From the CEO, November 2019

Published:

October was a month of connecting and reconnecting with our international networks. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s visit to Australia was an opportunity for participants in the 2018 Smart Urban Solutions Study Tour to report on what we had actioned since our visit to The Netherlands.

Pleasingly, I was able to speak about the Smart City workshop we held last November in conjunction with Shell Australia and the City of Perth. This will be an ongoing area of focus for us so I was also glad to meet with Dutch mobility consultant Marco Marechal during his visit to Perth.

I was fortunate to participate in the inaugural CXWA Beijing Business Discovery Tour as part of our Hashtag Perth project. The program included site visits and briefings with leading technology organisations such as smart-phone and smart-device company Xiaomi, internet provider Baidu, eCommerce giant JDCom and car manufacturer Nio. We also visited several innovation and technology precincts which have a focus on commercial development to drive economic growth and job creation.

We saw the clever deployment of robotics in warehousing, street sweeping and even restaurants. One robot cooked stir-fried cabbage (which was delicious) and another selected our food from the chiller for a hot-pot dinner.

Delegations of this kind build connections between cities, organisations and people. Mark Pownall from Business News and I headed off one morning before dawn to walk 8.2kms from the hotel around the walls of the Forbidden City just as Beijing was waking up. A rare opportunity to enjoy some quiet in a city of 22 million people.

We were also fortunate enough to spend a few hours within the walls of the Forbidden City one morning, and on the Sunday before the program officially started a few of us made the pilgrimage to see a small section of the Great Wall. Both were highly memorable experiences.

Led in part by respected business journalist Xiuying Feng, who became known as ‘Mama’, we had access that I imagine is not usually afforded to a western delegation. I am incredibly privileged to have been part of this unique learning experience. It demonstrated to me that China has transformed from a nation of copycats into leaders in technology who are leapfrogging traditional developers.

From Beijing I travelled to Singapore for interviews and a focus group also for our Hashtag Perth project. The findings clearly show that people choose Singapore as a place to live because of its international focus, high quality of life and abundant opportunities. Everyone I met with is fond of Perth and see opportunities for a diversification of our economy, they also want to see a strengthening of the region’s innovation ecosystem.

Speaking of innovation, we have released the last FACTBase Bulletin in the Hashtag Perth project on the subject. It has revealed Perth’s Top 5 Local Government Areas are the Cities of Perth, Stirling, Nedlands, South Perth and Melville.

Innovation and entrepreneurship were central to the discussion I attended with the British High Commissioner Vicki Treadell and a number of female founders. I was fortunate to MC the lunch for the British Consulate; aside from quizzing Her Excellency on her career journey, we also discussed world affairs and entry strategies for WA based companies looking to do business in the UK.

Late in October the Federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure, Alan Tudge co-hosted a City Deals forum with Minister for Transport and Planning, Rita Saffioti. I was pleased to attend the meeting with other Perth stakeholders including the City, all the universities, Property Council, UDIA and the Chamber for the Arts and Culture to name a few. Overwhelmingly there was support for a deal to be focused on the CBD that would be transformational in terms of significantly growing the resident population, adding vibrancy and vitality and increasing connectivity.

In closing I’d like to congratulate two members of our team who have recently received promotions. Researcher Alice Leggett has taken on additional responsibilities in the communications area and is now Research & Communications Officer. Alice recently published her first FACTBase Bulletin – Who is Perth?. Hayley Campbell, who started as a graduate, has been promoted to Research Officer. Hayley is busy working on a 2020 FACTBase Special Report with our Consultant Researcher Gemma Davis which will detail some of Perth’s challenges as a low density region.

During November I plan to stay close to home as we start the process of shaping the final report and draft recommendations for Hashtag Perth.

Marion Fulker
CEO
Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, UWA


Other articles from Insight, November 2019 (view email newsletter):