A 20-year vision: Our economy has performed strongly over the past two decades, with new jobs in high-performing industries that are resilient to future shocks. Addressing workforce gaps, underrepresentation and the barriers to workforce participation has led to better living standards for individuals and families and improved economic security and wellbeing, bringing enormous social and economic benefits.
Our population is highly skilled in future-facing areas and the Six Cities Region is seen as the threshold between Australia and the world. The significant scale of the region allows each city’s competitive advantages to be fully utilised and invested in. Innovation districts are established as engine rooms of ideas, invention and collaboration, and they are connected to local industries, higher education institutions and Vocational Education and Training (VET). People can easily access local education and development opportunities and smart, secure jobs, many in the growing knowledge economy and international trade.
Growing knowledge intensive jobs and sectors
Our global economic advantage and ability to compete with the rest of the world depends on the knowledge and capability of our people and the innovation of our industries.
Currently, people across our Six Cities Region do not have equal access to job and education opportunities. To diversify our economy and attract, and then make the most of, talent and investment, we will develop a network of global innovation districts.
Innovation districts, including health and education hubs, remain priority areas for building knowledge intensive jobs growth across the Six Cities Region. A number of current projects will set the scene for improved economic dynamism and future knowledge intensive jobs growth across the Central River and Western Parkland Cities. This includes the recently announced Advanced Manufacturing Research Facility at Bradfield, as well as investment in the Viral Vector Manufacturing Facility at the Westmead Health and Innovation District.
Defining the distinct and complementary roles of the innovation districts, global trade gateways, and economic corridors in all six cities will benefit each city and underpin the success of the region. Sustainable economic growth will be secured by building upon existing industries and growing jobs in priority knowledge and industry sectors. Focus industries will include agriculture, tourism, technology, health industries, defence and aerospace, renewable energy, advanced manufacturing and materials, and smart freight and logistics.
By making access to education more equitable and ensuring that jobs are more evenly spread across the region, people will have better access to more jobs, closer to where they live.
Innovation districts as talent attraction hubs
The Commission will work with our partners to develop a network of globally significant innovation districts across the Six Cities Region. The Commission will shape the development of at least three new innovation districts in the Lower Hunter and Greater Newcastle City, Central Coast City and Illawarra-Shoalhaven City, complementing the existing innovation districts in Greater Sydney:
- the Aerotropolis, centred on semiconductors, defence, aerospace and modern manufacturing
- Tech Central, which has a focus on deep tech, software as a service, quantum cyber and information and communication technology
- Westmead, which drives health innovation, building on Westmead’s strengths in advanced therapeutics, translation cancer, immunology, vaccinology clinical trials and digital health.
These vibrant precincts will bring people and organisations together in a dynamic exchange of ideas, capabilities, research and commercialisation. They will help each city attract and retain talent and create additional jobs, both within the districts and through creating an innovation ecosystem across the city region, where research from each district can be practically applied and locally developed.
An innovation ecosystem
Globally significant innovation districts have a number of common elements, including more than one advanced institute of education, a scale-up start-up ecosystem and a unique and easily identified economic advantage. Many of these elements are already in place, with our seven world-class universities accessible within 30 minutes of each innovation district, and partnerships between innovation districts and universities currently being built.
The Commission proposes that the Lower Hunter and Greater Newcastle City innovation district is likely to be centred around renewable energy, net zero emissions and military sustainment as well as defence and aerospace alongside advanced manufacturing emerging industries. The Central Coast City innovation district is likely to focus on health, technology and food manufacturing, while the Illawarra-Shoalhaven City innovation district is likely to be anchored on our maritime defence and aerospace capability, freight and logistics, specialised steel manufacturing, and the cultural and creative industries.
|Progressing this Region Shaper|
5.1 The Region Plan and City Plans will include globally significant innovation districts with strategic economic advantage in each city, including in the Lower Hunter and Greater Newcastle City, Central Coast City and Illawarra-Shoalhaven City.
