The Australian | 18 February 2013
The Commonwealth government’s plan to develop innovation precincts is a great idea but whether it will work is a mystery, says one of Australia’s foremost innovation authorities, Terry Cutler (he chaired the government’s review of innovation in 2008). Cutler said the initiative is great in theory, but it’s a strategy without an implementation plan.
I’ve been doing research into such precincts for about five years. I’m a big fan of them. “But there is no evidence anywhere that can tell us which ones work and why. We just don’t know.
He pointed out that precincts such as Silicon Valley and Parkville had grown “organically and over time”.
Jim McCluskey, deputy vice-chancellor (research) at the University of Melbourne, agreed the precinct idea is exciting, but “they needed to be constructed very carefully”.
Co-location alone is not enough. The governance model has to be right, the glue funding that draws people together has to be enough and the choice of location is critical. We’ve seen a lot of technology parks around the world have failed because they’ve been set up on the outskirts of towns in sterile environments where the coffee is lukewarm and milky. And they don’t work.