Aug 2017 Herald Sun
Melbourne is set to get an urban innovation district to rival Silicon Valley. City Council, RMIT University and Melbourne University are joining forces to form the new precinct north of the CBD.
It will have hi-tech sensors measuring public transport, cyclist, cars and pedestrians, as well as Wi-Fi, “smart” LED lighting and upgraded public spaces. It follows a worldwide trend with similar districts in Chicago, Barcelona, Boston and Shanghai. Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said the precinct would “harness the power of our universities and start-ups. We know that jobs are being generated there, we know that the universities are attracting the talent we want. This district is home to the cochlear implant, it is within a hair’s breadth of developing the first bionic eye and the bionic spine was developed out of the Royal Melbourne Hospital, University of Melbourne and the Florey Institute. It is time to give this district some structure and focus and highlight it as Melbourne becomes a city of innovation.”
The district is home to almost a quarter of Melbourne’s knowledge sector jobs. It covers the universities, state library, Queen Victoria Market and the Melbourne Museum. It is also home to a hi-tech lab that is “building body parts”. BioFab3D, funded by Melbourne, RMIT, Swinburne and Wollongong universities and St Vincent’s Hospital, is pioneering re-engineered muscles, tissues and nerves. “A lot of the news around the world about 3D printing — a 3D printed rib cage or skull implant — are designed and printed here in Melbourne,” centre manager Dr Cathal O’Connell said.
“These challenges are so complex that the only way to make rapid progress is to have collaboration between different industries. We have biologists, surgeons and engineers all working on the same projects. This precinct is what the community needs and we can look forward to a future of incredible inventions.”