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Park a world-class venue

IN the 16 years it has been open, Technology Park has become much more than a home for WA’s growing research and development sector. It is widely regarded as Australia’s leading scientific park and has been ranked ninth in the world by the International Association of Science Parks.

Opened in 1985, the park was established by the former Department of Commerce and Trade with a vision to assist the WA economy to move away from the primary industries on which it so heavily relies.

At the time the department predicted the park would be a catalyst for science and technology development. And this has never been more evident than in the past four years as the number of companies located at the park has grown from just 25 to 82.

High profile organisations such as TiWest Joint Venture, Intellect Australia, Bayer and Computronics have chosen the prestigious Bentley address and, together with other park organisations, last financial year generated a combined turnover in excess of $500 million.

Twenty per cent of this turnover is reinvested into research and development at the park. This figure is substantially higher than the national average, according to Roy Chapman, acting team leader for the industry infrastructure department at the Department of Industry and Technology.

The park also has attracted the attention of the CSIRO, which will open its $34 million National Research Centre for Minerals and Energy by the end of this year.

“The park is so successful, companies never want to leave because the environment is so conducive to what they want to do,” Mr Chapman said

“New companies start in the park’s Business Incubator, which has all the necessary research and development facilities … and then they move up to the Enterprise Units, which are something like a graduated incubator.

“After that, the idea is they become so successful, they build or rent their own premises in Technology Park.”

He said the ancillary businesses, such as patent attorneys and venture capitalists, located at the park were of great service to the research and development organisations and simply added to the park’s appeal.

The popularity of the park has meant that there is little freehold land left to develop. Only four blocks are left.

Land in the area is fetching up to $125 per square metre and rental rates are between $155/sqm and $175/sqm.

A new office development by the Boston Group is well placed to take advantage of the reduced space.

Located on a 1.3ha site, the building will create 7500sqm of net lettable space which, according to Boston Group manager Ric Rizzi, can be divided to suit a range of tenancy sizes.

“There is a great deal of flexibility in the design … we can have units as small as 67sqm or up to 1012sqm,” Mr Rizzi said.

“It gives smaller tenants the opportunity to come and be a part of the park … which has gone through different stages of growth and is now a world-class facility,”

Mr Rizzi said the new building would focus on excellent amenities and would include security, cafe/bar/bistro and an exclusive staff gym.

Advanced Energy Systems is behind a second development at Technology Park. After nine years of renting a premise the company has decided to build its own.

“We will be building a 1600sqm office and research facility … we will take up at least half of that and we have not yet decided whether to lease the other half,” AES managing director Stephen Phillips said.

“Technology Park is a very good location in terms of being close to the (Perth) city. It provides for technology type research, given its proximity to the Curtin University, and it is an incredibly prestigious address at an international level.”

Though there is little space left in the park itself, the new Technology Precinct would provide other opportunities for organisations to be associated with the park, according to park and precinct manager Zernicke Australia’s chief executive officer, Peter Why.

“The Technology Precinct is the next stage and that will involve developing strong links between all the organisations within the 314ha precinct, which includes the park itself along with the new CSIRO centre, Curtin University, Department of Conservation and Land Management, Agriculture WA, local high schools and more.”

A board has been created to manage the expanded precinct, which together have an annual turnover in excess of $2 billion.

“At the end of the day the mission is to develop a living and working community between the organisations involved and promote the entire precinct on an international scale,” Mr Why said.

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