This week's news of a co-initiative between the New South Wales state government and Atlassian to build a technology precinct in Sydney is welcome news for many in the start-up world.
It's especially promising for those who previously thought such a meeting of minds between state and corporate wasn't plausible. There's been a few failed attempts at kickstarting a Silicon Valley-esque hub in Australia, and finally making use of the (at times) white elephant of Australian Technology Park in Sydney seems like a sensible choice.
What can be done to make this one stick?
There's a few core elements that must be prioritised to keep this initiative on track, and much like the revamping of Australian Technology Park, it will require give and take from both government and enterprise.
1) Keep the research and development tax incentives
The R&D tax incentive is necessary to keep bolstering expenditure in new technological initiatives. Without leading edge research, Australia won't be able to create the new products, applications, and solutions to put it on the global technology stage. Any talks of reducing or taking away the tax incentives for Australian companies to conduct R&D locally are dangerous to the foundation of innovation we are trying hard to establish.
2) Take long term action to encourage STEM education
We need great minds to build great initiatives. Creative applications of science, technology, engineering and mathematics will be the tipping point to the type of innovation Australia needs to keep its tech precincts thriving well into the future. It will be the collective effort of politicians, educators, and parents to keep young people interested in these highly sought-after career paths.
3) Bridging the digital divide through accessibility
What I don't want to see happen is for the new tech precinct in Australian Technology Park to have closed doors—the type of high-pressure cooker environment bounded by exclusivity and invite-only. To truly succeed, the initiative must take pains to actively involve everyone in society, and focus on promoting age and gender diversity, education opportunities for those from varied socioeconomic backgrounds, or even hosting events with the objective of fostering an open-learning , truly collaborative space.
In the words of Albert Einstein, "you never fail until you stop trying."
Let's hope this latest idea for a local tech precinct is the try we need to get us over that hill.
The NSW government wants to create a tech precinct akin to Silicon Valley in Eveleigh, Sydney. Atlassian will assist the government to build its vision, along with Fishburners, Tech Sydney, and representatives from the University of Technology Sydney, University of Sydney and Sydney Business Chamber. The new hub, yet to be named, will be home to 10,000 new jobs by 2036.