Victoria invests $179m in innovation precinct


Denham Sadler
Senior Reporter

A new centre of innovation will be established at the old Holden factory on the outskirts of the Melbourne CBD with $180 million in funding from the Victorian government.

Treasurer Tim Pallas unveiled the Victorian budget on Thursday afternoon, with $342 billion in spending over the next four years.

A huge reform of the state’s mental health initiatives sits at the heart of the budget, which includes few new tech or innovation-focused policies.

This is unsurprising, with the last state budget, which was only six months ago, allocating unprecedented levels of funding to a range of tech funds and initiatives.

Martin Pakula
Martin Pakula

This initiatives included a $2 billion Breakthrough Victoria Fund,  a $50 million fund for companies accessing the research and development tax incentive and the $61 million Victorian Startup Capital Fund.

The flagship policy for the industry in the latest budget is $179 million to start work on redeveloping the old General Motors Holden site at Fishermans Bend in Port Melbourne, 4km from the Melbourne CBD, into an innovation precinct.

The Victorian government will also invest $50 million to kickstart efforts to establish a local mRNA vaccine manufacturing capability in the state.

The funding for the Fishermans Bend project will go towards the commencement of remediation works at the 32-hectare site, the installation of essential utility services and the establishment of a road to connect it with the University of Melbourne’s future School of Engineering campus, which will be up and running there by 2024.

More than $23 million has been allocated for this work in 2021-22, with an estimated completion date in mid-2024.

“Transforming a 20th century icon of traditional manufacturing in the shadows of Melbourne’s CBD into a future-focused hub of innovation, design and new jobs tells the story of a state on the path to recovery,” the budget papers said.

The site will eventually be a centre of innovation focusing on advanced manufacturing, engineering and design, with an aim for it to be a “world-renowned centre for innovation by 2051”, with up to 30,000 jobs supported at the site.

“The old Holden factory is part of Victoria’s manufacturing history. This important first step will help transform it into Victoria’s manufacturing future,” business precincts minister Martin Pakula said.

“We’re creating the foundations for a world-leading hub for ideas, innovation and 21st century industry – it’s an investment in jobs and the people of Victoria.”

The state budget also set aside $50 million over two years for the first stage of establishing a local mRNA vaccine manufacturing capability in Victoria. It comes just a week after the federal government also provided funding for a local mRNA manufacturing capability, but the exact dollar figure was not revealed.

The Victorian funding will go towards the establishment of a mRNA vaccine and therapeutic manufacturing capability in the state, in collaboration with the Commonwealth government, Monash University, the University of Melbourne and the Doherty Institute.

The state government said this will provide vaccine security, ensure manufacturing can be contracted locally and provide a more robust defence against future pandemics.

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