Western Sydney’s pitch to become health tech hub

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The Western Sydney suburb of Westmead is staking its future on transforming into a “globally renowned” health innovation hub, creating up to 50,000 roles for knowledge workers by 2036.

While Barangaroo is being marked as a fintech hub and White Bay as a potential home for Sydney’s start-up ecosystem, the Sydney Business Chamber is pressing Westmead as a home of innovation in the west.

“If embraced by government, Westmead provides the opportunity to deliver 50,000 new high-value, specialist knowledge economy jobs by 2036 in the Westmead precinct,” the director of Sydney Business Chamber in Western Sydney David Borger said.

Achieving that kind of growth is dependent on Westmead transforming into a “globally renowned Innovation District”, using a concept created in Toronto, Canada.

Westmead has some of the pieces already, including an “established ecosystem of leading public and private health, education, and medical research anchor institutions”, according to a report by Deloitte released this week.

It also has a pool of STEM talent. “In 2011, more than 71,000 residents living within 30 minutes of Westmead held degree or higher qualifications in the fields of science, health, engineering, mathematics and IT,” the report said.

“A total of 3700 residents holding PhDs also live within Westmead’s labour market catchment.

“Westmead not only draws upon talented labour, it also produces it. In 2016 Westmead will train over 200 PhD students; along with providing over 1100 highly skilled medical research jobs, of which 170 are leading clinical academic scientist jobs.”

However, one of the main elements that Westmead needs to develop is the precinct’s attractiveness to health tech firms.

“For Westmead to develop as an ‘Innovation District’ it requires one final species to be added to the ecosystem; this species being major health technology enterprises such as bio and medical technology firms,” Deloitte noted.

“These enterprise types will be critical in Westmead’s future success.”

The Deloitte report said that Westmead was “well-placed to work with innovative, entrepreneurial private companies”.

“Westmead is … capable of creating new health innovations and enterprises that develop new services and products with the single goal of improving health care outcomes in more cost-effective ways,” it said.

“This requires new and expanded partnerships; those that span health, education and research along with the business community.

“Westmead represents a ready mix of existing partners capable of driving the creation of new innovations and ideas that will drive the development of new models of health care delivery – including preventative health – in more cost effective ways.

“This vision is about inviting the business sector to Westmead to work with existing precinct partners to address these challenges, and to help create Australia’s next generation of health innovations and related enterprises.”

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