Tech hubs in Sydney: not just a buzzword

September 21, 2018 / By  

Some may think that the term “tech hub” has become an overused term in recent times. The truth is the New South Wales (NSW) Government and corporate Australia have taken meaningful steps to help bring this “tech hub” concept to life. One of these projects is known as the “Central to Eveleigh Urban Transformation Strategy” (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Map of the Central to Eveleigh Urban Transformation Strategy

This strategy involves redeveloping approximately 50 hectares of government owned land between the Sydney CBD’s Central Station along the rail corridor to Eveleigh, which is located 3 km south west of Central Station. One of the long term strategic goals is to create a vibrant tech precinct along this rail corridor.

Part of this tech precinct development is already underway: at the Australian Technology Park (ATP) – the purple area in Figure 1. In November 2015, Urban Growth NSW sold the ATP to a consortium of buyers including Mirvac, AMP Capital, Sunsuper and Centuria for AUD 263.0 million. At the time of this sale, it was announced that the Commonwealth Bank of Australia – the largest organisation listed on the Australian Stock Exchange – had pre-committed to a 93,000 sqm development at the ATP.

One of the requirements of the sale was to develop the ATP in the vision of the Urban Transformation Strategy. This included the redevelopment of the Locomotive Workshops (on the periphery of the ATP) into 38,500 sqm of quality Grade A flexible office space, targeted specifically at small businesses and start-ups.

At the time of the sale, Mirvac, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Centuria established a Tech Incubation Fund: a AUD 2.1 million initiative with a purpose to enable suitable small businesses and start-ups to lease space within the Locomotive Workshop on subsidised rents. The Locomotive Workshop redevelopment has an expected completion date in mid-2020.

The ATP has the benefit of not only being located in close proximity to the Sydney CBD, but also having a young and educated workforce residing in the surrounding areas. The ATP is located in between the Inner West and City of Sydney Local Government Areas (LGA).[1] Both these LGA’s have a high concentration of people aged 20-39 years old and educational attainment above the Greater Sydney average (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Demographics comparison in Sydney
Source: 2016 Australian Census, JLL Research

These positive demographics could be attractive for a number of organisations who may choose to relocate to the ATP over the medium term, in order to have access to a wider pool of knowledge workers.

Over the past month the Central to Eveleigh Urban Transformation Strategy has gathered more momentum. It was announced that Atlassian – one of Australia’s most successful tech companies, will partner with the NSW Government to help plan this future tech hub, with hopes the precinct will be home to 10,000 jobs by 2036.

[1] An LGA is a consolidation of a number of suburbs under one geographical area. It is used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics for demographics analysis.

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