Innovation and Collaboration Space of the Year Award

The Swinburne Fire Station – Swinburne’s Innovation Precinct Hub

Finalist of the Innovation and Collaboration Space of the Year Award

"Sparking Innovation and Fuelling Growth through Collaboration, Creativity and Know-how"

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Swinburne University of Technology has a focus on innovation and delivering impact from its research findings. This mission is actively progressed in a number of innovative ways including the creation of its Innovation Precinct hub – The Swinburne Fire Station - with a remit to: engage and build a culture of innovation with staff and students across the university’s faculties and research centres; upskill and grow enterprise; and connect innovators with industry and investors to enable the rapid scale-up of research-led ideas into real-world solutions. Uniquely this hub combines various elements to enhance effectiveness including: The Innovation Precinct Team; the Design Factory Melbourne (DFM) Team; a thriving start-up community including Swinburne’s new and rapidly growing start-up The Data Experience; and an Amazon Web Services Cloud Innovation Centre (AWS CIC) with a focus on Data for Social Good projects. Rounding out the Innovation Precinct and inter-connected with the Fire Station are the Factory of the Future – a hub for industry exploration of new technologies and digital connectivity; and the Digital Innovation Lab – a lab focussed on the translation of digital research into impactful outcomes.
In the Swinburne Fire Station two commentary teams, the Innovation Precinct team and the DFM team, work side by side to encourage innovative ventures to thrive. The Innovation Precinct Team host various programs supporting the creation of new ventures. DFM, one of the founding members of Design Factory Global Network, a network of 27 Design Factories around the world, focus on the creation and early validation of new ideas. Supporting DFM’s work is another unique feature of the Fire Station, being a permanent video link to Global Network and other collaborators around the world. DFM’s main activities are geared towards community engagement for fostering innovation culture, innovation and design thinking programs for all Swinburne students, interdisciplinary research and short-term skill development and training.

Key People

Prof. Aleksandar Subic
Deputy Vice-chancellor – Research and Enterprise
Swinburne Research,  Swinburne University of Technology

Dr. Andrew J Smith
Vice President (Students)
Office of the VP Students,  Swinburne University of Technology

Prof. Matthew Cuthbertson
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Commercialisation)
Swinburne Research,  Swinburne University of Technology

Prof. Anita Kocsis
Director – Design Factory Melbourne Faculty
Faculty of Health Arts and Design,  Swinburne University of Technology

Prof. Sally McArthur
CSIRO Research+ Science Leader in Biomedical Manufacturing
Faculty of Science, Engineering and Technology,  Swinburne University of Technology

Further key people


The wider Swinburne University community, the Swinburne Innovation Precinct Advisory Board and the many other businesses, investors and advisors, and community and research organisations, locally and globally, that have teamed up with us to deliver impact.


The Swinburne Fire Station

Industry Presentations and Networking within the Fire Station

Workshops within The Fire Station

Design Factory Melbourne Workshops

Teaching Learning and Prototyping

Venture Cup - Accelerating New Business Ventures

Start-up Hub - Hot desking Office space and Mentoring

Kitchen Global Virtual Link and Local Networking Space

Embedded Industry The Data Experience and Amazon Web Services CIC


Impacting lifes

The Swinburne Fire Station has provided a platform for the emergence of many new business initiatives through its programs and connection to networks. Perhaps one of the most profound of these is a start-up business that now acts as a key pillar of activity within the Fire Station itself, The Data Experience. The brain-child of two Swinburne staff, this business was built on an idea sparked at a conference they attended in the US just over 2 years ago. It has rapidly grown in the Swinburne Fire Station and is now looking at ways to expand on the initial model. The Data Experience has developed an innovative way of working with students in the 3rd year of their degrees at Swinburne, that combines a boot camp, certifications, and industry placements, to develop data analysis and visualisation skills, problem solving, communication, presentation, team building and leadership skills, that better equips students with skills for their digital work future. Students are considered employees of The Data Experience acting as junior consultants following their 10 week boot camp program, progressing to real world work placements with collaborating industry partners. The Data Experience is a great example of innovation and creating real world impact through growing work ready and industry relevant employees and collaborating with industry and across the university to deliver wonderful results.


Lessons learned

Set a clear vision for what you want to achieve from the outset and track you progress closely.

Be ambitious and innovative, collaborate and take risks.

Seek out partners that align with your vision and build relationships on trust and integrity. Work together as a team not as a transaction.

Lead with passion, positivity and openness. All are contagious and people will want a part of it.


What's coming?

All of the pieces are now in place and are already achieving great results. We will now work to expand networks locally and globally to achieve greater impact and continue to build internal collaboration across the university and reaching out to community.

The Swinburne Fire Station has rapidly grown in reputation leading to the harnessing of two new global innovation programs for 2020 and 2021. In July 2020, Swinburne in partnership with the United Nation Association of Australia (UNAA) will launch the first Asia Pac UN SDG Accelerator Program to advance innovation in social impact. Eight teams will be selected from universities across the Asia Pacific region to develop businesses that focus on solving SDG challenges. In 2021, the Fire Station will host the Codex World’s Top 50 Innovators Conference, the first time the event will be held outside of London.



Industry Partnered Research and Development Projects


Major events hosted in the Fire Station each week


Staff, students and business people participating

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