A reflection on 2020.
Every 2020 reflection starts the same way…”what a year it has been”…and it’s difficult to describe it any other way.
From a rapid shift to remote working and overnight pivot to virtual events, there’s no doubt the COVID-19 pandemic placed our very way of life and operations in uncertain and unfamiliar territory.
Yet despite the many challenges, when we look back on this year and everything that has been achieved, we do so with a great sense of pride. I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge some of the many milestones we’ve met over the past twelve months.
It was in March that we celebrated Melbourne Connect reaching its maximum height and soon afterwards in July when the building facade was finally complete. Both milestones were made that much more challenging as construction restrictions affected the workforce onsite. Yet with Lendlease leading we were able to not only navigate all of this safely with no critical incidents and only a single lost time injury, but also make substantial progress with internal fit-outs setting us up for success in 2021.
Watch this video capturing the two-year construction journey as Melbourne Connect rose from the ground.
It’s truly been a year that’s demonstrated the power of strong partnerships and over the past few months we’ve been pleased to finalise agreements with several organisations who’ll form the founding ecosystem of innovation partners joining our world-class reseachers, startups, SME’s, government, corporates, artists, and Science Gallery Melbourne in calling Melbourne Connect home in 2021.
These partners form part of strong engagements we continue to have with prospective commercial and retail partner-tenants with negotiations underway with multiple parties across sectors including technology, design, energy and health, and spanning the enterprise lifecycle from spinouts and start-ups, to Australian businesses at the forefront of sector transformation, as well as major multinationals.
We’ve also formed a partnership with one of Australia’s most highly-renowned innovation hub operators who will be powering Melbourne Connect’s new coworking space, a 275 seat space with a focus on supporting the startup, innovation, and tech communities, it will play a key role in fostering the intricate innovation ecosystem that will exist within the precinct.
Continuing on this partnership theme we proudly launched the Telstra Creator Space in July, a state-of-the art maker space filled with 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines, and power tools – with access to expert machinists to guide the use of equipment and accessible for staff, students, and partners in the precinct. It will be powered by Melbourne School of Engineering and forms part of a major partnership with the Telstra Corporation.
The precinct will also welcome a new STEM Centre of Excellence, made possible through a partnership between the University of Melbourne and the Victorian Government. The Centre will inspire Victorian secondary students for the jobs of tomorrow in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and connect them to world-class research, teaching, and industry partners.
This STEM centre will be housed within Science Gallery Melbourne which has also recently announced the first exhibition for 2021 titled Mental. The immersive exhibition has been co-curated for young people, by young people, and will offer a place to explore what it means to be human with the help of art, science, and technology.
Science Gallery has also been leading on a number of First Nations activations and installations which have been born following extensive work that was commissioned to understand the history of this Place and ensure this is acknowledged and embedded throughout the precinct.
This work has been overseen by the Indigenous Narratives Advisory Group and includes two memory windows featuring artwork designed by indigenous artists connecting visitors to the history of the site, the planting of memory trees throughout the precinct accompanied by benches with poetry to encourage reflection, and importantly indigenous place names given to the various laneways throughout the precinct including Womin-Djerring (central oculus), Tongerambi kalk Way (birthing tree), Yagila-djerring Walk (learning/searching together), Ngang-gak djerring Walk (listening together) and Toom-djerring Walk (speaking together).
This acknowledgement of First Nations place and history will also feature on Science Gallery Melbourne’s Grattan Street entrance, in an exciting digital storytelling project that we look forward to sharing more about in the New Year.
We have also established student accommodation through a concession agreement with AMP Capital to deliver The Lofts @ Melbourne Connect, our first dedicated postgraduate residential community offering 527 places which will include live-in opportunities for visiting and academic fellows. Childcare will also be part of the precinct, life-long learning starting at an early age.
So as we set our sights on this precinct coming to life, we focus on fostering this vibrant community. As part of this commitment we’re currently recruiting for a number of roles across marketing and communications, events and activations, a digital content manager, as well as concierge services. The Melbourne Connect Teams will work closely with partners to support year round activity within many of the purpose-built event spaces including the Forum, Studio, and of course the 3000 sqm Superfloor surrounded by screens and meeting spaces, and where hundreds of events and activations are planned to be held next year.
This Place is going to be something quite special, and if the way our Melbourne Biomedical Precinct has led the health emergency response this year has shown us anything it is that precincts have such a critical role to play in innovation. The value of place + people + technology in tackling the most pressing societal problems and discovering possibilities has never been more important.
We thank you for being on this journey with us, and it is truly just the beginning. Season’s greetings and see you in early-2021 when Melbourne Connect comes to life.