BALLARAT could take a big step this week to becoming regional Victoria’s premier business innovation precinct.
Ballarat City Council will vote Wednesday night on setting up an Innovation/Research and Development Centre at the Ballarat West Employment Zone.
If given the go-ahead, the centre will help transform Ballarat’s manufacturing base.
The council will vote on signing a memorandum of understanding with the Victorian Centre for Advanced Materials Manufacturing, which has already established one of the centres.
If the council agrees to the MOU, funding will then be sought from state and federal governments to build the centre.
In a report to the council, economic development officer Leon Underwood said the centre would provide Ballarat with “significant economic benefits”.
“VCAMM are a key partner to the Victorian state government in developing strategies to ensure the continued evolution of the Victorian manufacturing sector,” Mr Underwood said in his report.
VCAMM is a not-for-profit organisation helping with technology development and commercialisation for manufacturing businesses.
It is also supported by a consortium of public research and development organisations.
Mr Underwood said manufacturing is Ballarat’s third largest employment sector behind retail and health, contributing $3.8 billion to the local economy.
“These figures emphasise the continuing importance of manufacturing as a strategic sector for the future growth of the Ballarat economy.
“The robust nature of Ballarat’s manufacturing industry and its capacity to add value regionally means that manufacturing can consolidate Ballarat’s role as the capital of western Victoria and as a high tech and knowledge based economy.”
The report also said transformation of Ballarat’s manufacturing base required a dedicated specialist research and development facility.
It said the VCAMM centre would “lead change, assist start-up business, leverage investment and facilitate commercialisation of new ideas”.
“The partnership is strategically important, as it places Ballarat as a key centre for the development of emerging industries driven by research and development practices.”