Macquarie University is building a huge innovation hub with Australia's biggest corporates

An artist’s impression of the redeveloped Macquarie Park precinct. Source: Planning NSW

Macquarie University is teaming up with some of the biggest names in business, including Optus, Johnson & Johnson, Abbott Global, KonicaMinolta, NAB and AMP Capital, as part of an innovation district in Sydney’s northwest, 30 minutes from the city’s CBD.

The Macquarie Park Innovation District (MPID) will include the existing 180 multinational companies, 200 SMEs, teaching hospital, and university already on 350 hectare site, which already employs 45,000 people alongside 40,000 students. The area already produces nearly $10 billion in GDP annually. The university will go looking for businesses it can collaborate with as part of the development and will develop a startup incubator to lure entrepreneurs to the area.

The site, already Sydney’s second largest business district has a focus on telecommunications, technology, pharmaceutical and electronics, with Microsoft, Oracle, Sony, Canon, Foxtel, the CSIRO, Orix and Goodman-Fielder among existing the tenants.

In May, Macquarie University (MU) announced plans for two new office buildings, worth $200 million, as part of the university’s increased commercial partner collaborations on the 126 hectare campus.

The campus is already home to Cochlear, the Australian Hearing Hub and 20 other businesses.

An artists impression of the business innovation centre. Source: Macquarie University

The NSW Government has given MU a $1 million grant for a business innovation centre targeting entrepreneurs and start-ups, SMEs and government agencies. A pop up version will launch on campus next month ahead of a 1,500 square metre, purpose-built centre opening in April 2017.

The university sees the centre as the first major step towards establishing the MPID, which will target health and pharmaceuticals, bio- and digital tech as well as business and commerce.

The MPID proposal sites alongside the NSW government’s announcement last year to redevelop Macquarie Park’s existing public housing in a precinct with 5,800 new homes by 2031. Between the state and university proposals, Macquarie Park will double in size over the next 20 years to become Australia’s fourth largest CBD.

Deputy vice-chancellor Professor David Wilkinson, says the scale and diversity of the concept is unparalleled in Australia and takes its inspiration from the likes of Imperial College London and the Cortex Innovation District, St Louis.

“The University and key Macquarie Park businesses realise the real, unmet potential of the area to become one of Australia’s foremost innovation centres,” he said.

“With so much talent clustered together in one area it made perfect sense to come together to help drive the vitality of the district and harness new ideas.

“Ultimately for us, it’s about making the district a great place to not only work and innovate, but also to live and learn. We plan to invest heavily in infrastructure, innovation programs and incubation over the next five years.”

Optus Business managing director John Paitaridis said it was critical for the corporate, education and government sectors to collaborate and engage on the development of technology.

Among the future developments on the site, Paitaridis sees potential for a driverless shuttle-bus service, SMART cafes, hackathons and partnerships with international innovation districts.

“From a technology focus, Cyber Security, the Internet of Things and Smart Cities are also a priority,” he said.

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