Innovation Infrastructure: Planning for Growth

The civilisation of human societies is underpinned by innovation – defined broadly as the application of better technological and social solutions that predicate and meet new requirements, crises, and challenges in social, economic and environmental domains. Innovation infrastructure, as planned facilities such as research parks that offer hardware, software and cultural support to innovation-focused activities, is suggested as an important, place-based lever to boost innovation and underpins UN’s Sustainable Development Goal. It creates conducive environments of concentrated talent, specialised buyers and sellers, and ease in networking and knowledge sharing for productivity gains. Yet little work has been done to systematically conceptualise its planning model and best practice globally.

This project seeks to advance knowledge to address this significant theoretical and practical gap. Its overall aim is to identify policy and practice actions to achieve effective innovation infrastructure planning in Australia. In order to deliver feasible outcomes, this study will focus on innovation districts, which are the emerging model of innovation infrastructure led by cutting-edge anchor institutes in compact urban areas. By comparing cases from Melbourne, Boston and Shanghai, this study will address the following research objectives:

  1. Identify the planning systems that have been developed to support innovation infrastructure, and how different types of planning and at the different levels of government align (or not).
  2. Investigate the design, implementation, and effects of Innovation District planning to date.
  3. Conceptualise and integrate the best planning practice into Australian planning policy and practice.

Diverse channels of dissemination will be used to inform and advice policymakers, practitioners, planners, academics, students and the public. Besides various academic outputs, one key outcome of the project will be the development of a framework for effective innovation infrastructure planning.  It is expected that this fundamental project will better support innovation activities to address multiple national research priorities, especially on mitigating and adapting to climate change, sustainable extraction and efficient use of resources, and building healthy and resilient communities. It will be of long-term national benefit, by informing policymakers to take a step change now on future proofing growth through innovation, which could be more difficult and costly if Australia becomes locked in a resource-dependent path.