Creating a University City of the Future: merging innovation with economic and employment growth through well designed development precincts.

Alison Angleton
La Trobe University

Founded in 1965, La Trobe University is one of Australia’s leading educational institutions. La Trobe has a deep commitment to progressive social values and a proud history of making a difference to the communities it serves. As Victoria’s third University, La Trobe’s Melbourne campus comprises landholdings of approximately 235 hectares making it comparable in size to the Melbourne CBD. La Trobe’s recent launch of the University City of the Future plan will see the campus become the centre of an innovation ecosystem that will blend economic, physical, environmental and social networking assets.

The initiative will deliver AUS$5 billion in investment, 20,000 new jobs and AUS$3.5 billion in Gross Regional Product (GRP) over the next ten years. We will leverage our research excellence to solve problems for business, create jobs within our communities and create educational opportunities for the future workforce. “We are turning our campus ‘inside out’, welcoming our local communities to new and dynamic spaces, where community, industry, students and staff will work, live and learn.”
Situated in a rapidly growing corridor in Melbourne’s North, La Trobe’s University City of the Future is merging innovation with economic and employment growth through well designed and carefully considered research, commercial, sporting and residential development precincts. La Trobe has a diverse and multi-cultural student population with the highest rate in Victoria of enrolments for students who are first in family to attend university. The precinct developments will position the University as an innovation anchor in Melbourne and further enable La Trobe’s commitment to creating inclusive, diverse and welcoming environments that provide educational and employment opportunities for surrounding communities.
Our approach will transform La Trobe creating a unique nexus for innovation that will deliver research impact and see value derived to multiple stakeholders. This is being achieved by matching the University’s research and innovation capability to industry challenges as well as government priorities such as the National Employment and Innovation Clusters (NEICs). By attracting anchor institutions within the precincts La Trobe is already facilitating the creation and commercialisation of new ideas. We are also building pathways that promote entrepreneurship in our staff and students providing collaboration space, an accelerator program and investment fund that not only generate new ideas but bring them to market.
The objective of this presentation is to provide an overview of the model being implemented by La Trobe to create a thriving and dynamic University City underpinned by a number of distinct development precincts. Among these distinct areas will be a Research and Innovation precinct focusing on: agriculture, food and fibre; health and wellbeing; and underpinned by digital technologies and cybersecurity.
There has been significant investment in infrastructure across the University over the past 5-7 years to ensure we have world-class facilities. This includes: a new Centre for Agribioscience; a new La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science; the establishment of The La Trobe Institute for Agriculture and Food; a contemporary new building for the La Trobe Business School; the establishment of a Strategic Investment Fund; a joint venture with RMIT University to establish the Future of Food Institute; and an extensive network of hospital partners including the Olivia Newton John Cancer Research Institute.
Discussion will focus on our approach to planning the built environment and the importance of space and place while simultaneously attracting businesses to the precincts for research collaboration and knowledge exchange/translation. We will outline the successful outcomes to date for industry partners, students and staff as well as outline the next stage of planning.
The presentation will also outline activities that are attracting private investment into seven distinct development sub-precincts:
• A world-class research and innovation Precinct, leveraging La Trobe’s research and innovation strengths in Agriculture, Food and Fibre, Health and Wellbeing and Digital Technologies and Cybersecurity;
• Delivering an expanded private hospital as the first stage of a major new Health and Wellbeing Hub, which will include aged care, childcare and super-clinic facilities;
• Delivering first-class education facilities for more than 40,000 university students;
• Providing new residential accommodation for 12,000 residents, including staff and students
• Developing a new city centre with a suitable mix of commercial, retail and cultural facilities;
• Finalising the third stage of La Trobe’s $150 million Sports Park, which uniquely combines elite sport and community participation (10,000 community visitors each weekend) with sector-leading research and teaching; and
• Maintaining and improving access the University’s eco-corridor for all to enjoy (the eco-corridor is approximately 30 hectares comprised of a network of open spaces that is a highly valued biodiversity, water and recreation resource for both the University and the region).