

The 3MT judging panel with the presenters
The judging panel with the presenters

College and University level

Both the winner and runner up compete at the College of ASSC Final where Piu managed to not only be runner-up but also take home the People’s Choice Award – given to the best presenter according to the audience.

Unfortunately Piu didn’t win the 3MT University Championship but that doesn’t make us less proud of her! Also a big congratulations to Nicole Shackleton of the La Trobe Law School for winning the 2019 University 3MT Championship with her presentation on gendered hate speech!

SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 14

Australia’s challenge in the next decades is to realise the potential economic benefits of the marine estate while maintaining social and environmental values… Oceans are inextricably linked to some of the most pressing challenges facing society, both in Australia and globally, in the next decades: maritime sovereignty and security, energy security, food security, biodiversity conservation and ecosystem health, climate variability and change and the policy challenge of equitable resource allocation.

Oceans Policy Science Advisory Group (2013, report: Marine Nation 2025)

The facts

The ocean covers three quarters of the earth’s surface and represents 99% of the living space on the planet by volume. In addition, the ocean contains nearly 200,000 identified species, but actual numbers may lie in the millions. Some facts pointing out the importance of the ocean to us:

  • It absorbs about 30% of carbon dioxide produced by humans, buffering the impacts of global warming.
  • The market value of marine and coastal resources and industries is estimated at US$3 trillion per year, about 5% of global GDP.
  • More than 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods.

Unfortunately, as much as 40% of the ocean is heavily affected by pollution, depleted fisheries, loss of coastal habitats and other human activities, which means that increased efforts and interventions are needed to conserve and sustainably use ocean resources at all levels (UNDP, 2019).

The focus of SDG 14

The aim of sustainable development goal fourteen (SDG 14) is to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.  SDG 14 targets are aimed at reducing all marine pollution by 2025 and to conserve marine and coastal ecosystems by 2020. Management plans will be implemented to prevent over-fishing, illegal fishing, and to rehabilitate marine life. Consequently, the aim is to conserve at least 10% of all marine areas by 2020 (SDG Knowledge Platform 2019).

How is SDG 14 relevant to business and what can business do?

The world’s oceans play an essential part in human survival – without water, life is impossible. Apart from providing us with drinking water, food, and rain, our oceans also serve as a platform for water transportation and trade.

As mentioned above, the ocean helps lessen the effects of global warming by absorbing about 30% of carbon dioxide, it creates employment by being the biggest source of protein on the planet and has a market value of an estimated US$3 trillion annually (about 5% of global GDP). Beyond fishing and aquaculture, oceans and coastal areas support tourism and many other industries. For millions of people in developing countries, the oceans and seas are their salvation. These benefits to livelihood must be balanced with environmental considerations (UN Global Compact, 2019).

According the United Nations’ Global Compact Network Australia, companies:

  • Should review the use of plastics throughout their operations – from how plastic is used through the value chain and in their products (e.g. excessive packaging). Inaction on use of plastics contributes significantly to ocean degradation. 
  • Those involved in the sale of seafood, should ensure it comes from sustainable sources and have a role to play in community education.
  • Businesses that use the services of cargo ships within their value chain also should investigate the environmental credentials of the vessels being used and consider this in procurement decisions.

More broadly, any steps to mitigate climate change will help oceans as well as the global environment.

Interaction of SDG 14 with the other SDGs

A recent Guide to SDG Interactions: From Science to Implementation published by the International Council for Science (ICSU, 2017) highlights that all SDGs interact with one another.  By design, they are an integrated set of global priorities and objectives that are fundamentally interdependent. The report further finds that SDG 14 is one of the SDGs that is most synergistic with others, both positively and negatively. Understanding these interactions is seen as important to ensure that that target is achieved whilst also ensuring that progress made in some areas is not made at the expense of progress in others. Examples of these interactions include:

SDG 14 is a critical enabler of poverty alleviation, and environmentally sustainable economic growth and social well-being (‘blue growth’), particularly in small island developing states (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs).

