Flinders Uni says scope for two more buildings at Tonsley
This story was published: 21 hours ago July 29, 2014 12:30AM
Flinders Uni project communications officer Michelle Bini with senior vice-president Shane McGregor outside the new building at Tonsley. Pic: Roy VanDerVegt. Source: News Limited
FLINDERS University has flagged the construction of two more buildings within the Tonsley redevelopment over the medium to long term as its $120 million investment begins to take shape.
However, a 24/7 activation of the former Mitsubishi Motors manufacturing site, including through mixed-use residential development, is critical to the long-term vision of the university, its vice-president Shane McGregor said.
Flinders University’s to-date investment at the Tonsley site is its largest single capital outlay since it opened in 1966 and is key to doubling the size of its School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics, which has been growing at 80 per cent in the past three years.
“The Tonsley siting allows us the capability and spaces we are going to need to partner with industry while we are growing the size of our school,” Mr McGregor recently told an American Chamber of Commerce SA forum on future-proofing South Australia’s industries.
“We’ll have about 2000 students and 150 staff there.
“Our real aim is for innovation and collaboration with various industry partners at the site so we can partner on producing the graduates industry needs.
“We are also leasing a pod there for our heavy equipment, so we can share some of that equipment with business.”
Mr McGregor reiterated Flinders’ New Venture Institute, Medical Device Research Institute, Flinders Partners, Southern Knowledge Transfer Partnership, and Centre for Nanoscale Science and Technology will also be based at Tonsley.
“All the parts of the Uni aimed at enterpreneurship or innovation will be located at the site.”
The six-storey building, about 16,000 sq m, sits on the edge of a planned town square on the site, and will be the second-highest in the sourthern suburbs, just after Westfield at Marion when it’s completed ahead of its opening in January next year.
“It’s quite a large presence there. It’s about transforming our business.
“The sort of vision of the state government is to have education anchors there, have pulse for innovation for SMEs to come in and having R&D aligned with industry.”
The 61-hectare Tonsley site is being redeveloped in three stages with medium to high density housing making up nearly one third of the redevelopment.
A number of SMEs, including Signostics, are moving into the precinct, a new TAFE campus has been completed and the Flinders University building and a town square is under construction.
“Success for us is working closely more and more with industry, getting placements for our graduates, producing the right kind of graduates.
“Mixed use residential and wider activation of the site is going to be important, important to get certain economies of scale and size there.
“Sadly, it’s a 10-20 year vision for the site but it’s important that people buy into it.
SA Centre for Economic Studies (SACES) director Michael O’Neil, who was also speaking at the event, said the redevelopment of the site was the sort of infrastructure South Australia needed to invest in.
“These physical networks are really important.
“Infrastructure that lasts for long time and brings people and small companies is important and it might be one of the options for the northern suburbs too,” Mr O’Neil said.
He said it was difficult to future-proof economies, which were constantly changing worldwide.
”You have to expose it (SA economy) to the winds of change. Can we take our economy and ratchet it up?
“We can, if we can ratchet up our education and quality of our human capital.”
Mr O’Neil said manufacturing in South Australia in the last 28 years (1985-2013) had lost 29,000 jobs.
“Enough to make anyone pessimistic, but you look at five other sectors of construction, retail professional and scientific, public administration and education, each of those increased by 29,000. Health and community services increased by 58,000 jobs.”
“We need to acknowledge as a community that the low-wage, sort of multi-labour, assembly type jobs... have gone to other economies.”
“We have to upgrade our whole education system, focus on innovation, commercialisation... that’s where South Australia can position itself.
“It’s not all doom and gloom.
“Clearly the focus is first of all assistance to displaced workers (of GM Holden).
“Government should assist companies, not by grants, but putting up some contestible funding in place, assist companies to commercialise, to help come up with a plan, think about the future, be farsighted.”
Mr O’Neil said networks like those likely to be created at Tonsley would enable companies and people to come together and share ideas.
Productivity of the public workforce and boosting the potential of agribusiness to tap into ASEAN demands were things the state government needed to strongly focus on, he said.
“Our agriculture sector is a gem and we need to be much more strongly supportive of it to do this.
“Overall I think South Australia still needs to talk about a culture of excellence, a culture of meritocracy.”