Making Melbourne University one of the top five educational institutions in the world was a key proposal to come out of a recent forum to develop strategies for Victoria's continued growth and stability.

Co-hosted by Advance and the Victorian Government, participants in the inaugural Global Victorians’ Symposium, held in Melbourne on December 19, 2008, also put forward the idea of positioning Melbourne as a globally recognised world leader in ideas and innovation via a major global prize (initially focused on bio-tech). Other key ideas to emerge from the forum included establishing Melbourne as the centre for ethical food and drink, and developing a major stem cell think-tank in Melbourne, charged with seeing major research from conceptualisation through to commercialisation and global integration.
 
Bringing together over 56 leading Victorian expatriates, repatriates and Victorian Government representatives, the event was the first of its kind for an Australian State Government. The Symposium provided a platform for participants to discuss and develop fresh ideas that could be reviewed by Government and Victorians overseas in the coming years, as Advance, Invest Victoria and Victorians Abroad continue to position Victoria in the international economy.
 
"The State Government of Victoria was early to recognise the importance of connecting with Victorians developing their careers overseas," said Serafina Maiorano, CEO of Advance. "Victorian expatriates are not only gaining valuable skills and experiences, but are also ideally placed to act as ambassadors for the State. Advance is pleased to be working with these global Victorians to assist with the State’s diplomatic, cultural, investment, innovation, tourism and trade objectives."
 

With participants representing a range of fields - business, finance, science and technology, sustainable development, education, research and the arts – the Global Victorians’ Symposium provided a variety of useful perspectives on key topics for Victoria.

The Symposium was opened with an address by Victorian Premier John Brumby and featured a compelling keynote speech from Robert Thomson, Managing Editor of The Wall Street Journal, who talked about the risks and opportunities for Victoria from a global financial perspective.

A series of highly informative panel discussions were moderated by Advance board member Rosalind Coffey, who is Director, Human Resources, at Barclays Capital. Steve Gregg, Expert Principal, McKinsey & Co, discussed how and why Victoria should consider making the State a financial services hub; Dr John White, Executive Director, Ignite Energy Resources, talked about repositioning Victoria’s energy sector and Tony Surtees, CEO, iPrime and Advance Global Advisory Board Member, discussed developing Victoria’s social capital.    

Attendees of the Global Victorians’ Symposium broke into four small working groups to identify and discuss ideas that would position Melbourne for future growth and improve Victoria’s global standing. The leading ideas from each group were later presented to all Symposium attendees, including Premier John Brumby.

The four ideas presented included: Making Melbourne University one of the top five educational institutions in the world; positioning Melbourne as a globally recognized, world leader in ideas and innovation via a major global prize (initially focused on bio-tech); establishing Melbourne as the centre for ethical food and drink; and developing a major stem cell think-tank in Melbourne, charged with seeing major research from conceptualization through to commercialization and global integration.

"We commend the Premier and his team for their vision in supporting this important event, the first of its kind in Australia," said Serafina Maiorano, CEO, Advance. "By attending the event, participants affirmed their strong affection for Victoria and their ongoing interest in contributing to the future of the State."

Building on the success of the Victorians Abroad program, which is run in partnership with Advance, the Global Victorians Symposium continued to foster the Victorian Government’s relationship with leading expatriates and their international networks.

A final report will be distributed to invitees and attendees, as well as the broader Advance global network.