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Campus News : March 2013
ollongong has two billion reasons to say it is now a major university city with an economic future increasingly focused on the knowledge economy. A University of Wollongong (UOW) study, the methodology of which was independently verified by Deloitte Access Economics, shows that UOW activities generate over $2 billion in economic activity each year, with most occurring in Wollongong and the Illawarra region. The study, UOW: Leading Locally, Competing Globally, by UOW's Centre for Small Business and Regional Research (CSBRR), examined UOW's role as an economic driving force leading Australia's ninth largest city to a diversified economic future from its previous reliance on steel manufacturing and coal mining. The report shows that the University's activities generate almost 8000 jobs and $607 million in household income, and contribute $1.12 billion to Gross Domestic Product annually. In the Illawarra, UOW-related expenditure generates 4908 jobs annually from operations, capital investment, including construction and maintenance, student expenditure including day-to-day living expenses for domestic and international students, and visitor expenditure from graduation ceremonies, conferences, tourism at UOW's Science Centre and special events. Based on the $298 million UOW received in Federal Government funding in 2011, the study also concludes that every $1 in Federal Government investment in UOW, leveraged by revenues from other sources, results in $7 in overall economic output annually. UOW also contributes significantly to the nation's human capital development, with UOW graduates adding another $1.34 billion to the national economy through increased wages and additional taxes. UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings said the study provided compelling evidence of Wollongong's emergence as a university city. "The steel industry underpinned the regional economy for most of the 20th century, but in the 21st century it is clear that the University of Wollongong also is a major driver of economic activity and employment opportunities in the region. The contribution of the University is still growing," Professor Wellings said. "Interestingly, this University has its origins as a technical college established to service the steel industry. This relationship has blossomed into a world-class university essential to the longer term future of the regional economy." Professor Wellings said that, apart from REPORT SHOWS UOW DRIVING TRANSFORMATION measuring UOW's substantial current economic contribution, the report also highlighted the increasingly important role UOW will play in driving a longer term structural transformation in the economy of its home region. "We have the expertise, capacity and global connections to help fundamentally transform this region. Our research is generating innovation and business growth opportunities, and our graduates are some of the most sought after in the marketplace," he said. Professor Wellings points to three related factors that he believes can be leveraged to position Wollongong as a genuine participant in the global knowledge economy over the coming decades. "Firstly, the University of Wollongong produces the second highest number of information technology graduates of any Australian university. We are developing a huge knowledge worker skills base at UOW, and we want as many of these graduates as possible to stay in Wollongong and continue enjoying the great lifestyle and beautiful natural environment, but to add a great job to that list of reasons to stay!" he said. "Secondly, our Innovation Campus in North Wollongong represents some of the finest research and high tech infrastructure in the nation. We are attracting multi-national tenants from as far away as India," he said. "Thirdly, add in the fact that Wollongong is one of the first major regions in Australia to benefit from the roll-out of the National Broadband Network, and one can start to see a longer-term vision emerging for a very bright future in the global knowledge economy." Professor Wellings said that the University is working very closely with other regional bodies to solidify the vision. "We have been partnering with Wollongong City Council, Regional Development Australia and the NSW Department of Trade and Investment on an action plan for developing a vision for a sustainable 'Innovation and Technology Ecosystem' in the Wollongong region that can be globally competitive," he said. The centrepiece of the vision is a catalytic UOW- led project called iAccelerate, which aims to sow the seeds of a high-tech industry cluster within the region. UOW has established mentoring ties with the University of Waterloo in Canada, which has a remarkably similar history to Wollongong, to help shorten the initial learning curve. "Waterloo has been extremely successful in developing a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation that has utterly transformed a once depressed industrial, working-class town into a vibrant city that is the information technology engine room of the Canadian economy. While Wollongong is some way off realising the lofty achievements of Waterloo, the similarities between the regions are remarkable and provide great inspiration for Wollongong as it looks to a new economic future," he said. Continued on Page 4. W The economic contribution report's key authors Associate Professor Charles Harvie (left) and Brad Braithwaite (standing) with Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings (second from left) and Executive Dean of Business Professor John Glynn. MARCH 2013 CONNECT: UOW 3 CONNECT: NEWS ONTRIBUTION