5.2 The Commission will link innovation districts in an innovation ecosystem, connected to existing opportunity initiatives, port and airport gateways, university campuses and VET training institutions and by gigabit scale internet to the entire city region and the world.
Building resilient economies based on each city’s strengths
The Six Cities Region is the largest and most productive urban region in Australia, with a population of over six million residents and around three million jobs. The population is forecast to increase to over eight million by 2040. In 2021, our region added $485 billion in output, which equates to roughly 83 per cent of the NSW economy.
There is a great opportunity to leverage the combined scale and economy of the Six Cities Region while supporting industry specialisations in each city. Honing each city’s unique comparative advantages will unlock local job opportunities in a range of industries. Jobs will be more equally distributed across the region, which means that people will not have to travel as far for work.
Balancing employment across the Six Cities Region
A catalyst for A Metropolis of Three Cities was the need to rebalance employment opportunity across Greater Sydney, with knowledge intensive jobs historically concentrated in the Eastern Harbour City. This remains the case, however preliminary research suggests that a shift is occurring. In shaping the Six Cities Region, the Commission will focus on growing knowledge industries to ensure that workers are well matched to jobs in their region, and that companies are able to scale up, innovate and broaden their market reach.
The Commission will draw upon the work already done in Williamtown Special Activation Precinct and on the existing Hunter and Central Coast Region Plans that target and prioritise knowledge jobs in these cities. Initiatives such as the Central Coast Food Manufacturing and Innovation Hub, investment into the expansion of the University of Newcastle, and the Hunter-Central Coast Renewable Energy Zone, aim to set up the regions for a transformation to increased knowledge intensive jobs in the years to come. Initiatives such as Illawarra Renewable Energy Zone, Shell Cove Business and Technology Park and innovation programs associated with the University of Wollongong will position the Illawarra-Shellharbour City for growth in knowledge jobs.
The growth of the knowledge economy and diversification of industry sectors will support jobs for the future and more high-quality jobs for more people, closer to home. This will encourage government and industry supporting local jobs attainment, reducing the need for people to travel for work opportunities.
The growth of innovation districts across the six cities will be a significant lever and catalyst in achieving this. The Commission will also investigate mechanisms to help develop skills and investment and ensure the inclusivity and vibrancy of these districts. Collectively, these measures will result in knowledge intensive jobs being shared across the six cities, reducing the historical reliance on the Eastern Harbour City for future opportunities.
|Progressing this Region Shaper|
5.3 The Region Plan will set job targets for each of the six cities and across four categories of jobs (knowledge-intensive, health and education, population-serving and industrial).
5.4 In setting jobs targets, the Region Plan will recommend the incentives, planning changes and encourage investment and skills creation needed to achieve targets.
Supporting long term investment through industrial lands
Industrial lands have an important role to play as a vital piece of economic infrastructure, because they help to generate the investment needed for the effective functioning of the Six Cities Region, including supporting an efficient supply chain.
Industrial lands must be strategically planned so that we can coordinate the functions and types of land use and infrastructure. If links are missing in the supply chain, this impacts the productivity, functioning and economic resilience of cities. If the supply chain is too complex, this can reduce sustainability and competitiveness especially for export industries and citizen services.
The Commission recently completed a review of the retain and manage approach to managing industrial and urban services land in Greater Sydney. The Review highlighted the importance of a policy that ensures a productive network of industrial lands. This will be reflected in the 2023 Region Plan.
|Progressing this Region Shaper|
5.5 The Region Plan will include an industrial lands policy across the Six Cities Region to provide certainty to communities, businesses and investors to support local, regional and state economic growth. This will ensure that industrial areas are sustainably linked to current and global gateways like ports and airports.
5.6 Industrial lands policy will ensure industrial areas are located close to the businesses and communities they serve, including locations near major gateways, economic corridors and innovation districts, so that new industries in the Six Cities Region can sustain a global comparative advantage.