Australian tech leaders to run Sydney innovation precincts

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

The Tech Central and Westmead Health and Innovation Districts have new leaders, with the Greater Sydney Commission announcing Annie Parker and Liza Noonan as respective executive directors of the precincts.

Ms Parker, who recently left Microsoft, will lead the inner-city Tech Central district from next month, while Ms Noonan, the current CSIRO global director, will oversee the Western Sydney health research institute from next year.

Both Ms Parker and Ms Noonan join Sydney’s technology and innovation push with global experience in innovation and startup programs.

Annie Parker and Liza Noonan
Big hires: Annie Parker and Liza Noonan

After starting her career in the telco sector, Ms Parker lead Australian and global startup programs of Telfonica and Telstra, as well as startup accelerators Lighthouse Sydney and Fishburners. She also spent five years as director of Code Club Australia, a nation-wide network of school coding clubs, and has been a long-time advocate for diversity and inclusion.

In 2018, Microsoft brought in Ms Parker to lead its global startup program but she remained based in the Sydney Startup Hub.

She will lead Tech Central, a collection of six innovation nodes around Central Station, as executive director from December 7.

Ms Noonan will join from the national science agency from early next year. After being involved in several innovation programs, Ms Noonan joined CSIRO in 2015 as an executive in the ON Accelerator program.

She rose to become CSIRO’s global director late last year. She will take the role of Westmead Health and Innovation Districts Executive Director from January 31 next year.

“Looking forward to joining a wonderful team and championing the outstanding research, innovation and collaboration at the Westmead Precinct to attract talent and investment to fuel our future economy,” Ms Noonan wrote on LinkedIn.

“Thankyou to the leaders and many amazing colleagues at CSIRO for the opportunities and experiences to be part of such a high impact organisation.”

Greater Sydney Commission chief executive Elizabeth Mildwater welcomed both appointments last week.

“Annie is a globally recognised startup ecosystem leader, having built multiple startup programs around the world for Microsoft, Telefonica and Telstra. She is also an advocate for equity and inclusion, which she led in her most recent role in the Startups team at Microsoft, and she has built programs that grow the broader community, teaching technology and entrepreneurial skills to communities that need them,” Ms Mildwater said.

“Liza comes to us from CSIRO where she was director company creation, director global and leader of the ON Accelerator, Australia’s first national science and technology accelerator supporting publicly funded research achieve real world impact faster.

Ms Mildwater said the appointments come at a crucial time for Sydney’s innovation precincts.

“Knowledge intensive industries will fuel our future economy, attracting investment and talent. These industries need cities that can deliver a concentration of talent, infrastructure and ideas. Greater Sydney’s innovation precincts will be home to world-class research and cutting-edge companies, supporting outstanding research, innovation and collaboration,” Ms Mildwater said.

“And our innovation districts are more than just places to work. As magnets for talent and investment, they must be great places to live, and diverse and vibrant centres of creativity and culture, leisure and innovation.”

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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