In June 2020, AIBE collaborated with UQ Business, IT and civil engineering researchers, and international research organisation GRONEN to deliver two sessions in virtual reality at a conference for business and management academics.

The conference series was conducted as a study to investigate the potential for virtual reality in creating more sustainable conferences worldwide. 

GRONEN's innovative approach to virtual conferencing, including the Virtual Reality study, was recently featured in an article in leading scientific journal Nature. The contribution of the research team to help develop the future of sustainable virtual events and conferences is clear, with the GRONEN conference organiser Smart City Innovation Lab developing their own virtual conference platform iChair.

iChair has been used by more than 50 conferences to date and the concept and capabilities developed for the UQ / GRONEN Virtual Reality conference has led to the world’s first VR Fashion Summit as featured in Forbes. As part of Paris Fashion Week 2020, the Grand Palais will enter Virtual Reality to host the VR Circular Fashion Summit 2020.

The two sessions were presented at the Sustainability in the Digital Age GRONEN2020 Conference and included a professional development workshop (PDW) and a social event providing a unique social interaction experience for conference attendees.

As part of the conference project, researchers modelled the University’s first virtual reality world off the UQ Global Change Institute building. This provided the opportunity for people around the world to engage with each other in a world where the limits of reality don’t exist. The research team and GRONEN will continue to explore opportunities for academics to reduce their carbon footprints and reimagine the way they work through immersive reality technologies.

Social interactions in virtual reality, particularly if you are in a VR headset are completely different from interactions on other virtual platforms such as webinars. Alex Smith, AIBE researcher.

The professional development workshop session asked the corporate sustainability scholars to use their experience in the virtual reality world to explore how we can embrace emerging technology, particularly immersive reality to reimagine academic work and impact. In addition to virtual reality, other immersive reality technologies also offer significant opportunities for research and teaching which UQ is already using in a variety of applications. Dr Jurij Karlovšek, UQ School of Civil Engineering.

AIBE was honoured to have the PDW session opened by Professor J. Alberto Aragon-Correa, who agrees with the potential for emerging technology to allow academics to reduce their impact on the environment from traveling to conferences. The virtual reality sessions were attended by a range of researchers including Masters and PhD students, post-docs and eminent professors.

Project members

UQ Research Team


Dr Cristyn Meath
Research Program Leader - Sustainability & Research Fellow, AIBE
Lecturer, UQ Business School


Alexander Smith
Principal Research Officer, AIBE


Dr Jurij Karlovsek
School of Civil Engineering


Associate Professor Stephen Viller
School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering


Dr Mashhuda Glencross
Senior Lecturer in Computer Science

Catolica Lisbon


Dr Christina Bidmon
Smart City Innovation Lab Católica-Lisbon


Associate Professor René Bohnsack
Smart City Innovation Lab Católica-Lisbon

World Builder

Luke Bubb