Oceans and seas are major sources of water in the hydrological cycle and therefore require sustainable management through integrated water management that addresses the multiplicity and diversity of water actors.

Increasing the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix and improving energy efficiency, reliability and affordability will enhance sustainability and help reduce ocean acidification through reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

Responsible consumption and production, such as sustainable management of natural resources or the reduction of wastes, are critical for ending overfishing, sustainably managing marine and coastal ecosystems and reducing marine pollution.

SDG Video

The video below is created by our CR3+ partner Hanken School of Economics (Finland). In the first part of the video Dr Nikodemus Solitander discusses the targets set for SDG 14 and focuses particularly on reducing marine pollution (target 4.1) and sustainable fishing (target 4.4). These targets are further explained by Amanda Sundell, founder of the organisation DROPP – a social enterprise that donates all of its profits to help protect the Baltic Sea. Amanda talks about how DROPP came about, its two products which are spring water and lightweight reusable water bottles, their partnership with the Baltic Sea Action Group and universities, and their system of donating 100% of their profit to support the environmental rehabilitation of the Baltic Sea.

Please enjoy the presentation.

If you would like access to the full video to use in your teaching, please contact Dr Swati Nagpal.

This blog is part of the SDG Series, a series that focuses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, in the lead up to the CR3+ Conference in October 2019.

More blogs in the SDG Series:
- An introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 1
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 2
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 3
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 4
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 5
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 6
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 7
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 8
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 9
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 10
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 11
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 12
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 13

LBS PhD candidates give highly anticipated deep learning workshop

LBS hosted the 3rd International Conference on Big Data and Internet of Things (BDIOT 2019) and provided a workshop on deep learning for big data and internet of things (IoT) applications.

About BDIOT 2019

The main purpose of BDIOT 2019 was to provide an international platform for presenting and publishing the latest scientific research outcomes related to the topics of big data and IoT. The rapid advancement and ubiquitous penetration of mobile network, web-based information creation and sharing, and software defined networking technology have been enabling sensing, predicting and controlling of the physical world with information technology. Every business process can be empowered, and therefore, various industries redesign their business models and processes along the paradigm.

Deep-learning workshop

Rashmika Nawaratne and Achini Adikari provided a workshop on deep learning for big data and internet of things (IoT) applications. The workshop demonstrated how to use deep learning theories in practical applications such as transport, health and energy. Around 25 participants from diverse backgrounds, such as IoT, Business, Sports, Data Mining, Computer Science and Geography, took part in the workshop. Participants came from countries such as Japan, Germany, China, Thailand, India and Pakistan.

The workshop conveners

Rashmika and Achini are LBS PhD candidates and researchers at our Centre for Data Analytics and Cognition (CDAC). Rashmika is pursing research on brain inspired Artificial Intelligent (AI) algorithms. During his PhD, he plans to conceptualize, design and develop a brain inspired self-learning AI algorithm to comprehend video and IoT data that can be used in application areas such as national security, smart cities and smart homes. Achini is engaged in multiple research projects involving text analysis in public health forums and social media data, with a particular interest in human emotions analysis using self-learning AI. Her PhD focuses on modelling emotions from digital data in social media conversations using novel AI techniques. Prior to their PhD, both Rashmika and Achini have worked as Technical Team Leads at Software Product Engineering Organizations.

Rashmika during the deep learning workshop
Rashmika during the deep learning workshop

What is deep learning?

Deep learning is a persistently maturing artificial intelligence paradigm in research and practice. It maintains a formidable evidence base and increasing potential for applications in big data and IoT environments in energy, manufacturing, transport, communication and human engagement. According to Rashmika it is essential to showcase the practical use of these AI techniques in real-world scenarios rather than only focusing on theories and concepts.

The workshop

The workshop aimed to develop essential knowledge of deep learning and key skills in industrial applications using big data and IoT, and incorporated hands-on tutorials in Python, using Google Collaboratory and Jupyter Notebook.

