Monday, February 18, 2013

Australian Industry Innovation Precincts Proposed

The Australian government has proposed up to ten Industry Innovation Precincts at a cost of $500M to "drive productivity, improve connections between business and the research sector and mobilise Australian industry to compete more successfully in global markets." Each precinct will have a research organization (university or CSIRO) as well as business, to foster mobility between academic institutions and businesses.

Available are:
  1. Executive Summary
  2. The full statement: "A Plan for Australian Jobs: The Australian Government's Industry and Innovation Statement
  3. Media release: "Industry Innovation Precincts to create jobs of the future", Media Release, Minister for Industry and Innovation, the Hon Greg Combet AM MP, and the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Hon Joe Ludwig, 17 Feb 2013
Many local, regional and national governments have tried to reproduce "Silicon Valley", with limited success in these Silicons. In 1996 I visited Cambridge (England) to see how the technology companies around the university developed. This became known as "Silicon Fen" through a process known as the the "Cambridge phenomenon". In "Building Arcadia" I suggested how this could be emulated in Australia, laking use of locations such as the Australian Technology Park (ATP) in Sydney. Later NICTA, was set up at the ATP to foster innovation in the ICT industry. Australian governments have so far invested $1B in NICTA at several sites across Australia.

In Canberra the "Innovation ANU" program was et up to teach university students how to turn a scientific discovery into a business. This was later was was broadened to "Innovation ACT" for students at all Canberra's universities. I suggest that program could be broadened again and delivered on-line to students at all the ten new Innovation Precincts, and elsewhere across Australia. Such a program could combine nationally delivered on-line materials with local "un-conference" events, which bring people from different fields together. A good example of an unconferecne is BarCamp Canberra, this year at the Inspire Centre, University of Canberra, 16 March (purpose built for this type of learning event). A national innovation program could offer participants a formal university qualification, counting towards a degree.

ANU Exchange at City West , CanberraThe new policy mentions CSIRO, but curiously does not mention NICTA. The investment of $50M per precinct proposed in the new government policy is minimal compared to the cost of initiatives such as NICTA and CSIRO. However, this would be useful in making linkages between research and industry, if used to accelerate already emerging precincts. An example is "City West,  with the ANU Exchange development, to the west of the Canberra CBD, where the ANU campus is blending with government and private enterprises, related to education and research.


Mathew said...

It was also tried at Mawson Lakes (formerly 'The Levels') in SA, with UniSA and the adjacent technology Park.

Tom Worthington said...

Mathew said "It was also tried at Mawson Lakes (formerly 'The Levels') in SA, with UniSA and the adjacent technology Park."

Yes, I visited SA in 1997 to look at the "Multi Function Polis" (MFP) project.

I was not very impressed and was inadvertently responsible for helping kill of the project. I bumped into a colleague in the street and expressed my views on the project. I later learned they were in Adelaide to advise the government on the future of the project.