The last 12 months – which marked the Committee’s 30th anniversary – have been an exciting and productive time for the Committee with some key policy wins. At the end of the year, Kate Roffey moved on from her role as Chief Executive after almost four years of outstanding contribution and spearheading some significant wins for Melbourne, particularly in the infrastructure space. Kate has left big shoes to fill, so we are thrilled to have Martine Letts commence in the role on the 1st of March. An accomplished executive with more than 15 years’ experience in leadership roles in the not‐for‐profit and international policy sectors, she has extensive experience through her previous work at the Australia China Business Council, the Lowy Institute, the Australian Red Cross and as a senior Australian diplomat. In the interim, Sander van Amelsvoort has taken on the role of Acting CEO and during this transition period, the Committee Communiqué will be a fortnightly eNewsletter with the next issue on the 18th of February. Great cities do not happen by chance, so we look forward to continuing to work with our Members to make 2016 another successful year for Melbourne.
LaunchVic board appointed
On 29 January, Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade, Philip Dalidakis, announced the appointed members of the LaunchVic board. This $60 million fund will help push our state towards a more innovative economy as it continues to transition. It will support the startup ecosystem in Victoria by improving access to capital for startups, advocating on federal legislation, regulation and mentoring programs, as well as providing the right environment for entrepreneurs to develop, incubate and grow early-stage innovative businesses. While in recent years Australia has lost promising companies to well established startup communities overseas, LaunchVic is just the kind of initiative that we need to drive new ideas and create new jobs. We must continue to build on our strength as a knowledge economy that embraces and capitalises on innovation, while harnessing the full human potential of its quality workforce and entrepreneurs.
Value capture is a sensible funding mechanism
One of the Turnbull Government’s key proposals for funding much needed transport infrastructure, value capture, is being challenged by the Shopping Centre Council of Australia. Since the launch of our infrastructure funding and financing paper Moving Melbourne in 2012, the Committee has continued to push for the need to look at innovative ways of increasing the infrastructure funding pool via a range of mechanisms, including value capture. International and domestic experience shows that in cases where there is a clear and demonstrable link between the levy that beneficiaries pay and the improvements they see in return, value capture mechanisms can be used with great success. Indeed, value capture is not new – we have successfully applied it when we built the City Loop. There is a tendency to shy away from conversations around benefited area levies, developer contribution charges or business rates supplements, but it's a conversation we need to continue to have. In cases where there are indirect benefits realised from an uplift in value due to infrastructure improvements, we should be considering how both direct and indirect beneficiaries can sensibly make a contribution.
World-first medical innovation
In a significant breakthrough in the fight against leukaemia, Melbourne’s medical researchers have shown that patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia can achieve complete remission with a new tablet treatment. The results from this world-first clinical trial have shown it was effective in treating leukaemia, with close to 80 per cent of patients responding positively to the drug, while 20 per cent went into complete remission. Two Committee for Melbourne members – The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute – have both played an integral role in this clinical trial and have excelled once again at placing Melbourne on the global health research stage. These kind of initiatives play a vital role in Melbourne’s continued positioning as a global centre for research and bio-health innovation and at a time when our economy is facing a number of pressures, it is more important than ever to invest in our R&D capabilities and enable the innovative industries of the future.
Arup's digital studios
In a bid to capitalise on the power of data in the built environment, Committee for Melbourne member Arup will bring ‘digital studios’ to Australia. Wanting to examine how people use and interact with technology, this ‘critical last link in the chain’ will enable them to leverage the technological advances revolutionising infrastructure development – such as self-driving cars – and develop innovative solutions. The emergence of ‘on demand’ bus services, such as Singapore’s Beeline and the Boston Bridj, which analyse crowd-sourced data to identify how many people need a bus and where they want to go, is influencing how Arup thinks about designing roads in and out of university campuses for example. Using data to improve infrastructure is a critical capability that Melbourne needs in order to become a world-leading smart city.