Feature

Creating a Knowledge Capital

With institutions and innovators across sectors from health and medical to science and engineering, education, business and technology, it’s easy to see why Melbourne has emerged as the knowledge capital and innovation hub of Australia.

As the city opens and debuts a new knowledge partnership programme, Melbourne is proving to be a progressive destination that offers access to world-leading institutions—as well as assistance in planning a safe event for delegates attending from around the globe. As Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) Chief Executive Julia Swanson puts it: “We can highlight the importance of your meeting on a global scale – and put the spotlight on research and developments within your association.”

6-star sustainability 

The coastal capital of the south-eastern Australian state of Victoria, Melbourne is known for its stunning shoreline and scenic drives that lead to wildlife like penguins, landmarks like the limestone Twelve Apostles, and wine regions like the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula. But Melbourne is also home to one of the world’s leading biomedical precincts, as well as the South East Melbourne Innovation Precinct—the innovation, business and knowledge capital of the Asia Pacific region. And now, with more than 350 annual events per year, Melbourne is considered Australia’s major events capital. 

The city centre sits just a 25-minute drive away from Melbourne Airport, which offers 24/7 access, as well as 568 direct international routes. The public transport system in Victoria is helping to lower Melbourne’s carbon footprint by reducing more than 80,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year. 

Not only does Melbourne boast the highest concentration of conference facilities in Australia, it’s home to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) —the largest in Australia and one of the largest spaces in the southwestern hemisphere. MCEC is the first in the world to be awarded a 6-Star Green Star environment rating by the Green Building Council of Australia, thanks to its innovative environmental design and operational features that help divert landfill waste and eliminate single-use plastic. Aligning with associations’ personal sustainability goals, Swanson adds that “legacies are as important to the city as they are to the client, so we focus on delivering powerful legacies aligned with the core purpose of the association, lasting beyond the event itself.”

Knowledge city

Melbourne has developed a reputation for its collaborative spirit, particularly in the fields of technology, engineering and education. The city is home to two, top 100 global universities, 12 world-class research institutes, 10 major teaching hospitals, and a number of industry leaders. Melbourne brings together its academic institutions and research and medical centres at its three knowledge precincts: the Biomedical Precinct, the South East Melbourne Innovation Precinct (SEIMP), and the Northern Precinct. The Melbourne Biomedical Precinct is one of the leading in the world and encompasses more than 40 hospitals, research, teaching and biotechnology organisations. It’s where you’ll find Melbourne’s first—and Australia’s leading—university, the University of Melbourne; Australia’s largest pharmaceutical company, CSL; and Australia’s oldest medical research institute, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI)

University of Melbourne

SEIMP is just 25 kilometres from the city centre and features 40% of Victoria’s manufacturing activities, as well as 56,000 registered manufacturing, retail and property businesses. The Northern Precinct, in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, meanwhile, comprises eight major research and technology institutions, including the Centre for AgriBioscience (Agribio), Health Innovations Research Institute at RMIT, and the Alfred Medical Research and Education Precinct (AMREP). 

Progressive partnerships

Following the philosophy that knowledge is a powerful currency in contemporary economies, MCB is aiding in the development of a robust knowledge community by establishing a new Knowledge Partnership programme, which unites a range of organisations and thinkers, including Doherty InstituteAusBiotechBurnet InstituteBio21 InstituteSwinburne University of Technology and RMIT University. As Swanson explains, “MCB partners with Victoria’s knowledge community to amplify Melbourne’s global position as a knowledge capital and support ongoing knowledge exchange and development of local talent. Our partnerships advocate for strengthening global networks and engagement across industry and academia.”

For example, over the past decade, Professor Sharon Lewin, director of Doherty Institute—a joint venture between the University of Melbourne and the Royal Melbourne Hospital—has worked together with MCB to secure bids for international events in the city, and says the MCB Knowledge Program “provides a platform for us to attract the biggest and best international conferences to Melbourne and place our world-leading research on the global stage, develop connections to academics to facilitate strong education programs, powerful knowledge sharing and foster world-leading innovations. When I think back to AIDS 2014 for example — to the incredible ‘Team Melbourne’ [business development and bid process support] approach steered by MCB to bring this event to our city, and some of the most significant lasting legacies that have changed and improved the lives of people effected with HIV around the globe as a result, the true value of a knowledge partnership is realised.”

RMIT Executive Director, Business Development and Partnerships, Adam Seedsman, adds: “RMIT has joined MCB as a knowledge partner exploring mutually beneficial opportunities that showcase our world class research, innovations and talent on a global scale, while contributing to Victoria’s visitor economy.”

Rapid recovery

COVID may have put a temporary pause last year on the city’s status as host, but Melbourne is coming out of the pandemic in 2022 stronger than ever. With more than 90% of eligible residents fully vaccinated, the state of Victoria sports one of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the world. Melbourne is now operating as a “vaccinated economy,” meaning events are occurring with health and safety precautions in place. 

In addition to venues adhering to their own COVID-safe plan, which is relayed to planners, MCB launched a Safe Events Melbourne  microsite with information about Coronavirus updates and travel advice, so planners can see how venues, hotels and public transport are ensuring a safe experience for visiting delegates. 

With its safety-first approach to business events and MCB’s end-to-end service from bidding to support, the city offers associations a wealth of attractions and access to knowledge sharing and resources from Melbourne’s many strong education programmes and institutions.

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