Rashmika and Achini started with exploring the structural elements of deep learning models, hyper-parameters, and comparison to standard machine learning algorithms, followed by the theory and application of deep neural networks (classification), convolutional neural networks (image processing), and deep recurrent neural networks (time-series prediction). Participants then attempted hands-on experiments with each technique using a benchmark dataset, for training, testing and evaluation. Rashmika and Achini also demonstrated each technique in the context of separate real-life projects which accommodate big data and IoT data. One of these real-life projects was vehicular traffic prediction using IoT smart sensor data setup of arterial road networks. The real-life scenario contains over 190 million records of smart sensor network traffic data generated by 545,851 commuters.

After completing the workshop, participants walked away with solid theoretical foundations of deep learning, when to use it and in which industrial settings, how to design, implement, validate and deploy deep learning models in industrial settings. Feedback from participants has been very positive.

“Most of the workshops on deep learning focus on theoretical aspects, but this workshop focused on practical aspects of using deep learning for industry applications on Big Data and IoT.”

“Easy to understand for a beginner. For a person who do not have a background in AI, it was quite easy to capture the essence of what deep learning means and its hype.”

“Was able to understand what deep learning is and completely implement an AI solution for a business problem within 3 hours.”

SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 13

SDG 13 - Climate action

Affordable, scalable solutions are now available to enable countries to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies. The pace of change is quickening as more people are turning to renewable energy and a range of other measures that will reduce emissions and increase adaptation efforts. Climate change, however, is a global challenge that does not respect national borders. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives, costing people, communities and countries dearly today and even more tomorrow. It is an issue that requires solutions that need to be coordinated at the international level to help developing countries move toward a low-carbon economy.

The facts

Weather patterns are changing, sea levels are rising, weather events are becoming more extreme and greenhouse gas emissions are now at their highest levels in history. Without action, the world’s average surface temperature is likely to surpass 3 degrees centigrade this century, affecting the poorest and most vulnerable people the most. Some more facts regarding sustainable development goal thirteen (SDG 13):

  • Sea levels have risen by about 20 cm (8 inches) since 1880 and are projected to rise another 30–122 cm (1 to 4 feet) by 2100.
  • Climate pledges under The Paris Agreement cover only one third of the emissions reductions needed to keep the world below 2°C.
  • To limit warming to 1.5°C, global net CO2 emissions must drop by 45% between 2010 and 2030, and reach net zero around 2050.
  • Bold climate action could trigger at least US$26 trillion in economic benefits by 2030.
  • The energy sector alone will create around 18 million more jobs by 2030, focused specifically on sustainable energy (UNDP, 2019).

The focus of SDG 13

The aim of SDG 13 to mobilize US$100 billion annually by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries to both adapt to climate change and invest in low-carbon development. Supporting vulnerable regions will directly contribute not only to SDG 13 but also to the other SDGs (UNDP, 2019). Of the five SDG 13 targets, the first three cover strengthening resilience and adaptive capacity, integrating climate change actions into policies and strategies and raising awareness. The final two are development targets used to support developing countries in line with the UN Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Australia’s performance on SDG 13

A 2018 article by The Conversation highlights that Australia is performing relatively well in areas such as health and wellbeing, and providing good-quality education. But its results for the environmental goals and climate change are among the worst in the OECD group of advanced nations. Read the article here.

What is La Trobe University doing?

It was recently announced that La Trobe University will be Victoria’s first major university to become carbon neutral by 2029 and our regional campuses are set to become carbon neutral by 2022. Find more information about this ambitious project here. Furthermore, in 2016, the University Council endorsed a plan to fully divest from fossil-fuel related company investments over five years and commit to greater transparency on the carbon footprint of companies held in its investment portfolio.

Across our teaching efforts, there are a range of subjects focused on climate change at the undergraduate and postgraduate level. From 2015 all students undertaking undergraduate programs at La Trobe University will complete at least one subject that has the ‘Sustainability Thinking’ Learning Essential embedded in it. Sustainability Thinking is the capacity to engage effectively with social, environmental and economic change and challenges in the contemporary world. These include, for example, climate change, food and water security and human and labour rights.

