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WA's Perth to be the Aussie Silicon Valley?

Western Australia is to sport Australia's own Silicon Valley, according to state Industry and Enterprise Minister Francis Logan, who yesterday revealed the country's biggest technology park will be based in Perth.
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Written by Suzanne Tindal on

Western Australia is to sport Australia's own Silicon Valley, according to state Industry and Enterprise Minister Francis Logan, who yesterday revealed the country's biggest technology park will be based in Perth.

Proposed precinct design Credit: WA Minister Francis Logan's office

"It will be Australia's Silicon Valley — but with soul," he said in a statement.

The Western Australian ICT industry is worth AU$4 billion annually, according to a spokesperson for the Minister's office, and has been identified as one of the four industries that has real potential to grow.

The site of the future park already houses an existing business hub — Bentley Technology Park. It is a 42 hectare development in which 60 percent of the companies are ICT related businesses. The park is "chockas" according to the spokesperson. Yesterday's announcement will see the government invest AU$8.55 million on infrastructure requirements for a larger park of 314 hectares.

AU$2.2 million alone will be spent on a high-speed fibre network linked to the CBD. This fibre network will initially allow speeds of 1Gbps but will later be upgraded to 10Gbps.

The new park has already attracted tenants such as IBM, defence specialists Raytheon, as well as four gaming development companies including US based company Interzone.

Part of the reason companies would choose to have premises in the park is the lifestyle, according to the Minister.

"The precinct will become a lifestyle, integrating people, business, technology and education within an energetic and vibrant environment," the Minister said in a statement.

Proposed precinct design Credit: WA Minister Francis Logan's Office

There will be cafes, bars and restaurants which will not go dead when everyone goes home, unlike in Silicon Valley, the spokesperson said, because the new business park includes plans for dwellings to house 10 to 15 thousand people: "It'll be like a little city."

Another reason to rent space in the park is the available graduates from Perth's universities, the spokesperson said. A lot of graduates when they finish their degrees head east or overseas to get jobs, the spokesperson continued. Companies have decided to use that potential, the spokesperson said, thinking: "There is actually a source of labour here, why wouldn't we tap into it?"

One of the biggest reasons for companies to be in the park is that they will be around like minded people, and can share infrastructure and ideas, the spokesperson said.

The park is 15 minutes travel from Perth CBD. Having such a large park so close to the city was made possible by land being set aside years ago, the spokesperson said, adding that such an undertaking would not be possible in congested cities such as Sydney or Melbourne.

Part of the land to be used for the park comes from Curtin University, which will be heavily involved in the project, according to the spokesperson, saying it will help link research and industry.

The Vice-Chancellor of Curtin University Professor Jeanette Hacket, said the precinct provided an opportunity for students and graduates to work with the ICT sector, helping communication on employment opportunities.

"On an international level, universities that have collaborated with technology precincts in the past have been highly successful in delivering strong technological outcomes," Hacket said in a statement.

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