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Tonsley Innovation District in Adelaide

Tonsley Innovation District in Adelaide

14/3/2017 - Guest Blogger, Jed Gunn Project Manager Renewal SA

Bringing together leading edge research and education institutions, established businesses, start-ups and the community to collaborate within an innovation precinct.

The vision for Tonsley's Innovation District is to be a place that creates high value jobs by collocating world class research and education institutions and a related variety of innovative businesses alongside vibrant, modern residential living and retail space.

The origins of Tonsley Innovation District

When Mitsubishi ceased production in Adelaide in 2008, there was a clear imperative for the South Australian Government to do something innovative and internationally significant at a site described as a ‘once in a lifetime' land development opportunity.

There was also a realisation that any redevelopment could not be a traditional science or office park. In an era where connectedness is paramount to drive innovation and entrepreneurship, the siloed science park seems outdated. A visionary approach was required to address the major impact Mitsubishi's closure would have on Southern Adelaide's economy.

There was a need for the response to Mitsubishi's closure to be transformative; to help industry, particularly manufacturing, change and move to higher value products. Manufacturing is considered an essential element in a resilient and prosperous South Australian economy. This need of renewal and growth was the origin of the Tonsley Innovation District.

Tonsley's design and early development

What was initially described as developing Tonsley's soft as well as hard infrastructure, incorporates bringing research and industry together; encouraging business-to-business collaboration; clustering activity from businesses with a shared industry focus in fields where South Australia has a comparative advantage; and creating an environment that supports entrepreneurial activity and a culture of innovation. This is why Tonsley has been designed as a mixed-use precinct that incorporates high density residential, retail, education, commercial and industrial land uses.

Since the implementation in March 2012 of the 20-year redevelopment project, it is evident that the vision for Tonsley is being delivered both from an urban renewal and economic development point of view.

High quality, mixed use, urban redevelopment is well progressed with the centrepiece of Tonsley, the Main Assembly Building's large roof structure, refurbished, retail outlets operating, a residential development partnership confirmed and trunk infrastructure in place.

When the Main Assembly Building opened in 2014, it was the first time the 61 hectare site had been open to the public for nearly 60 years. Tonsley's redevelopment incorporates plenty of parks and green, public open space that will provide important pedestrian and cycling linkages to regional recreational and community facilities.

Tonsley also includes 11 hectares of residential development. This development will see approximately 850 dwellings build over a seven year timeframe starting in 2018 that will house around 1,200 people.

Having a residential population will increase the activation of the site, with people using the public spaces and retail and catering businesses after hours and on weekends. This in turn will mean that business users have a greater variety of retail and other services, such as child care, conveniently available on site during the week.

There is also an intention to include innovation through the residential development happening on the site. For example one of Tonsley's industrial focus areas is in the commercialisation and manufacture of medical and assistive devices. This could potentially including things like mobility aids and "e-health" innovations in domestic settings to support ageing in place. Tonsley is engaged in discussions to develop a demonstration project for ageing in place technology.

With Flinders University, a tertiary education and research institution, and TAFE SA, a vocational skills training institution, both established on site, there are numerous opportunities of collaboration with industry.

In addition to that, Tonsley's co-working spaces and associated business incubation and acceleration programmes all contribute to creating an entrepreneurial environment and culture of innovation.

Tonsley's design excellence has been acknowledged with a series of development industry awards, including international acclaim, winning the 2015 World Architecture News Award for Adaptive Reuse. Furthermore, Tonsley has been awarded a Six-Star Green Star - Communities accreditation by the Green Building Council of Australia and represents the highest level of leadership and innovation in high quality, sustainable urban renewal.

Tonsley's vision as economic growth engine

Over the coming years, Tonsley intends to become firmly established as an economic growth engine for South Australia as the precinct reaches a critical mass of industry, research, education and commercial activity collocated on the site.

The residential population on site will expand towards the ultimate target of 1,200 people to create a vibrant community that supports innovation and entrepreneurship. Also, a smart grid energy system will be established that incorporates onsite renewable energy generation, storage, distribution management and supply to site occupants.

Ultimately, the Government of South Australia intends to sell of all of its property assets at Tonsley. At the completion of the project delivery phase, the intention is to leave behind a self-sustaining precinct governance model that will have ongoing responsibility for maintaining Tonsley's culture of innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurial activity.

For more information and to keep up with the latest news about Tonsley Innovation District, visit the website at https://tonsley.com.au/

Come along and see for yourself

Would you like to see for yourself what's happening? The team at Tonsley Innovation District has kindly arranged a walking tour for COTA SA Members and Supporters on Monday April 10th, beginning at 10am and concluding at 11am. This tour will give you an overview of the district. While it will be a slow walk and talk, participants will be on their feet for the duration of the tour (approx. 1 hour) so please only RSVP if you're comfortable walking for an hour without a seat.

RSVP Essential, attendance is free but spaces are strictly limited so please register your attendance with COTA SA reception on 08 8232 0422 or cotasa@cotasa.org.au

Participants are asked to meet at the statue of Matthew Flinders located in the town square area of the MAB. Enter the MAB from the Flinders University building (Northern) end (MAB Gate 1 from South Rd side or MAB Gate 8 from Alawoona Ave side). There is a statue of Matthew Flinders in the town square area identified as #10 on the site map (https://tonsley.com.au/content/uploads/2016/10/Tonsley-Site-Map-0ct2016.pdf ). The site map also indicates parking areas available from either South Rd or Alawoona Ave entries, however Tonsley visitors travelling from the City are encouraged to consider catching the Tonsley train from the Adelaide Railway Station on North Terrace, alighting at the Clovelly Park station.