Innovation districts

Following the dissolving of the Greater Cities Commission on 1 January 2024, Investment NSW has taken on some of the responsibility for the NSW innovation districts alongside other partner agencies such as the Office of Health and Medical Research.

People gather around a medical mannequin at the health and wellbeing lab.

What are innovation districts?

The Six Cities Region in NSW is home to the innovation district ecosystem.

The innovation district ecosystem is an interconnected ecosystem of innovation districts where places of learning are linked to supercharge economic productivity and growth. Knowledge jobs are supercharged across the ecosystem and region, supporting the broader jobs economy.

Explore the innovation districts

Central Coast innovation district

An expanding health, wellbeing, education and food manufacturing ecosystem.

People walk down the stairs at Tech Central

The most inclusive, welcoming, sustainable and creative district in the world.

Westmead Hospital block

A world-leading destination for Bioinnovation Impact.

Macquarie Park 

The Macquarie Park Innovation District, situated to the north-west of Sydney CBD, is the largest non-CBD office market in the country and the fourth biggest employment centre in Greater Sydney. The corridor stretches from Macquarie University to the north and extends south to North Ryde Metro Station. It offers a world-class university, major shopping centre, hospital, and high-tech employment hub. 

In 2020, the Commission led the development of a Strategic Infrastructure and Services Assessment (SISA) for the Macquarie Park Innovation District, a report prepared by the Department of Planning and Environment (DPE), to support the Macquarie Park Innovation Precinct Place Strategy (Place Strategy) and Macquarie Park Innovation Precinct Strategic Master Plan (Master Plan). That report identified further investigation is required regarding the infrastructure and services needed to meet the current deficits, as well as new demands from potential further rezonings. It broadly identified costs, land needs and funding sources. The report was publicly exhibited for comment in July/August 2021, and feedback received was considered in the preparation of the final report released in September 2022. 

The Commission also brought together the City of Ryde Council, state agencies and utilities to strategically understand the infrastructure and services needed to support recent and future growth and change across the 350-hectare district. 

Next steps 

The SISA will help guide strategic land use and infrastructure decision-making by Council and the NSW Government, and support the implementation of the Place Strategy actions in informing detailed neighbourhood master plans for future rezonings, the precinct transport study to led by Transport for NSW and infrastructure delivery plan to be led by DPE. 

Macquarie Park SISA Final Report - September 2022  (PDF, 9.1 MB)

Macquarie Park Place Strategy


How do we define innovation and what makes an innovation district?

Innovation is defined as the implementation of a new or significantly improved product, process, marketing method, or organizational method in business practices, workplace organization, or external relations by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD Oslo Manual). 

Innovation districts are geographically dense areas within or at the fringes of metropolitan centres where universities and other research and development focused institutions, both public and private, cluster and connect with investment and businesses of all stages and sizes. 

Innovation districts in NSW are made up of several single sector focused precincts, allowing for the ideas, technologies, and sectors to collide. These collisions result in multi-sectorial districts leading the creation of first world invention and new industries. They also stimulate new business model innovation and technology adoption in existing industries. 

Innovation districts are physically compact, transit-accessible, and technically wired, offering mixed-use housing, office, and retail. 

As magnets for investment, innovation districts will create new high growth companies, connect us globally and become sought-after places to live and work. 

Innovation ecosystems such as the Six Cities Region create pathways and talent pipelines to produce and share innovative ideas, methods and technologies to solve complex national and global problems through open innovation. 

Innovation ecosystems are highly networked, within and outside of innovation districts to create and grow the businesses and jobs of the future. They boost productivity through greater employment densities and attraction, skills matching and development, and collaboration and trust between partners. 

More importantly they are great ecosystems for commercial translation for global competitive advantage. A significant percentage of innovative businesses and skilled workers are choosing to co-locate in these amenity rich place-based clusters within or with easy access to metropolitan centres because of these opportunities.