9 May 2016


Delegates on the US-Australia City Exchange on Innovation Ecosystems, presented by the Future Cities Collaborative, an initiative of the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, were today immersed in three different innovation precincts, each offering different perspectives to learn from.

The first stop was over the Bay Bridge to the mid-sized City of Emeryville, located on the East Bay and home to Pixar Animation studios and a range of biotech, medical and software companies, where the group met Charlie Bryant, Community Development Director for the City of Emeryville.

“The little city that could”, as described by Mayor Dianne Martinez, is a remarkable story of transformation from a declining industrial city of 3km2 to a thriving hub of innovation. Emeryville is a centre for regional employment, home to 11,000 citizens, a workforce of 20,000 and with connections to three world-class universities of University of California Berkeley, Stanford University, and University of California San Francisco (UCSF).

Mayor of Emeryville, Dianne Martinez, addressing the delegation

The intermodal transport centre at EmeryStation, created through a public private alliance, which was the first new railway station constructed in 60 years, was central to Emeryville's success. It provides links to interstate and city transit systems plus the local Emery Go-Round, seeing over 100,000 passengers pass through the station each day.



Conceived by Wareham Development, EmeryStation Campus, a multi-tenanted, mixed-use campus, is at the heart of the Emeryville innovation ecosystem. It provides 12 “distinguished buildings for noble and Nobel scientists” as passionate citizen and CEO of Wareham Development, Rich Robbins described. The series of pre-certified LEED GOLD state-of-the-art research and development buildings provide public and private groups unique opportunities to collaborate, share resources and learn from each other.

Rich Robbins, CEO of Wareham Development; Jed Gunn, from the Tonsley Redevelopment in South Australia; and Simon Manoski, Bankstown; in EmeryStation Campus East

EmeryStation East has become the acknowledged centre of clean energy and anchors the EmeryStation campus to the east while providing much-needed research space for the East Bay Biotech Corridor in life, physical and nano sciences. With Rich Robbins and Judy Wetterer, Communications Director at Wareham Development, we explored the myriad of companies growing here including the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) and Nano Precision Medical

Nano Precision Medical co-founders, Adam Mendelsohn, Kate Fisher and Rich Robbins                   Joint BioEnergy Institute scientist

This transformation and the continued growth of the City is underpinned by a consistently aligned political vision for the new Emeryville, together with a strong desire to collaborate with private partners who are in it for the long term.

San Francisco’s Mission Bay district, in contrast, is a large master planned precinct, anchored by the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). It was also an old industrial precinct, and is set to create more than 30,000 new permanent jobs, in addition to hundreds of ongoing construction jobs. Development began in 2000 and will take place over 20 to 30 years. The total development cost for Mission Bay is expected to exceed $4 billion USD.

Michelle E. de Guzman‚Ä®, Development Specialist from the Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure, led us on a walking tour of the area. The precinct is connected by transit through Muni’s new Third Street Light Rail system, bus lines and the regional-serving rail Caltrain. This will support the new UCSF research campus containing 246,000m2 of building space on 17 hectares of land donated by the master developer and the City, as well as the future UCSF Hospital Complex and the development of office, life science and biotechnology commercial space.

With such a long development horizon, key elements of the precinct are being planned to create a thriving place including 6000 new housing units of which 28% are affordable, a new 500-student public school with STEM curriculum, a new public library, new fire and police stations and other community facilities.

Michelle de Guzman leading the group on a walking tour of Mission Bay District

Finally, the day concluded with a different waterfront experience at Hunters Point Shipyard and Candlestick Point, which comprises 700 acres of decommissioned naval shipyards along San Francisco’s south-eastern shore which has an existing artist and African American local community. The integrated development project conducted by Lennar Corporation is an ambitious and significant project designed to provide market-rate and affordable housing, green space, civic amenities, commercial and retail space, and an Urban Innovation District which will be an incubator for new businesses and a space for artists and makers. A partnership with San Francisco State University (SFSU) will bring innovation and the arts into conversation together.

Creative, Curiosity, Community

Kofi Bonner, nonresident senior fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings and Director at Lennar Corporation, and his team illuminated their vision for the master planned precinct that is built on the philosophy of “How do we build for change?”. With such a long development program, Kofi explained that it is vital to future-proof the planning process to “ensure that we are putting the right components in place and that they are coming together at the right time."

Kofi Bonner, nonresident senior fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings and Director of Urban Land at Lennar Corporation

This approach has shaped all aspects of the development. Places have been planned to facilitate the collision of ideas that are needed for innovation including selecting a technology partner to help shape a high tech mode of living and working; providing 1000GB fibre to homes; developing smart community and smart home applications; securing an education anchor and local curriculums to attract innovators and, importantly, to develop the STEM skills and knowledge in the local community; and forging partnerships with utility providers to develop an eco-district to provide alternative energy systems to power the precinct.

“As all of these components come together they will spawn the innovation district,” said Kofi.

Kofi Bonner, Cheryl, Jaqui and Kate from Lennar Corporation; Charles Bryant, City of Emeryville; and the delegation

So, the group has examined three different examples of innovation precincts in San Francisco and East Bay each with different catalysts and time horizons for development. Tomorrow, we will see what’s happening in Seattle.

Thank you to all of our San Francisco partners for generously hosting our delegation

Sponsored by: AECOM



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