Innovation hub Fire Station 101 set for transformation

Ipswich City Council’s innovation hub Fire Station 101 has worked with more than 180 start-up businesses, which have secured $600,000-plus in initial investment and spawned 15 new companies, while hosting more than 150 events since 2016.

Council’s Economic Development Manager Paul Massingham said the council owned incubator was about to undergo an innovative transformation, with an expression of interest going out to attract potential partners.

“The transfer and integration of Fire Station 101 into council’s Office of Economic Development has maximised council’s investment and resources in the delivery of innovation, business accelerator, technology and smart city activities delivering increased economic, workforce and community outcomes,” Mr Massingham said.

“As we look to the future of Fire Station 101, a review of community needs, market factors and operating models has lead the team to explore alternative ways to deliver relevant products and services through Fire Station 101 as a centre of excellence that grows knowledge, encourages collaboration and develops skills to drive social and economic outcomes for Ipswich.

“Consequently an expression of interest for Fire Station 101 partners is recommended, seeking proposals from organisations to deliver products and services that will improve and enhance community knowledge and skills to build business capability.”

Mr Massingham said the EOI would seek management or service delivery options for Fire Station 101; development, deliver and coordinate products and services such as programs, activities, and events focused on knowledge and skill and capability development of FS101 members and the community; raise the profile of and promote it to industry, business and the community; identify and pursue alternative funding opportunities.

“Fire Station 101 builds the capability to innovate through being an innovation precinct that grows knowledge, encourages collaboration and develops skills to drive social and economic outcomes for Ipswich,” he said.

“The purpose of the proposed EOI is to seek proposals from organisations to partner with Fire Station 101 with the intent to deliver products and services that will improve or enhance knowledge and skills to build innovation capability.”

Ipswich City Council is working with the Queensland Government, proposing Fire Station 101 as a possible location for the State’s $5 million Defence supply chain and logistics hub.

Ipswich is seen as the prime location for such a hub with the region’s defence industry booming after the $5 billion Australian Army’s armoured vehicle contract being based here and council’s successful Defence summit last November attracting some of the nation’s major stakeholders.

Mr Massingham said it is expected State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Minister Cameron Dick will announce the establishment of the Ipswich Defence Hub in the very near future.

“The establishment of defence hubs is a priority action for the Queensland Government. This commitment includes a three-year allocation of $5M for the potential establishment of a Defence supply chain and logistics hub in Ipswich,” he said.

“It is intended that the hub will facilitate engagement with and assist SME companies in innovation and capability building and targeting and securing defence maintenance, supply chain and logistics contracts.”

Mr Massingham said council worked closely with DSDMIP to address its requirements and position Fire Station 101 – which has been used as a start-up incubator, co-working space and events facility since 2016 –  as the preferred location for the establishment of the Defence hub.

“Defence is a high priority sector for Ipswich and establishing the Defence hub in Ipswich aligns with priority actions identified in the Defence Ipswich Action Plan,” he said.

“Significant benefits and leveraging opportunities can be gained by having this hub located within FS101 which will strengthen the assets value proposition and increase the return on investment to council.”

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