Universities are often the catalyst for innovation hubs globally, says JLL’s head of strategic consulting in Victoria, David Brown.
“Entrepreneurs, researchers, students and established professionals mingle and collaborate in lively districts with eclectic restaurants, office buildings, research facilities, housing and shops,” Brown says.
Success starts with a clear vision, the report recommends. JLL points to Charter Hall’s collaboration with Western Sydney University and the University of NSW as an example. This $300 million engineering innovation hub in the heart of Parramatta promises to spur economic development locally and become a buzzing ecosystem of employers, researchers and innovators.
“The larger picture is particularly important when you are competing with other institutions and amenity rich locations in and around your site,” Brown explains.
“While it’s important to start with a vision and master plan, it’s equally important to remain open to change,” Brown adds, emphasising the importance of designing flexible spaces that can adapt over time.
Another recommendation is to carefully curate the tenant mix. Melbourne Connect, the University of Melbourne’s purpose-built innovation precinct, was developed in partnership with a consortium led by Lendlease. This brings together not only world-leading researchers and students, but industry, government, startups and artists.
Melbourne Connect’s 3,600 sqm Superfloor is a generous meeting and event space designed to give partners an immersive environment to explore new ideas, showcase their work and collaborate, while the new state-of-the-art Telstra Creator Space will give students, start-ups and industry access to a world-leading fabrication and prototyping laboratory.
“Design is a critical factor for innovation precincts, yet it’s just as critical to align diverse stakeholders around a common vision,” says Dinesh Acharya, JLL’s education solutions lead for consulting.
Acharya says identifying the right partners “requires a multi-disciplinary and curated leasing strategy to understand industry drivers, assess different stakeholder needs and define what the shared business benefit of collocation might be”.
Download JLL’s report, 10 steps for a successful university innovation centre.