Places to think, learn and make- three examples of new innovation districts being developed by universities and industry to shaping their local knowledge economies.

Unlike Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities, this practical and interactive conversation will highlight how 3 universities in 3 cities in Australia (Melbourne, Adelaide and Wollongong) are developing strategic ‘innovation districts’ with industry and their local communities to cultivate an ecosystem for innovation that will in turn tackle complex problems that matter and imagine and create new knowledge, jobs and industries for the future.

Jacyl Shaw
Carlton Connect Initiative at the University of Melbourne

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John Shi-Nash
Macquarie Park Innovation District

Kathryn Anderson
New Venture Institute, Flinders @ Tonsley

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Outcomes and impact of the case
There are many outcomes derived from strategically and intentionally cultivating an innovation ecosystem that is place based. Universities and industry collaborations:
• Drive change towards knowledge based industries
• Nurture research talent that discovers and commercializes new markets
• Facilitates opportunities for the next generation of innovation leaders with new networks and ways to navigate the chances facing nations and globally
• Provides collaborative places where ideas can be born tested and realize
• Supports emerging entrepreneurs and research professionals who want to make an impact.

In short the outcomes and impact can be summarized succinctly as:
• Place-making
• Networking
• Problem- solving
• Solution finding
• Economy – shaping
• Creating Collisions

Each of the three panelists will provide specific examples of outcomes and impact that have been derived from the development of each respective innovation district:
For example:
At Carlton Connect, its entrepreneurial community clusters around its Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP); ranked 8th best in the world. In under 4 years MPA has accelerated 24 companies with 56 founders, leveraged over $10M of funding and created over 200 jobs.

At Tonsley, the New Venture Institute provides an entry point into the intellectual horsepower and research capabilities of Flinders University. Founded less than three years ago and located at the Tonsley precinct for the last 18 months, the New Venture Institute houses an entrepreneurial incubator as well as programs designed to leverage the assets of Flinders in support of SMEs and startups, in turn, adding value to education and research. This ecosystem approach is at the core of the Tonsley Innovation Precinct and to date has seen 136 start-ups created, 252 student consulting projects and investments of more than half a million dollars fostered.

At MPID, the district is in its early growth stage, but already there are tangible benefits beginning to be realized. One of which is the recently announced Optus Macquarie University Cyber Security hub which represents a strategic co-investment of double digit millions between Optus and Macquarie university. Others include a vibrant events program, 2000 sqm incubator, hackathons with park companies and research and business collaborations between park companies in different industry verticals. By creating an ecosystem of collaboration and innovation real benefits can be created for the university, partner companies and the local community