Wednesday, November 12, 2014

New Innovation Space Opens In Canberra's Innovation Precinct

Yesterday I dropped in to see the CBR Innovation Network's new offices in Canberra, at Level 5, 1 Moore Street in Civic. This is on the side of the Canberra CBD adjacent to the Australian National University campus and provides a consolidated place for Canberra's innovation initiatives.

In recent years the area adjacent to ANU has seen small IT startups and private education providers move in between the cafes, bars and theaters. Entry 29's provided co-working space (a desk, or a few desks) for micro-businesses with ambitions, in a former building site office. Entry 29 has now moved into the new offices at 1 Moore Street, joining the Griffin Accelerator program and an incubator managed by ATP Innovations.

The new offices only opened last week and are still being set up. Such innovation spaces are traditionally in re-purposed buildings. Fishburners in Sydney is in a colonial era warehouse (with massive timber beams on the ceiling) and Spacecubed in Perth an old bank (with a meeting room in the vault). But CBR Innovation is on the top floor of the old ACT Health building opposite the Canberra Post Office (walk in the wrong door on the ground floor and you would think you are in a hospital).

The new offices are already well equipped, but there are plans to expand to add space for start-up business which have expanded past the micro-business stage and need their own partitioned area, not in the co-working space. This will take some careful design, to provide separation, nut not wall this area off completely from the open areas. The innovation space I saw at the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology  (Colombo) were a little too isolated.

ATP Innovations are better known for their work at the Australian Technology Park (ATP) in Sydney. In 1998 I suggested Canberra should emulate Cambridge's high technology success and pointed out ATP as a model.

Innovation ACT is holding a IACT Canberra Innovation Network Workshop at the new offices on 22 November 2014. Innovation ACT is an annual conference sponsored by the ACT Government for students of Canberra's higher education institutions (with about $70,000 in prizes). ANU students can now enroll for credit in my special topic for 2015 "Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship in Technology", to earn credit while participating in the competition.

No comments: