Posted: 31 May 2019

Tonsley Innovation District Director Philipp Dautel, gave a keynote speech at the Smart Precincts and Innovation Hubs conference in Sydney today.

He spoke about the strategies the Tonsley team have used to foster innovation and commercialisation within a melting pot of industry, training and research, creating an ecosystem where world class ideas are put through their paces and brought into being.

From the ‘demise of traditional manufacturing’ to the ‘rise of innovation’

South Australia is no stranger to firsts, but the birth of Tonsley well and truly put it on the Australian map in terms of cross cycle and cross sector innovation.

With the closure of the Mitsubishi car manufacturing plant in 2008, there was an opportunity to create a place that brought together various business, science and education, as well as the wider community to connect, collaborate, and innovate together, rather than rely upon the one, large employer filling the space.

“With product and service life cycles becoming shorter and shorter you have to collaborate and have to have an open mind with your research & development, and this is why Tonsley was created.”

But a district such as this doesn’t just appear.  Philipp explored how the Tonsley stakeholder engagement framework that was created to overcome the key challenges through the process, to curate and facilitate, as well as to integrate world class technology into the precinct.

Precincts – a people business

At the core of Tonsley is people.

The site is currently home to some 1,700 employees, working across co-working spaces, smaller and larger tenancies under the Main Assembly Building (MAB), or larger developments such as Siemens or Flinders University.  Add to that some 8,000 students going through the site each year within TAFE SA and Flinders University, and there are a lot of people within the district.

However just putting people in the same space doesn’t create a community.  Philipp explained the importance of creating a healthy community that encourages interaction, collaboration, and opportunities to work together, referring to Tonsley as a “collision space” where people can come together.

Tonsley Connections Event

3 key take-aways

To summarise Philipp’s key points, he gave 3 key take-aways to the conference attendees on Smart Precincts & Innovation Hubs, based on the Tonsley Innovation District model:

  1. Innovation Districts are a proven example of working, living and playing in the future. We should embrace them and seek to create more.
  2. Collaboration is the unique selling proposition of all innovation districts.
  3. Everything you do should be aimed at supporting a resilient and sustainable, future-proof economy, backed by a workforce that is highly skilled and productive.