Sunday, September 17, 2023

Tech Central Sydney Needs Old Buildings, a Good Cafe, & Course Credit for Students

In Clamperdown Park, for the
Tech Central Sydney consultation.
Tom Worthington CC-BY 2023
This is to suggest planners of the Tech Central Sydney Camperdown Node ensure there are old industrial and commercial building for startups to re-purpose at low cost, a start-up center in one of them, a good cafe, and course credit for students working on entrepreneurial projects.

I went along today to a consultation in Camperdown park, about the Camperdown Node. The collection of government lanyards, and branding, would rival an episode of ABC TV's Utopia. There was even someone from the Greater Cities Commission, successor to the Greater Sydney Commission. This is worryingly close to the "Even Greater Sydney Planning Committee", which was a comedy sketch on ABC Radio Sydney each Friday, by HG Nelson and James Valentine. 

It was a little odd having planning staff of three agencies consulting the public about a high technology precinct. There was a map showing the area, but little in the way of detail of what was proposed, so not much to be consulted on. I was asked about my views, and couldn't resist asking the staff what they would like me to tell them about how to set up a high tech hub, as I had spent a few decades looking into this.

Building Arcadia: Emulating Cambridge's High Technology Success

In my closing address as chair of the 1998 Information Industry Outlook Conference,in Canberra,  I argued that Australia should create a cultured image to market information industries. I suggested Cambridge (England) as the model, as detailed in the report The Cambridge Phenomenon. It is now possible to use Canberra as a model, with the Canberra Innovation Network (CBRIN), and a cluster of high tech companies adjacent to the Australian National University (ANU).

Old Building and Egg Rolls

I told the staff at the consultations, what was needed for an innovation precinct were old low cost industry and commercial building for startups to re-purpose. The problem for planners is how to prevent this transition zone close to the Sydney CBD being filled with retail outlets, and high rise apartments, with no place for companies, and advanced manufacturing. Also there needs to be a really good cafe for entrepreneurs to meet in. One angel investor keeps singing the praises of the egg rolls at the Australian Technology Park Cafe.

The other ingredient is a nearby university to supply people with innovative ideas. University of Sydney can provide this. One point I had to NSW, Sydney and Inner West planning staff on was not relying on graduates to provide entrepreneurs. There needs to be schemes to encourage current students, and staff to become entrepreneurs, as well as graduates. Through programs such as Techlauncher, the ANU allows studnts to work on a commercial startup at CRBIN, while a student. The students can get course credit for working on their own, or someone else's  startup. 

Innovating for Health at Your Fingertips

Oximeter from RPA in Use, 
Tom Worthington CC-BY 2022
The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital is located between the Sydney University campus and Clamperdown, making bio technology an obvious focus for the area. However, tech is tech, so there is no need to have particular policies, or restrictions on the area. Sydney's inner west has hosted diverse startups, including submarines and military drone builders. Developments don't need to be particularly tech intensive. As an example, I contracted COVID-19, and thus became a patient of RPA Virtual. After registering my location with NSW Health, I was contacted by a nurse at RPA, who took my details, and sent out an Oximeter. There is potential for companies offering more advanced forms of tele-medicine, to improve care, and lower costs.


Building Arcadia: Emulating Cambridge's High Technology Success, closing address to the ACS 1998 Information Industry Outlook Conference, Canberra,  7 November 1998

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