The strengths of Kogarah as a Health and Education Precinct are being put under the microscope in a bid to attract future investors.
Georges River Council has endorsed its Draft Kogarah Investment Strategy to identify opportunities available to attract businesses to the Kogarah Health and Education Hub.
The strategy aims to build on Kogarah's existing strengths as an established health precinct.
With this in mind, the council engaged consultants Deloitte to develop an Investment Attraction Strategy for Kogarah to guide the expansion of investment and employment in the sectors of health, education and innovation.
The strategy builds on Kogarah's existing strengths and advantages compared to other precincts.
It identifies that there are a number of opportunities for the development of a Kogarah Health, Education and Innovation Precinct (HEIP).
To do this, the strategy suggestions a number of recommendations for the council to pursue.
It recommends Kogarah should be established as a precinct for "four R's" in medical expertise: Recovery, Rehabilitation, Restoration and Regenerative medicine.
- Recovery is for Kogarah's walkability to a number of open space and natural environment areas making it ideal for patients to recover in a pleasant and recovery-enhancing environment.
- Rehabilitation is for Kogarah's rehabilitation services and allied health services for patients recovering from surgery.
- Restoration is to highlight the area's services for patients recovering from serious injury including acute care, mental health and relationship support.
- Regenerative represents the new technology frontier, enabling patients to strengthen their normal function of cells, tissues and organs. This is a current research focus of the UNSW Clinical School at St George Public Hospital.
The strategy identifies that there are a number of opportunities for the development of a Kogarah Health, Education and Innovation Precinct (HEIP).
To do this, the strategy suggests a number of recommendations for the council to pursue.
The council should develop a Kogarah alliance between finance, education, research and government and service groups.
It should investigate the potential for a university campus and faculty in Kogarah including an international university.
And it should investigate the scope for an international school to boost Kogarah's education precinct and explore opportunities for the development of a hotel, short-term accommodation, and student accommodation in Kogarah.
Finally, it should establish opportunities for interlinking health and financial services through pursuing the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and NSW iCare.
Georges River Council mayor Kevin Greene said that the strategy provides a detailed analysis of Kogarah's strengths and the opportunities that these present.
"The Draft Kogarah Investment Attraction Strategy has identified a strong positioning for the development of a HEIP based on Kogarah's current health and education landscape and the area's demographics," Councillor Greene said.
"The Strategy draws upon recent findings from Deloitte highlighting the importance of soft skills such as empathy and caring for others as crucial to the future of work, given that automation, robotics and artificial intelligence will perform most manual tasks in the future.
"Kogarah is well placed to respond to this shift, with over 50 per cent of jobs in the area already within the health care and social assistance sectors.
"There are a number of exciting opportunities outlined in the Strategy, such as the establishment of Kogarah as a wellness precinct centred on recovery, rehabilitation, restoration and regenerative medicine," Cr Greene said.
The development of the Strategy coincides with the opening of the $13.5 million Microbiome Research Centre (MRC) in Kogarah on August 9.
Considered an Australian-first, the centre, which is dedicated to studying gut health, is a collaboration between the St George & Sutherland Medical Research Foundation, University of NSW and the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District.
The MRC puts Kogarah's research presence on the map, and highlights the strong partnerships and collaboration between hospitals and researchers in Kogarah and across the globe.
The Draft Kogarah Investment Attraction Strategy is on public exhibition on Your Say Georges River and community members and organisations are invited to share feedback on the document.
Research Foundation support
The St George and Sutherland Medical Research Foundation (SSMRF) has supported a council strategy to make Kogarah a stronger health and education precinct.
But foundation chief executive, Jacquie Stratford, says a timeline on the plan is vital and would need to become a reality in the next five years.
Georges River Council is developing an Investment Attraction Strategy for Kogarah to guide the expansion of investment and employment in health, education and innovation.
Ms Stratford from SSMRF was invited to and attended meetings of the Greater Sydney Commission earlier this year. The first of the meetings, in April, chaired by Morris Iemma, gave the foundation the opportunity to provide its input into the Kogarah collaboration.
"Kogarah was introduced as a health and education hub," Foundation chief executive Jacquie Stratford said.
"I pointed out that the word 'research' was missing, and stated that I believed the next priority for Kogarah was a dedicated medical research institute on the grounds of St George Hospital.
"This was very well received by Mr Iemma, who spoke to the Ingham Institute and how that had changed the research agenda at Liverpool Hospital.
"St George Hospital is the only major teaching hospital in NSW without a dedicated medical research institute."
Ms Stratford also meet with a council representative in August, after there was some council representation at the opening of the Microbiome Research Centre (MRC) in Kogarah this year.
"They had a lab tour and were very impressed," she said.
She says she was "delighted" to see that an item on the agenda stated an aim of supporting the growth of knowledge intensive jobs, in [Kogarah's] role as a health, education and wellness precinct.
This includes leveraging local international health and research connections for knowledge sharing and innovation, and investigating opportunities to deliver space for research activities associated with the MRC and investigate opportunities for a medical research institute presence associated with St George Public Hospital.
Prior to this, Ms Stratford said she had already discussed the institute idea with local members of parliament, and had received a "positive response".
"The MRC is a shining example of what can be achieved with the right amount of expertise, vision and support," she said.
"It is a UNSW facility but it has been heavily supported by federal and state government through SSMRF to the tune of $13.5 million. While the newly refurbished laboratories are a wonderful resource, they are almost at capacity with a team of 26 and more than 60 research programs.
"Kogarah needs a dedicated medical research institute to enable the MRC to grow into the international success it deserves."