Institute for Future

Embracing the digital age


Our research tackles the grand economic, social and environmental challenges facing the world this century. Through this research theme, we are addressing real-world challenges in the digital sector.

Real-world trends

Digital transformation of businesses and societies is one of the most significant drivers of the wellbeing of societies and individuals. Data is now recognised as an asset and value driver everywhere in the economy, in every sector and every organisation.

Technologies including mobile devices, the Internet of Things, spatial information and big data analytics are having a significant impact on business productivity and processes. New opportunities and industries are emerging, and with them come new challenges and risks relating to privacy, access, security, crime and intellectual property.

Grand challenges

The grand challenges Australia must address in the digital sector are:

  • identifying and capitalising on the commercial and social potential of emerging digital technologies
  • positioning Australia to export digital services to the expanding Asian middle class
  • developing vibrant tech start-up communities in Australia that can seize the opportunities presented by collaborative consumption and the sharing economy.

Our research strategy


Our research is designed to drive these changes in the real world:

  • stronger, more resilient and inclusive communities fostered by the digital age
  • increased value of tech businesses and digitally transformed businesses based in Australia
  • individuals benefit from digital transformation through reduced costs of living, access to new services and a higher quality of life.


We are investigating how to:

  • improve business productivity and profitability by helping organisations to better understand their business, customers and competitors
  • predict and manage the impacts of emerging digital technologies on individuals, businesses and societies by focusing on legislation, sustainability and privacy
  • define new business strategies based on digital transformation of products and services.

Research facilities

We use several specialist research facilities, including:


We draw on the broad expertise of QUT's six faculties, assembling teams of researchers from different disciplines to work on large-scale projects relating to our natural, built and virtual environments.

Theme leader

Domain leaders

Leadership team

QUT Business School

Creative Industries Faculty

Faculty of Law

Faculty of Health

Science and Engineering Faculty


Digital Brisbane 2.0

During 2017, IFE researchers worked with Brisbane’s Chief Digital Officer, Cat Matson, to create Digital Brisbane 2.0, a strategy to empower businesses and residents to thrive in a globally connected, digitally-enabled world while maintaining their humanity. In collaboration with Brisbane Marketing, QUT undertook detailed research analysing the best approaches to developing a digital strategy, in the form of an innovation sprint.

Interactive technology makes exhibition visitors marvel

In May 2017, the highly anticipated Marvel: Creating the Cinematic Universe exhibition was held exclusively at Brisbane’s QAGOMA as a fully interactive visitor experience. Showcasing more than 500 objects including costumes, sets, props, storyboards, original comics, concept art and films, this was the largest Marvel exhibition ever presented in an art museum. In the lead-up to the exhibition, IFE researchers collaborated exclusively with QAGOMA to design interactive works to give gallery visitors new kinds of novel experiences and insightful interactions with both the museum and Marvel Studio content. This project brought together expertise from across QUT in the creative industries and design, animation and visual arts, and information technology. Read more.

Proactive Government Service Delivery

This research explores innovative, credible and achievable whole of government proactive service models within a digitised economy and the environment for Queensland State Government implementation. The aim is to explore and assess the impact of the economy of citizens on the way government services are provided. In particular, this project studies how emerging digital identities reduce the latency of government services, i.e. the time between life event and service consumption.

Queensland Urban Utilities

This multi-staged project reviewed the use of digital information in current business-as-usual activities for Queensland Urban Utilities (QUU). It identified opportunities for QUU to better use its existing data for improving operational excellence and customer experience. The project continued by exploring possible new market models that take advantage of the emerging intelligence network-wide 'smartness' taking root both within QUU’s traditional assets and in other sectors to which QUU could become connected.

Partnership enquiries

Contact our leadership team about research partnership opportunities.