The neighbourhood approach of developing Lot Fourteen as a place that welcomes everyone, and its unique location, are giving it the edge when competing with other innovation precincts from around the world.
That’s the outlook from State Project Lead for Lot Fourteen, Di Dixon, of the Department of Premier and Cabinet. Di was recently recruited from Queensland based on two decades of experience in overseeing the development of infrastructure, innovation and mixed-use developments in the United Kingdom and Australia.
Most recently, she was Project Director of the Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct, a 200-hectare precinct for high-tech and health and medical industry development and research that is home to Griffith University, a university teaching hospital, a private hospital and associated businesses and research organisations.
Di says the vision to create Lot Fourteen as a neighbourhood that encompasses business, research, education, culture, wellbeing and entertainment means it will offer a range of entry points for South Australians – and visitors – from all walks of life.
“The commercial, research and community elements are being interwoven here – that’s the real point of difference,” Di says.
“For example, the ground floor of the recently refurbished Allied Health Building on North Terrace is open to the community as an event and engagement space and the surrounding landscaping now in progress on North Terrace will open up the whole neighbourhood, plus there will be a range of activities and programs for people to get involved in.
“Lot Fourteen is right next door to the beautiful Adelaide Botanic Garden and it’s going to have the Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre, the International Centre for Food, Hospitality and Tourism Studies, all layered over the top of the business, commercial and research activity, which are building the economic future of the state.
“The juxtaposition of high-tech industries working from heritage buildings with lots of character is another unique feature of Lot Fourteen. The whole place is going to be a very attractive destination in its own right, beyond its economic value.
“This means that all South Australians, and the visitors who come to the neighbourhood, can become ambassadors for Lot Fourteen.
“For example, the Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre will expose it to international visitors as a new destination alongside world class cultural offerings already here. These visitors may be business people, investors or academics in their home countries and identify commercial links for the future.
“Lot Fourteen will put people from very different backgrounds together through layers of infrastructure, curated programming, activities and attractive public realm. It’s going to be very open and engaging to attract the community to come in and get involved.”
Di says Lot Fourteen’s location in the Adelaide CBD, and the fact that the public realm design will embed it into the commercial, cultural and tourism precinct of the East End and North Terrace, is another unique selling point.
“Many of the other innovation precincts I have seen around the world are often located in isolation, but Lot Fourteen is right in the heart of Adelaide’s commercial, cultural and tourism activity and this is something I have not come across anywhere else,” she says.
“Lots of innovation precincts are on the periphery of cities and not necessarily where the action is.”
Di says she has also been impressed with the speed at which Lot Fourteen is being developed, while still remaining committed to its vision as a precinct which leverages South Australia’s authentic strengths to foster innovation and create business and career opportunities in defence and space, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and creative industries.
“Projects of this type can take decades of planning before the project gets going on the ground,” she said.
“I have never seen anything grow so quickly, but in a strategically planned way.
“Two years ago, we had a fully functional hospital on this site. Now, we have got 17 businesses and 285 ongoing employees, we are on track to achieve a population of 700 by the end of the year, and most of our available commercial accommodation is fully committed, and this is just the start” Di says.
“The start-up hub, operated by Stone and Chalk, has opened in the Allied Health Building and has 200 workspaces for start-ups. The new Australian Space Agency will move in at the end of the year then next year, the Space Discovery Centre, Mission Control Centre and SmartSat CRC will move in, along with the new Australian Cyber Security Collaboration Centre, and the University of Adelaide’s Australian Institute of Machine Learning with its foundation partner, Lockheed Martin.
“We have got significant infrastructure here and new businesses that are growing. A great example of that is Myriota, which was a spin out of a University of Adelaide venture that pioneered Internet of Things connectivity with nanosatellites,” Di says.
“Myriota has already grown since setting up at Lot Fourteen last year. Now it’s recruiting more people and offering a graduate program across a range of disciplines, which is exactly what we want to see in terms of driving opportunities for coming generations.”
Di says innovation neighbourhoods and precincts must stay true to a long-term strategy of being a two-way exchange, with research and academia coming up with effective solutions for business, and businesses driving areas of research for academia and working with them.
“The strengths of our universities on the global stage are where we should focus on attracting related business and research investment to enable start up growth, workforce skill development and job creation opportunities for a sustainable region,” she said.
This approach will be exemplified by an organisation due to move into Lot Fourteen, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Big Data Living Lab, which will utilise massive databases and artificial intelligence to solve real world problems for government, businesses and the community.
Di paid tribute to Premier Steven Marshall and his cabinet ministers for consistently promoting Lot Fourteen and involving multiple levels of government, experienced business people including the Entrepreneurship Advisory Board, and a mix of state government departments in its development – all driven by a clear strategic vision.
“I’m passionate about innovation ecosystems that can diversify the economy with the right infrastructure and planning, plus long term support and commitment to a vision,” she says.
“Lot Fourteen is a beacon to put South Australia on the world stage.
“We have to all tell the story so that everyone gets excited about it.”