Cities are Australia’s economic powerhouses, generating over 80% of GDP and home to over 80% of our people. But their ongoing productivity is at risk from ageing infrastructure, increasingly brittle built environments and climate change impacts. Growing populations and bigger cities can drive our success as a knowledge-based economy, but the infrastructure technologies and practices that have historically served cities well cannot address these complex modern challenges.

Industry urgently needs new systems-based solutions that can respond to the complexity and interconnections in cities, to ensure our cities remain competitive. Our industry partners identify hybrid systems as the solution to addressing the Australian Government’s call for ‘catalytic infrastructure investments tied with urban governance and land use reform’.

Hybrid solutions systems combine traditional infrastructure with new flexible, decentralised and nature-based solutions. They empower citizens and, with cross-sectoral governance, deliver multiple benefits and efficiencies across scales and sectors. They can be customised and implemented as and when needed to facilitate out-of-sequence urban development, service diverse urban contexts, rapidly respond in changing situations and adapt as new technologies emerge.

The Transformative Cities CRC will develop the technological, business and governance solutions to drive the rapid uptake of hybrid solutions. And while pockets of urban innovation exist, no city has achieved the cross-sectoral and cross-scale integration of infrastructure, regulation and community needed for long-term competitiveness, productivity and sustainability. The Transformative Cities CRC will provide the necessary platform to unlock this integration at scale.

Our partners value water as a powerful entry point to catalyse transformative opportunities for improving services and performance through large-scale integration across multiple sectors. The Transformative Cities CRC will build on lessons from water sector experience, to connect other key city shaping sectors—energy, waste, food, transport and the built environment—through circular economy principles. Australia’s urban water industry is a recognised global leader in emerging hybrid water systems, but it recognises the need to look beyond water to meet the challenge of ensuring liveable, resilient and prosperous cities. The urban development and finance industries see opportunities to engage with leading innovation in water-nexus technology and business solutions to deliver the next generation of liveable suburbs and communities and productive infrastructure services.

The proposed CRC has four programs:

    1. Integrated Urban Systems will develop new metrics, technologies and decision-support tools to help industry optimise resources as part of a circular economy and increase infrastructure resilience.
    2. People and Place will develop participatory tools and evidence-informed policy, planning and design guidance for industry and community to co-create hybrid solutions that reflect local values and improve human and ecological health outcomes.
    3. Funding, Servicing and Regulation will develop new business and financing models, incentives and regulatory frameworks for industry to unlock private investment in hybrid systems and encourage their delivery through appropriate sharing of costs, benefits and risks.
    4. Scaling Innovation will develop evidence, tools and practical strategies to rapidly scale the implementation of innovative hybrid solutions through enabling governance arrangements, market conditions and knowledge sharing.

Looking ahead, we expect to find out in August or September whether the bid has been short-listed into Stage 2. The Stage 2 application process is expected to open in September, where short-listed applicants will be asked to respond to reviewers comments, provide more details on the programs and submit the corresponding impact tool assessment. Stage 2 is expected to close in October. Stage 2 applicants will be invited to attend an interview with the CRC Advisory Committee.

We expect the outcome of Stage 2 to be announced in December, although we understand this is not a fixed date.

You can find out more about the Transformative Cities CRC here.

Last updated: 8th Jul 2019