The Fishermans Bend Employment Precinct presents the unique opportunity to create 21st century jobs centred on innovation, entrepreneurship and design excellence in manufacturing.

The Employment Precinct sits at the north-western end of the broader Fishermans Bend renewal area between the Westgate and Bolte bridges. At more than 230 hectares, it is the largest of Fishermans Bend’s five precincts. Unlike the mixed-use precincts of Lorimer, Montague, Sandridge and Wirraway, the Employment Precinct was not rezoned in 2012 and has retained its mix of industrial and commercial zoning.

The Employment Precinct has a proud legacy in turning bold ideas into tried and tested products; from the roll-out of the first Australian designed and built production vehicle to the development of world-leading carbon fibre technology utilised on the largest and most complex aircraft.

Already home to world-leading advanced manufacturers including Boeing, General Motors Holden (GMH) and Siemens, the vision for the Employment Precinct is to host 40,000 jobs and be Australia’s premier location for innovators and an internationally renowned centre of innovation in design and manufacturing. 

Recognising the immense opportunity, the Victorian Government purchased the former General Motors Holden (GMH) production site in 2016 to support, catalyse and curate an innovation ecosystem that unlocks the next wave of growth and evolution in Fishermans Bend. The former GMH site (~32 hectares) sits at the heart of the broader Fishermans Bend Employment Precinct (~230 hectares).

The University of Melbourne has already committed to the former GMH site, and with aspirations to be one of the world’s leading engineering schools, anticipates opening a new custom-built campus at Fishermans Bend in the near future. The presence of world-leading engineering and design research alongside start-ups, scale-ups, investors and world-leading industry partners will turbo charge the collaboration and partnerships that drive innovation.

Artist impression of GMH site
An artist's impression of the former GMH site in the Employment Precinct of Fishermans Bend.  

Led by the Fishermans Bend Taskforce, planning is underway to draw from and build on the Precinct’s proud legacy, and with industry and institutional partners, realise an innovation precinct of truly global significance.

But what is an ‘innovation precinct’?

In a world where many tasks are orientated around creative problem solving, the process of innovation increasingly thrives on collaboration and convergence across diverse skill set, technologies and different ways of thinking.  
These changes are impacting spatially, with the landscape for innovation now predominantly urban, with world best practice focused on the development of innovation precincts or districts.

Global thought leaders, the Brookings Institute, note:

“Innovation precincts facilitate the creation and commercialization of new ideas and support metropolitan economies by growing jobs in ways that leverage their distinct economic attributes. These districts build on and revalue the intrinsic qualities of cities: proximity, density, authenticity, and vibrant places.”

In these environments, entrepreneurs mingle with other entrepreneurs, ideas and different ways of problem solving converge and collaborations form. Precincts build a critical mass of economic activity, reinforcing competitive advantage and brand, and promoting agglomeration benefits and the sharing of knowledge and services.

In planning for innovation precincts, the Brookings Institute have identified the importance of three interrelated assets that are required to support a strong innovation ecosystem:

  • Economic assets: are the companies, institutions and organisations that drive, cultivate or support an innovation rich environment
  • Physical assets: are publicly, or privately-owned spaces including streets, open spaces and other infrastructure, designed and organised to stimulate new and higher levels of connectivity, collaboration and innovation
  • Networking assets: are the relationships between people, companies and places that facilitate ideas generation and advances in commercialisation.

Innovation Ecosystems diagram from the Brookings Institute
All innovation districts contain economic, physical, and networking assets. Image from the Brookings Institution

Planning for the Employment Precinct of Fishermans Bend is applying this holistic framework, with the Victorian Government working closely with industry partners, anchor institutions and local government to progress the transition of the precinct as it enters this exciting next phase of its already distinguished life.

For more information on the theory of innovation precincts and districts can be found on the Brookings website.

For more information on the Victorian Government’s policy “Unlocking Enterprise in a Changing Economy”, visit the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning website.

Page last updated: 13/05/19