So, we set off to Melbourne on 9th September to attend INORMS (International Network of Research Management Societies) and ISRIA (International School of Research Impact Assessment), excited to meet friends old and new, and to experience the cosmopolitan city of Australia. After 30 weary hours of travel, we realised our first mistake was to imagine that the weather would be glorious (years of watching Neighbours told us that it only rains when there is a sad event). It was wet and cold…for pretty much our whole trip.

Not to be deterred, and despite jet-lag and a challenging first day erecting our INORMS stand, we got stuck in to the excellent INORMS programme. The opening plenary from Simon McKeon, Chancellor of Monash University, focussed on the need for broader impact, and how communication plays a crucial part in that. McKeon noted that a failing of some otherwise brilliant researchers is a disconnect from broader society – those who could benefit from the research. Despite the need, however, research communication is rarely resourced properly and is often the first to be cut in budgets.

The presentations were wide-ranging – Michelle Gallaher, co-founder of The Social Science, on the disconnect between research and industry, and how to bridge that gap; Jonathan Grant, Director of The Policy Institute at King’s College London, on the whys and wherefores of assessing research impact, which preceded a controversial and stimulating debate on the definition and value of impact; Susan Zimmerman, Executive Director of the Secretariat on Responsible Conduct of Research, Canada, on responsible research management; and Mr Zhang Xiaoyuan, Director General of Resources Management and Allocation, Ministry of Science and Technology, P.R. China, on the rise and rise of the research economy in China.

INORMS in Melbourne will be a tough act to follow, but our partners ARMA host the 2018 INORMS event in beautiful city of Edinburgh, and it promises to be a very special event.

From INORMS (via a tour of the Neighbours set, and a visit to Northern Git for a Sunday roast…) to ISRIA, hosted by CSIRO. Greg Hunt, MP, spoke about the need for customer first science to drive innovation, noting that research alone will fail to deliver and translate benefits, so the research community must also focus on commercialisation. Alan Finkel, Australia’s Chief Scientist, talked about the need for scientists to inspire – “if we do our jobs right and communicate the outcomes, [the public] will be excited”. A distinguished panel discussed the competitiveness of Australia, and the outstanding talent underpinning this.

We came away from Melbourne delighted to have been a part of two thought-provoking and stimulating events, and excited about the developments and potential in Australia – always forward thinking, open and innovative in its approach. Thanks to everyone who took the time to visit our stand and attend our sessions – it was a pleasure to meet you all, and we hope to be back soon!