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From Melbourne, Australia’s Knowledge Capital, to Destination Dublin

Can Melbourne’s dual strategies of knowledge-city development and international student focus be achieved in Dublin?

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Author - Claire Doran


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4. Replicating the Melbourne approach in the Dublin city-region

Successful approaches to knowledge-city development and internationalization cannot simply be ‘transplanted to another location’; rather, one has to draw on existing factors, conditions, circumstances (Mather 2008). However, the DCC and DRHEA policies are still in their infancy and it is felt that Dublin could learn much from Melbourne’s approach.

4.1 Knowledge-city branding and positioning

Before turning to potential directions for development, it is necessary to examine Dublin’s current strengths and weaknesses as a knowledge city-region. A recent case study report by The Work Foundation (UK) identified Dublin’s key strengths: English-speaking, EU-membership, high level of educational attainment of its inhabitants, young labour force, low corporate tax, social partnership system, low unemployment, highly developed financial services sector, pro-business reputation, and rich literary and cultural heritage (Jones et al. 2006).

However, there are a number of barriers to Dublin’s bid to become a globally recognized knowledge city-region, not least its high costs, ‘patchy record’ of R&D investment, and congested transport infrastructure. Combined with labour shortages in highly skilled areas, it is clear that Dublin has some significant areas for improvement (Jones et al. 2006: 16). This section will demonstrate how an approach like that of Melbourne could remove some of the above-mentioned barriers.

In developing its branding and positioning strategy, the OKC worked off the extensive research carried out by the MVCF (2007: 31–34), which first identified Melbourne’s key research and industry strengths:

  • advanced materials and manufacturing
  • ICT
  • architecture and design
  • basic sciences
  • medical and health technologies
  • biotechnology
  • arts, humanities and social sciences
  • economics, business and management
  • sustainability.

With this clear picture of the capabilities of the key stakeholders, the OKC, in conjunction with its member-partner, City of Melbourne, has developed a suite of projects and events which contribute to its branding of Melbourne as a knowledge city. Current projects include the Victoria-California Climate Change Research Collaboration Project, the Knowledge Capital Development Strategy, the Knowledge Capital Indicators Study, and the Knowledge Capability Directory. Events hosted and/or sponsored by the OKC to date include the European Strategy Workshop, the ‘Future of Australia’s Universities’ Conference, and the Annual Higher Education Summit. In August 2009, it will also host the ‘Developing a Knowledge Economy’ Conference (OKC website).

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