ACS NSW branch chair Richard Baecher has welcomed plans by the state government to create a new hub for technology start-ups and “knowledge-intensive industries” in the former White Bay Power Station in Sydney’s inner west.
The plan for the new tech district was unveiled as part of a broader announcement on the future of Sydney’s Bays Precinct, covering a swathe of space bounded by Pyrmont, Glebe Island and Rozelle.
NSW Premier Mike Baird likened it to the creation of a “Silicon Harbour” hub that would play host to the city’s thriving start-up scene – a comparison that Baecher concurred with.
“This is a great endorsement of digital growth in NSW and there is a chance here to develop a precinct that rivals Silicon Valley” Baecher said.
“The future of the NSW economy lies in developing digital services and having a dedicated research and innovation hub can only be beneficial.
“We strongly support the development of NSW’s innovation capability and it is pleasing to see the Government behind this.”
While enthusiastic about the investment, Baecher warned there was “still a great deal of work to do” to make the plan for White Bay into a reality.
“Transport connections to the CBD will be a critical part of ensuring the precinct works,” he said.
“In addition to this, the Government needs to ensure that costs are well managed so start-ups and innovators are not priced out of the market.”
Those concerns were echoed by other technology industry players, including Atlassian, which has been lobbying the NSW Government to revamp Australian Technology Park at Redfern instead, potentially enabling the site to reach its intended potential.
"While harbour foreshore views are undoubtedly attractive, they also command a premium price," Atlassian said in a statement reported by SBS.
"And with no nearby mass transit solution, it means the proposal falls way beyond the reach of the majority of our start-up community, incubators and universities who form a critical part of the technology ecosystem."
Incubator BlueChilli raised similar concerns that start-ups could be priced out of Sydney’s expensive waterfront.
The NSW Government will host an event on October 30 to discuss proposals from companies capable of transforming White Bay into the technology hub the Government wants.
Proposals for the development of the precinct will be open until February next year.