A groundswell of over 50 business owners in Melbourne’s outer western suburbs is campaigning to repurpose one of Victoria’s best-equipped food industry research facilities to support businesses in and around the City of Wyndham.
Members of the BizBuddyHub micro-business community want to transform Dairy Innovation Australia Limited’s (DIAL) research facility in Werribee into Victoria’s first outer-metropolitan collaborative coworking hub. A section of the hub would serve as an incubator for emerging food production businesses.
DIAL announced last month it is winding down its technical consulting operations and selling its 6000 m2 Princes Highway property. The site’s infrastructure is perfect for housing Australia’s first BizBuddyHub.
The BizBuddyHub model – described as the ‘future of work’ for outer metropolitan and regional centres – involves local micro-business experts working together under one roof to create a dynamic and collaborative ecosystem. The hub enables them to work in their own postcode and also provides work areas for corporate employees who want work locally instead of enduring long daily commutes to central offices.
Since it was established in 2015, the Wyndham micro-business community has been searching for its first physical home, while maintaining a burgeoning virtual hub through a website, professional meet-ups and regular pop-up coworking events. One such coworking event will be held at DIAL on Tuesday 12 July, when BizBuddyHub members and stakeholders will inspect the site and try it out for size.
The proposed mixed-use complex would encompass a kitchen hub and food business incubator, a co-working business hub, arts and creative production hubs, an artisanal trades hub, and a kids’ hub providing on-demand childcare for on-site workers and visitors.
Existing facilities at the DIAL site include specialised research laboratories and equipment, commercial preparation kitchens, sensory booths, a registered manufacturing pilot processing plant, a clean room, freezer rooms, a cool room, incubators, meeting rooms and offices, a central dining room and kitchen facilities for staff, and a large multi-purpose function space.
The BizBuddyHub model has been endorsed by the Committee for Wyndham; Wyndham City Council, Joanne Ryan MP, Federal Member for Lalor; Jill Hennessy MP, State Member for Altona District, among others.
Quotes attributable to Sara Mitchell, Founder, BizBuddy Hub:
“I am amazed at how fit-for-purpose the DIAL complex is for our BizBuddyHub community. It’s fully equipped with state-of-the-art commercial kitchens and modern office and meeting spaces – and it’s available for use almost immediately.”
“We can see this site being an innovative mixed-use enterprise centre for our growing micro-business community that will enable us to demonstrate the benefits of our collaborative coworking model.”
“The BizBuddyHub model represents the real, practical future for work in outer metropolitan and regional areas. It will serve as an incubator for small enterprises and a catalyst for community-based innovation.”
“Our BizBuddyHub has a rapidly growing membership base of over 50 local businesses. We already have each other; now all we need is a physical home.”
Quotes attributable to Lesley McLeod, CEO Dairy Innovation Australia Ltd:
“We’ve created on this site a $4 million stand-alone specialist facility that can be used to carry out both food-related research, production and practical consulting and training services. It provides a wealth of opportunities for the food industry – all under the one roof.”
“We would like to see the facilities we’ve developed here be put to good use supporting businesses in and around the City of Wyndham, as well as continuing to be available for use by the dairy industry.”
“The idea of using this facility as Victoria’s first BizBuddyHub that includes an incubator service and hireable product development facility for the food industry is absolutely perfect.”
Quotes attributable to Chris Potaris, CEO, Committee for Wyndham:
“The Committee for Wyndham have been advocating for and lobbying the State Government for a number of years to provide a broader focus and more funding for the development of innovative, business/community-minded initiatives in this region.”
“What the BizBuddyHub community have achieved at a grassroots level in Wyndham, in the absence of any initial funding or a physical home base has been inspiring. They have clearly demonstrated their resilience and determination to succeed.”
“The BizBuddyHub model will greatly benefit the Wyndham region and more broadly, Melbourne’s west.”