DutchSA organised a conference call with the development directors of Tonsley and Brainport to initiate a process of knowledge sharing. Brainport was represented by Joep Brouwers (development director), Tonsley by Philipp Dautel (development director) and Terry Burgess (Tonsley project chair, and member of the economic development board for South Australia). The call was also attended by the University of Adelaide (Anton Middelberg, Executive Dean of the science and technology faculty) and facilitated by DutchSA (Frank Weits and Edwin Roman).
Joep answered questions and talked us through some inspiring history. After the close down of traditional manufacturing industries, government, municipalities, companies and universities in the Eindhoven region (with the Philips High Tech Campus) worked closely together in a 'triple helix' approach to turn around the region. An approach so successful that Brainport is now the #1 European region for innovation strategy and one of the 3 European regions attracting most foreign investments and companies in the whole of Europe.
The biggest problem for Brainport is now attracting enough international knowledge workers to fill the many research and development jobs in the region. Eindhoven registers more patents per capita than the 3 runners up together (San Francisco, San Diego and Malmo) and has been named the smartest city in the world.
In conclusion this shows that Tonsley could be in the early stages of a very similar path, and that continued focus of government, industry and knowledge institutions over a long period can result in a world class innovation district. It is great to share insights and opportunities with one of the development leaders of the smartest region in the world and we intend to keep doing that.