Major breakthrough for Hunter innovation
The partners of a unique collaboration between major education, research, business, government and community organisations in Newcastle have welcomed a funding announcement that heralds a great leap forward for the Hunter Region in the digital age.
A $9.8 million commitment from the NSW Government through the Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund (HIIF) will support the Hunter Innovation Project (HIP) - a partnership between Newcastle City Council, The University of Newcastle, Newcastle Now and Hunter DiGiT.
The HIP partners will also contribute a further $8 million to the project, which will include the installation of smart technology and Wi-Fi throughout Newcastle's CBD and the establishment of an innovation hub for researchers, industry and entrepreneurs to commercialise ideas and promote economic development.
The HIP’s ‘smart city’ infrastructure will allow businesses and local innovators to leverage the region’s strengths in advanced manufacturing, health technology, renewable energy and education, and capitalise on the connectivity, reach and scale of the rapidly growing digital and knowledge economy. It is the infrastructure component of the partners' broader ambition to generate significant new activity across the regional innovation ecosystem.
"Today's HIIF grant will support economic growth, jobs and spur innovation-led growth, and I would like to congratulate our partners on today's good news," Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.
"The Hunter Innovation Project is a collaborative effort and a key component of Council's Smart City strategy to provide physical spaces, digital connectivity and city-data to increase opportunity for entrepreneurs and businesses to thrive in the digital century.
"It will provide smart city infrastructure like Wi-Fi, smart parking and lighting, and an innovation hub where sharp thinkers can put their minds together to make our city and region a better place to live, work, visit and invest.”
For each direct job created by the HIP, five additional flow-on jobs are expected to be created throughout Newcastle and the region. Over 700 local jobs will be created as an indirect impact.
The project will deliver three key elements by early 2019:
• An Innovation Hub: a dedicated facility in the Newcastle CBD which will bring together researchers, students, developers, entrepreneurs, investors, technical specialists and business advisors. By linking with and showcasing the University of Newcastle’s existing Innovation and Entrepreneurship programs, the Innovation Hub will form part of the University’s Integrated Innovation Network (I2N) and will: facilitate the launch of spinoffs, start-ups and mature companies; attract investment and businesses to the Hunter Region; encourage innovation and commercialisation; and produce the next generation of entrepreneurs, business leaders and inventors.
• A Digital Precinct: a designated Newcastle City Centre zone with fibre-based broadband to approximately 250 properties. This concentrated capability will give the Hunter Region a key competitive advantage in attracting and retaining high-tech, digital and creative industries to stay or locate in the region.
• Smart Cities Infrastructure: The Smart Cities network involves an array of Wi-Fi linked sensors and integrated technology located initially throughout the Newcastle CBD. It will provide detailed real time data on the performance of city infrastructure, facilitating an open ended range of services and applications to improve the ease of access, efficiency and liveability of the city for residents, businesses and tourists. Through this infrastructure a new source of ‘open, big data’ will become available to start-ups, entrepreneurs, and the public to develop and test information technology products through the Innovation Hub and the wider innovation ecosystem.