The Australian smart city wants to be the next Silicon Valley


Computer generated aerial view of Greater Springfield near Brisbane, Australia.

Springfield City Group

Travel the sunny shores of the Australian Gold Coast, 25 kilometers outside Brisbane, and you will find Greater Springfield, a city that differs in design.

You may have never heard of it. Not surprising; the city is not yet 30 years old. But that doesn’t stop him. In a few years, it could be the next Silicon Valley, says Springfield City Group (SCG) developer.

“The world has learned a lot from Silicon Valley,” founder Maha Sinnathamby told CNBC. “We said: it’s 85 years old. Let’s design the latest version.”

Sinnathamby is the brains behind Greater Springfield, Australia’s only privately built city and its first generally planned city since the capital Canberra was created more than a century ago. The octogenarian property tycoon – who has spent a 50-year career creating residential and commercial buildings across Australia – said his latest project, like Silicon Valley inspiration, is about creating a modern business hub designed around technology, education and healthcare.

We are trying to attract the world’s Microsoft and Google.

Maha Sinnathamby

founder and president of Springfield City Group

And now, he is looking for big companies to help him realize the next phase of his vision, which is estimated at 68 billion dollars.

“We’re trying to attract Microsoft and Google to the world,” Sinnathamby said, noting that the group is currently in talks with a multinational technology company.

An innovation hub for the Asia-Pacific region

Developed on 7,000 acres of land bought for $ 6.1 million, Greater Springfield – the world’s tenth largest planned community – is already a vibrant, breathing city that has changed a lot since the untapped Sinnathamby forestry operation acquired in 1992.

Today, home to 46,000 residents, 16,500 homes, 11 schools, a national university campus, a hospital and a railroad linking it to neighboring Brisbane, Sinnathamby said the city has so far been completed by 25% after receiving $ 15 billion in private and state funds.

But more businesses are needed to become a true innovation hub within the Asia-Pacific region and achieve its goals of tripling the population and creating 52,000 new jobs by 2030. To date, 20,000 jobs have been created directly and indirectly within the project, SCG said is.

“We want to fill it with very reputable companies that are extremely talented and want to make big profits,” Sinnathamby said. “We can’t do this massive job alone.”

Greater Springfield is Australia’s first privately built city and the world’s tenth largest planned community.

Springfield City Group

Bait, Sinnathamby says, is a city greenfield site that, like Silicon Valley, offers companies space for experimental work. This includes offering purpose-built facilities in which large companies and smaller start-ups can innovate. Meanwhile, his “living lab” provides space to test new technologies related to smart work, life, learning and play.

Engie SA is one company that is currently testing water. In 2018, the French utility company signed a 50-year strategic alliance to create the Greater Springfield in Australia’s first city with net zero energy because it wants to show its green data.

By 2038, Engie is planning a city they generate more energy than they consume focusing on five key pillars: urban planning, mobility, buildings, energy and technology. Increasing electric vehicle infrastructure, prioritizing public transportation, building environmentally friendly buildings, introducing solar panels on all available roofs, and retaining 30% of land ownership in the region for open green spaces are among the various methods they will use to achieve this goal.

By the way, earlier this month, Sydney start-up Lavo chose Greater Springfield as the production hub for its product. the “world’s first” 30-year-old hydrogen battery said he would be able to power the home for two days on a single charge.

Developing a knowledge workforce

The new business will be housed in the so-called Greater Springfield Science Box, the city’s main employment hub designed to attract workers with knowledge and skills related to its key pillars: technology, education and healthcare.

Healthnat City, a 128-acre health station developed in collaboration with Harvard Medical International, will provide superior health care as well as thousands of medical jobs, Sinnathamby said. Meanwhile, the expansion of the city’s education network, including two new universities and a focus on indigenous communities, will nurture a new generation of professionals, he said.

I want partners who are committed to this vision to come.

Maha Sinnathamby

founder and president of Springfield City Group

“We are very committed to trying to ensure that this knowledge station is a gift not only to Australia, but perhaps to the world as well,” Sinnathamby said.

Still, the timing of the project cannot be ignored. The pandemic has affected many people re-examine the attractiveness of major business hubs, with some estimates suggesting even 53% of American technology and media workers have already left or plan to leave behind increasing living expenses.

Sinnathamby, however, is confident that his vision of Australia’s future city will hold up – and perhaps even provide a blueprint for others. With its focus on new industries, Greater Springfield seems to have weathered the pandemic better than some others, noting unemployment rate of 3.9% compared to the Queensland state level of 5.9%.

“I’m committed to this as a state-building project,” Sinnathamby said. “Now I want partners who are committed to this vision to come.”


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