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Julianne Parkinson

For more than 10 years, Tonsley Innovation District has been a leader in innovation for South Australia. To mark Tonsley’s first decade of success, Renewal SA sat down with some of the District’s greatest champions, those who have actively contributed to its collaborative ecosystem and influenced the exemplar incubator it has become. 

Full interview: Julianne Parkinson CEO, Global Centre for Modern Ageing

What does the Global Centre for Modern Ageing do?

The Global Centre for Modern Ageing appreciates that while people are living longer, they’re not necessarily living better. There are not enough products and services being created that truly understand the unmet needs, wants and the aspirations of people to live their best life through the second half of life.

We have built an internationally accredited living laboratory here called the Life Lab. Along with a suite of methodologies, it allows us to work alongside entrepreneurs, product developers, governments, citizens and research partners to unlock the unmet needs and deliver meaningful fit for purpose products and services that truly meet the needs of adults as we age.

What inspired you to be located at Tonsley?

We knew that South Australia was a great birthplace for this organisation because South Australia has supported the aging well industry initiative from government, to enterprise, to citizens and research partners. We felt that South Australia had the leadership to make this happen.

Through our international research we identified that for a living lab to prosper well it was best placed in a vibrant and meaningful ecosystem. Tonsley spoke in volumes to that aspiration and to the practicalities that it had when we were on the search in 2017. We commenced our planning, built what is now a world-class living lab and opened our doors in October 2018.

What makes Tonsley standout?

What I enjoy about our business being located at Tonsley is the workplace enjoyment that it provides for our team. Our team is at the centre of everything that we do here, therefore culture and their enjoyment matters a lot. The facilities and the amenities that are based here allow them to come together as individuals and as an innovative team to do great work. Tonsley helps to provide that by the way it fosters relationships and friendships.

Innovation precincts usually suggests youth, universities and technical colleges, yet your organisation is dedicated to 65s and over. How does it fit so well into Tonsley?

The Global Centre for Modern Ageing appreciates that the market that we are operating in is not the market that many people assume that it is. There is a connotation that is based on ageism that anything with older adults involved is traditional but that is not the case.

What we have right now is a new and emerging sector that has never been realised before. The need for industry to understand the longevity economy and the way in which they can tap into the needs and wants of those people to create companies that will last for decades to come cannot be underestimated.

This is a global market that exists and the work that is carried out here, which is technology-enabled improvements to products, is as important as Agritech was, as FinTech has been. We believe that age tech will be the next biggest thing that improves not just the lives and the economic and social prosperity of Australia, but indeed almost every nation and around the globe.

How would you describe Tonsley in one word?

If I had to describe Tonsley in one word, it would be global. The companies that locate here are focused on global demand and global opportunity and seek to understand how Australia can play its rightful role in being market leaders in those areas.


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