Upcoming LTU event

The Ideas and Society Program at La Trobe University, convened by Professor Robert Manne, is a forum for discussion about the future of Australia and beyond. In September the program is hosting a debate on: Climate Change and Australia: Where to Now? Please follow the link to find out more and to register:

SDG Video

The video on SDG 13 is produced by our CR3+ Partner Audencia Business School from Nantes, France.  In the video, Dr Céline Louche discusses the sustainable development goal in depth, including some more facts and figures on climatic events and global warming. She also discusses the role businesses play when it comes to climate action and provides examples. Actions companies can take are attempting to decarbonise their operations and supply chain by improving energy efficiency; reducing the carbon footprint of their products and services; setting ambitious emissions reduction targets; and investing in innovative low carbon products and services. The second part of the video shows Dr Jennifer Goodman, also from Audencia Business School, and Hugues Chenet, research associate at the University College of London and Chair on Energy and Prosperity in Paris. Hugues is also co-founder of the 2 Degrees Investing Initiative. Jennifer interviews Hugues about his co-founded initiative and about what finance can do for SDG 13.

Please enjoy the presentation.

If you would like access to the full video to use in your teaching, please contact Dr Swati Nagpal.

This blog is part of the SDG Series, a series that focuses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, in the lead up to the CR3+ Conference in October 2019.

More blogs in the SDG Series:
- An introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 1
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 2
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 3
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 4
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 5
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 6
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 7
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 8
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 9
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 10
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 11
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 12

LBS Innovation Series: Data analytics for food and agribusiness

In 2017, The Economist published an article titled “The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data”. Hence, during the 2018 Innovation in Food and Agribusiness Forum, Dr Kok-Leong Ong, Associate Professor in Business Analytics at LBS and a researcher at our Centre for Data Analytics and Cognition (CDAC), discussed how digital technologies like internet of things (IoT) devices and the digital supply chain can create opportunities to utilise data to help drive the food and agribusiness industry.

The use of technology in farming

Data processing

Advances in digital technology bring new capabilities. Think about real-time data streams, large scale data storage and management, advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to power new analytical solutions. On top of that, companies keep designing new and better processing systems for all that data. For example, Apple´s A12 Bionic iPhone Chip includes dedicated neural network hardware, has eight cores and can perform up to 5 trillion 8-bit operations per second. All that computing power in a small form factor means we can expect smart-farming to be more sophisticated than it is now in the coming years.

Smart farming

Smart farming and IoT for agriculture are shaping the future of agriculture. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations defines smart farming as “a farming management concept using modern technology to increase the quantity and quality of agricultural products” (FAO, 2017). Nowadays, farmers have access to radio-frequency identification (RFID), GPS, soil scanning, data management, and IoT technologies. They can precisely measure variations within a field and adapting their strategy accordingly and with that increasing the effectiveness of pesticides and fertilizers, but also using them more selectively. It also allows farmers to better monitor the needs of individual animals and adjust their nutrition, preventing disease and enhancing herd health.

The context around this need for smart farming is further driven by multiple factors. For example, global warming and changing environmental conditions are placing a lot of stress on farmers. While yield in the crops are impacted by drought or floods, the global population is growing and demand out of China and India means farmers need ways to increase yield in a less nurturing environment in order to meet these demands. Smart farming thus becomes an important proposition for farmers. Collectively with the different sensors, powerful computers and new advances in data analytics, farmers can look into better yield management and automation to replace slow and costly labour.


Research in this space within Australia is already growing, with researchers in Analytics working with mechanical engineers to develop weeding machines, or robotic fruit pickers. The weeding machine uses vision and AI to autonomously move around the field killing weeds without hurting the crops. Similarly, the robotic fruit picker will consistently pick fruits without damaging its surface thus ensuring that farmers get the most out of their harvest. However, smart farming and digital agriculture in Australia is still in an immature state (Trindall, Rainbow & Leonard, 2018). Adoption of digital and analytics technologies among food and agriculture businesses are either low or patchy.


