Many Sydneysiders joke that going over the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the north shore requires a passport, even though to travel by car from one side of the bridge to the other is less than two kilometres.
Jokes aside, the chairman of the North Sydney Innovation Network (NSIN) Jonathan Herrman says there is a “real bias” impacting on the north shore’s ability to be recognised as a suitable precinct for innovation.
The north side of the harbour has a lot to offer the startup and innovation ecosystems, he said, especially in light of Sydney CBD office rental prices.
Mr Herrman says the city is “running too hot” with so many incubators, accelerators and coworking hubs packed into the central business district, and says there needs to be a solution to spread that out more evenly across Sydney.
He points to the plethora of existing assets based in the north shore which he says are under-utilised, and questions why the government is spending more funds to build precincts in western Sydney that are nearly identical resources that already exists.
These resources based in the north shore include global technology companies from Microsoft, Fujitsu, NetApp, and Vodafone being based in North Sydney, Chatswood, St Leonards, Ryde, and Macquarie Park; the CSIRO in Lindfield, Marsfield and North Ryde; the Northern Beaches hospital district; and the Royal North Shore that is leading in MedTech.
“I agree jobs are important for politicians out west. However, if you really want to drive a business well, you use the assets you’ve got first,” Mr Herrman said.
“There is an opportunity in many of the smaller startup / fast-growth / Innovation-driven enterprises of the area to be more productive and grow faster if there are places where small business innovators could come together,” states the NSIN vision document.
“To encourage precincts where such an opportunity can be taken up is in accordance with the first recommendation from the Crossroads 2016 industry report that recommended the creation of geographically concentrated innovation precincts of significant scale and density in each region,” it said.