Mondo Studios Ramps Up On 80 Ha Site
Tuesday April 17, 2001
MONASH University is dreaming of a mini-Silicon Valley in the south-eastern suburb of Berwick with plans to develop a former airfield into a technology precinct.
The university's technology campus at Casey would draw on the booming population centre, which is Australia's third-fastest-growing area.
"We want to develop the campus to have commercial space where there are synergies with the university - a community of technology companies in a living technology environment," said Professor John Rosenberg, dean of the and information technology faculty.
The university owns about 80 hectares of land in Casey, near Berwick, about 45 minutes from Melbourne.
The plan by Monash, which has the biggest IT faculty in the country, follows recent works by RMIT and La Trobe universities at Bundoora. The Monash plan was kick-started with the launch last week of a new company, Mondo Studios, the brainchild of Professor Rosenberg.
The company has a chief executive officer with a strong corporate pedigree, Chris Waddell, a former executive with consultancy firm, Simsion Bowles. It draws on 200 students from the university's IT faculty at Berwick. Students are paid at commercial rates to work for clients such as Xerox, the Department of Education, Employment and Training, and agricultural company Netafin.
Professor Rosenberg said he was motivated to develop the studios because of concern about the number of students working commercially, with little awareness or concept of legal liability and the potential for exploitation.
Professor Rosenberg said he also suspected many were using university resources for commercial purposes.
Production manager and final-year student Alex White said there were 10 or more students in his year with companies of their own and more than half a dozen in other years. ``We are trying to steer away from presenting ourselves as students," White said. ``These people are at the cutting edge. They have these fantastic skills but no knowledge about how to deal with a client."
One of Mondo's clients, Xerox, said the fact the work was being done by students was not an issue. Mondo has developed a training CD-ROM for the company, due to be launched next week. ``There was never a reluctance because they were students," Xerox account manager Rob Webb said.
``We had the foundation for the product but we didn't know how to put it together. The younger people have more of the forward thinking about technology and we would have developed it as a manufacturer and not as a user."
The proposed technology precinct is also expected to attract start-up businesses in the new-media industry from a related Monash incubator venture. The venture is seeking capital and several start-ups have applied for funding. The incubator will provide start-up resources, including accommodation, equipment, telecommunications networks, business mentoring, legal and secretarial services.