An example of a company that is doing really well in this space is AgriNous. Based in Bendigo and founded in 2016, AgriNous is a transnational platform that facilitates real-time processing of livestock sales. Their application is a mix of technology, customer service and industry insights. AgriNous won the 2018 Inventor of the Year at the Bendigo Inventor Awards and took part in the La Trobe Accelerator Program (LTAP).

Smart farming challenges

While smart farming is promising many benefits to farmers, there are challenges as with other technologies. With the growing adoption of equipment and services that collect and analyse farm data, the agricultural industry could face increased cyber targeting. This could include theft, but data may also be vulnerable to ransomware and data destruction. Farmers need to be aware of and understand the associated cyber risks to their data and ensure that companies entrusted to manage their data, develop adequate cybersecurity and breach response plans (FBI Cyber Bulletin, 2016). In addition, according to an article by Trindall, Rainbow and Leonard (2018) Australian producers and agricultural stakeholders lack trust in data management systems and require improved digital knowledge. Other challenges are access to finance, telecommunications connectivity shortfalls, impartial advice, and interoperability and reliability. Therefore, the journey to a smart farm is still an on-going one, but research in this space will address these issues, as with any innovation that involves technologies.

This blog is part of the LBS Innovation Series, developed by Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice in Economics at La Trobe Business School. 
More blogs in the LBS Innovation Series:
- LBS Innovation Series: Gaps to perfection
- LBS Innovation Series: Building a global business in a period of disruption
- LBS Innovation Series: Is the Australian agriculture sector ready to grow?
- LBS Innovation Series: Agtech – Agriculture’s Disrupter or Saviour?
- LBS Innovation Series: Crossing the Chasm – Agtech & innovation ecosystems
- LBS Innovation Series: Innovation and the Agribusiness Taskforce
- LBS Innovation Series: Supply challenges and consumer expectations
- LBS Innovation Series: Robotics and AI are coming your way
- LBS Innovation Series: Consumer trends and future foods
- LBS Innovation Series: The future of agricultural production systems
- LBS Innovation Series: Cities that feed our planet
- LBS Innovation Series: Is big data the answer for the future of agribusiness?
- LBS Innovation Series: Lean business model design for food and agribusiness

LBS students recognised at Bendigo Prize Ceremony

Earlier this month, the La Trobe Bendigo Campus celebrated the accomplishments and dedication of its students at the 2019 Bendigo Prize Ceremony at the Ulumbarra Theatre. The Prize Ceremony awarded undergraduate and postgraduate students for recognition of their service, 2018 Academic year results, as well as 2019 scholarships.

LBS Recipients

Various LBS students received awards during the 2019 Bendigo Prize Ceremony. Professor Simon Evans, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce presented the Prize recipients, and Professor Richard Speed, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Regional), congratulated the students on stage.

Georgia Mawson was awarded the CPA Australia Prize – First Year for achieving the highest overall mark in first year accounting subjects.

Georgia Mawson receiving her Prize during the Bendigo Prize Ceremony
Georgia receiving her Prize

Irina Reynolds received the CPA Australia Prize – Second Year AND Third Year. She managed to do all her 2nd and 3rd year accounting subjects in one year plus achieve the highest overall mark in those subjects! The Bendigo Advertiser featured her in an article, recognising this incredible achievement. Here is a link to the article: La Trobe University graduate who dropped out of secondary college lands dream job.

Irina Reynolds receiving her Prize during the Bendigo Prize Ceremony
Irina receiving her Prize

Leah Simpson received the Greg Ellis Memorial Award. The award was established in honour of Greg Ellis who undertook his BA and MA at La Trobe Bendigo Campus and taught across the disciplines of Business, Law, Taxation and Accounting at La Trobe for over a decade. The award is intended to make a significant difference to a high achieving student.

Leah Simpson receiving her Prize during the Bendigo Prize Ceremony
Leah receiving her Prize

Dillon Stiff was awarded the Strategem Community Foundation Prize. The Prize supports people and charities who make a difference.

Dillon Stiff receiving his Prize during the Bendigo Prize Ceremony
Dillon receiving his Prize

LBS congratulates the students with their Prizes!

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