‘Important first step’ for hi-tech precinct

The Latrobe Valley’s purpose-built ‘hi-tech precinct’ will be operational by 2020, Premier Daniel Andrews has revealed.

Little light has been shone on the operational details of the state-of-the-art facility since it was announced in April’s state budget as part of the Latrobe Valley’s $40 million transition package.

However progress appears to have been made with the government, Federation Training, Federation University and tenant Fujitsu today signing a Memorandum of Understanding.

Mr Andrews said the signing of the MoU was an “important first step” to a partnership between government, education providers and industry as the region looks to transition.

Based at Federation Training’s Morwell site, the precinct will include the soon-to-be-built Morwell Tech School and an innovation facility, featuring laboratories and office spaces for industrial research.

Mr Andrews said Fujitsu was looking to drive an “open innovation laboratory” where Gippsland’s research, business and education communities could access the company’s computer and data analytic capacities.

He said the purpose-built facility would have “everything required to attract exciting new business and jobs” to Morwell and the greater Latrobe Valley.

“This is all about making sure those industries of the future can have a strong place in the Latrobe Valley… the economic diversification that we often talk about for Morwell and the greater Latrobe Valley,” he said.

Mr Andrews said construction of the technical school would begin next year and be completed by early 2018, while the “flagship building” would begin construction in 2018, to be concluded in 2019.

“The construction alone will create 80 jobs and we aim to ensure as may of those are local as possible,” he said.

Industry, Employment and Resource Minister Wade Noonan said the community could expect a precinct that would help create pathways for young people as they transition from education into the workforce.

“What’s most important about this is this concept originated here in the Valley, and that’s why it will be a success. … I’ve very excited about the opportunities that will come in the coming months and years as this precinct starts to take shape,” Mr Noonan said.

He said the precinct would look at the region’s strengths, with food and fibre, looking at health, new energy technologies and professional services areas of interest.

“What we would expect to see here when its built is multi partners, industry and training providers working here together towards job creation, economic diversification and, of course, innovation,” Mr Noonan said.