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Verity Kingsmill

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: Verity Kingsmill, Interim Lead, New Venture Institute, Flinders University

What is Flinders New Venture Institute about?

Flinders New Venture Institute stands for innovation. It’s about creating opportunity, it’s encouraging people to think entrepreneurially, it’s teaching people entrepreneurial skills, it’s getting them to think creatively, it’s about creating pathways for people.

New Venture Institute looks at where the problems might be, individuals come with a solution and we then help them develop it. Pretty much what Tonsley is about is what the New Ventures Institute is about.

How did Flinders come to be located at Tonsley?

One of the reasons Flinders is committed to Tonsley is it believes in its vision. Flinders committed very, very early on to be one of the anchor tenants here at Tonsley particularly because we see that generation of entrepreneurs, innovators, scientists, researchers coming together with industry and that’s what happens here at Tonsley.

What is an example of one of the innovative start-ups that has come from the New Ventures Institute?

One of the case studies that is a really great example of where commercialisation comes from research is actually one of the startups here called PREPD. PREPD actually came out of some research with Flinders in the nutrition space about looking at how to increase hydration in individuals for medical purposes. That was spun out to create the company PREPD and moved from a medical product to now a sports drink that’s actually being used around the world for better hydration of athletes. It’s also being used in mining sites, and it’s being used in schools because better hydration increases concentration. It’s a great example of where research is actually commercialised.

Why does the New Ventures Institute work at Tonsley?

Why I think Flinders’ New Ventures Institute works at Tonsley is because the essence of what we are trying to do here – create collaboration – is exactly what Tonsley does.

There is this amazing collaboration that happens across Tonsley from industry, students, researchers, community. We like to create connections; we like to create capacity for people to come together to work on problems and create solutions together. Tonsley is this brilliant space, I’ve never seen it anything like it before, where people just naturally collaborate. There is no sense of individual purpose, there is a sense of common purpose across a range of industries.

How do you think South Australians should feel about Tonsley 10 years on?

I think South Australia should feel immensely proud of what’s actually been achieved here at Tonsley. There’s history here and there’s new history being made. I don’t think we realise just what an amazing space we have and how it’s regarded internationally.

What has been achieved here at Tonsley is a rare mix of success and I think everyone should be very, very proud of the history that started here in the car making stage to now this future space of work, industry and sustainability is happening in our state.


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