University of Sydney to build $478m biomedical research accelerator

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

A $478 million biomedical precinct for health research and patient care will be built by the University of Sydney between its Camperdown campuses and the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, thanks to $73 million in philanthropic support and $143 million from the state government.

The university revealed the plan on Monday, announcing the Sydney Biomedical Accelerator (SBA) will be operating by 2026 within the Sydney innovation precinct Tech Central. It will eventually house 1200 biomedical researchers and clinician scientists.

The precinct is the largest ever capital investment by the sandstone university and the key plank in its 10-year strategic plan to be unveiled by vice chancellor Mark Scott on Tuesday.

Architect’s concept. Image: Denton Corker Marshall.

The SBA will be a 36,000m2 health, education, and research precinct focused on health life sciences, regenerative medicine, drug discovery and medical devices. On completion the university and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital will share physical facilities, in an effort to link patient care and research directly.

Over 1200 biomedical researchers, including 800 of the university’s laboratory researchers and PhD students and 100 industry researchers, are expected to work on complex health challenges like cancer and neurodegenerative diseases at the facility.

Architect’s concept. Image: Denton Corker Marshall.

Sydney University announced the plan on Monday, issuing a statement saying it will “change healthcare in Australia forever”.

“This is a historic investment for any university. The range of world-class buildings and facilities that will make up the Sydney Biomedical Accelerator will bring together the brightest scientific and clinical minds with entrepreneurs, industry and government,” Professor Scott said.

“It gives our renowned researchers and partners the infrastructure to take a major step forward in the global quest to find solutions to our biggest health challenges. Together, we have the potential to dramatically improve the future of health and medical care in this country.”

Architect’s concept. Image: Denton Corker Marshall.

Professor Scott will address the National Press Club on Wednesday, where he is expected to provide more details on the university’s new decade-long strategy.

The new accelerator has been modelled on overseas biomedical facilities including the Karolinska Institutet, a precinct home to half of Sweden’s life science companies, the University of Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District and MassBio, a life science “super-cluster” of 1,100 members including Harvard, MIT, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital.

The SBA is a partnership between Sydney University, the Sydney Local Health District and the New South Wales Government, in collaboration with independent research organisation, the Centenary Institute.

The state government provided $143.3 million for the SBA in June. The project also collected record philanthropic donations of $73 million.

The largest $20 million donation came from the foundation of Susan and Isaac Wakil, who made their fortune in clothing and Sydney CBD property.

Architectural firms Denton Corker Marshall and HDR have been selected to design the new facilities and will finalise designs over the next 12 to 18 months.

Early works for the SBA will commence later this year and initial occupation is expected to occur from 2026, according to the University of Sydney.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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