Skip to main content

Originally posted in The Advertiser on September 25, 2018. Written by Daniel Wills, State Political Editor, The Advertiser.

  • Chamonix move to Former RAH

ABOUT 1000 people are expected to be working at a new business hub on the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site by next year and clear signs of progress will be obvious by Christmas, Premier Steven Marshall says.

Mr Marshall, touring the Lot Fourteen site with The Advertiser this week ahead of a large digital training and networking event there on Wednesday, also confirmed space set aside for start-up businesses and innovation will more than quadruple to 23,500sq m after strong market interest.

He has also released new artist’s impressions of development plans for the site, which including revitalising old outpatient and theatre block buildings set to host a new culinary school which will replace Regency Park’s ageing Le Cordon Bleu facility.

Mr Marshall said he was determined not to overspruik what would be achieved at the site, but insisted there was already clear evidence that it was drawing entrepreneurs who would create jobs and maintain vibrancy in the East End.

“In the lead-up to the election, we were keen not to over-promise for this site, because the people of SA were sick to death of flashy plans for the site which were never realised,” Mr Marshall said. “We’ve been really buoyed by the fact that the market has said ‘yes, there is a real interest in a curated precinct for start-up innovation and acceleration’.”

More than 500 people are now at the site, including SA Pathology and new tenants Chamonix IT Solutions and Myriota.

Early next year, a further 300 people will join the site with the University of Adelaide’s Australian Institute of Machine Learning.

It is understood 40 more businesses are looking at establishing business operations at the old RAH site soon.

The Government has also earmarked a heritage building to host the new national space agency if SA’s bid is successful, and believes having established offices ready to go significantly enhances the offer.

Mr Marshall, who’s taken personal control of overseeing the site’s development, last month appointed former defence company chief executive Jim Whalley as the state’s first chief entrepreneur. He will operate from the old RAH and is in charge of organising regular business training and networking events. Wednesday’s Google-run “digital garage” is being billed as a “soft opening” for the tech precinct.

Mr Marshall said he was “absolutely confident” the expanded commercial space, for which firms are paying market rent, would be filled and a CBD precinct with organised access to training and potential investors would be a big drawcard.

“There is really very little like this anywhere in Australia, where you have a curated precinct which is focused on start-up, scale-up and innovation,” Mr Marshall said.

“This will really create a very compelling offer, not only for start-ups from SA but I think attracting a lot of global companies’ innovation and research capability to Adelaide.

“We have an ambition for SA to be the defence and space capital of the country.”

He said the Government was keeping an open mind about how to use remaining parts of the huge 7ha site.

Old RAH tenants will be able to engage in joint projects with operators at the Tonsley Park innovation hub, but the two sites will be run separately.

“We do not want this to become the next Le Cornu North Adelaide site, sitting there as a symbol of this state’s stagnation,” Mr Marshall said.

“We want this to be a symbol of our transformation as a state into future industries and jobs for the next generation.

“We’ll have hundreds more (people) before Christmas and then hopefully by the middle of next year we will have over 1000 people on that site. People will be able to go down there, before the end of this year, and see with their own eyes.”

First firms to move to old site

Simeon Thomas-Wilson, City Editor

The first tenants of the city’s new creation and innovation site at the old Royal Adelaide Hospital say they will be able to connect to global companies such as Microsoft and Amazon after moving in.

Chamonix IT Solutions and Myriota will bring a workforce of more than 100 people, specialising in big data, cyber security, defence and space technologies, to the 7ha site now called Lot Fourteen after moving onto the premises this week. Chamonix director Scott Grigg said his company, which works with organisations to achieve and maintain digital currency – said the move would let Chamonix work with some of the biggest players in the industry, worldwide. “Our new location at Lot Fourteen will create more opportunities to connect and collaborate with both local and global partners, such as Microsoft, Amazon and Adobe,” he said.

Myriota is an Adelaide-based satellite communications company that specialises in low-cost Internet of Things connectivity. Chief executive and co-founder Dr Alex Grant said the move would coincide with 50 new jobs being created over the next couple of years for the company.

More action and less promising

Analysis – Daniel Wills

Premier Steven Marshall wants under-promising and over-delivering to be a hallmark of his new government and is urging people to judge it by what it does, rather than what it says.

Perhaps nowhere will that test be more visible than at the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site.

It has been apparent for more than a decade, since the great shift from one end of North Tce to the other was announced, that there would be a golden opportunity on the huge city block that’s now referred to as Lot Fourteen.

With health services shifting out, a prime site nestled between the Botanic Gardens and universities became a blank canvas to be painted.

Walking around the site this week, it’s very apparent that things are changing.

Demolition of buildings that are past their use-by date and the refit of iconic heritage buildings on the corner of North Tce and Frome Rd, started under the former government, continues apace.

A smattering of techies toil away at computers, workmen were preparing for today’s Google event and the shell of an office for a chief entrepreneur is taking shape. A long-delayed tram occasionally rolls past, in testing for the unknown day when it will take actual passengers.

Infrastructure plays a very important part in SA’s politics. Labor for years made great play of the revolution on the Riverbank as evidence it was “building SA” and moving the state forward. Similarly, the vacant Le Cornu lot in North Adelaide became a sign of stagnation.

For people unsure of what a government is actually achieving, seeing is believing as structures like Adelaide Oval, a big battery or desal plant become symbols of priorities and progress.

Mr Marshall has mapped out a clear plan for what he wants to achieve at the old RAH, while constantly stressing he wants to keep a lid on his own excitement and public expectations. He says there’s a clear weariness across an SA community that’s seen PR spin like the Olympic Dam expansion or Gillman gas hub come to nothing, with political “overspruiking”.

Mr Marshall’s pledge at the election was for a business start-up hub, new international culinary school and Aboriginal art and culture gallery at the old RAH. All are supposed to be started by the next election. There’s also now hope the new Australian space agency, and serious commercial businesses from across the globe, could take major footprints there.

It will be easy for people to judge success or failure, simply by having their own poke around at a massive public site on a major city boulevard that’s just impossible to hide.