The City of Melbourne is investigating the potential viability and benefits of creating an innovation hub within the Melbourne Innovation District (MID) City North.
It would be a public facility, open to the entire community throughout the week, with the potential for extended hours to suit a wider range of community needs. It would aim to attract a wide range of people and organisations who seek an environment to collaborate, learn, grow, mentor and connect.
An innovation hub is a public, accessible, and affordable space for co-working, conferences, programs, mentorship, incubators, community engagement and social interaction.
Such a facility could act as a launching pad for startups, scale ups and other small businesses or social enterprises. It could provide access to resources, assistance and a range of working spaces.
The City of Melbourne Startup Action Plan (2017-21) contains an action to support greater access to affordable and new forms of meeting and working spaces, labs, shop fronts, and open spaces for startups. These could be Council or private sector owned.
The facility could potentially provide:
- affordable working spaces for startups
- public programming, events and workshop spaces
- facilities and services to support innovation activities and community uses.
Throughout May 2020 we asked the community and key stakeholders for feedback to better understand what City North might need from an innovation hub.
We are working with Echelon Planning to find out:
- What programming, events, activities and spaces already exist within MID City North.
- What the MID City North community might need from an innovation hub space or function.
- What role, if any, the City of Melbourne might play in providing these spaces or activities if necessary.
Examples of innovation hub models
Low intervention strategy
Programming existing spaces
Using existing buildings and spaces within MID for affordable workspace and innovation activities work, or establishing temporary pop-up spaces.
Medium intervention strategy
Creating a temporary facility
This could be done within an existing building in partnership tertiary institutions, developers or other anchor institution in the district.
High intervention strategy
Creating a permanent facility
Partnering with others to create a permanent purpose built facility within the district.
Hobsons Bay City Council and Western BACE are currently piloting a pop-up work space in Laverton, featuring masterclasses, co-working spaces and networking opportunities.
The initial pilot comprises a week of activities including one-on-one mentoring sessions, lunch and learn activities, and social activities for startups and small businesses in Melbourne’s west.
The Canberra Innovation Centre operates as a not-for-profit co-working space, accelerator, and innovation focused education hub. Focusing on small to medium size enterprises, the hub was created in 2014 under a collaboration between local government, Australian National University, University of Canberra, and CSIRO.
It is based on the first floor of an existing building and It houses and collaborates with a range of programs including a startup accelerator, incubator and collaborative innovation labs. To date it has had more than 45,000 visitors and has helped over 1,000 budding entrepreneurs and SMEs through its lean innovation focused education.
The District Innovation Hall in Boston is the first of its kind, and is seen as the one of most successful model of public innovation centres across the globe.
The District Hall is a purpose built facility and it has become the centerpiece of the Boston Innovation district. It hosts 1000+ events and meetings per year, and it provides in the order of $1 million in free and discounted space to entrepreneurs and social impact organisations every year.
The vision for the District Hall is for it to be a ‘living room’ for the district for entrepreneurs and community members alike = a space that is flexible, affordable and accessible.