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Local contractor appointed for Makers transformation

The University of Tasmania is helping reinvigorate a well-known North-West building into a technology and innovation hub for the region.

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An exciting future is coming to Burnie’s iconic Makers’ Workshop thanks to a new chapter being progressed by the University of Tasmania and its partners.

Work has begun on a $4 million+ internal refurbishment with local firm Fairbrother leading activity to transform the building into a technology and innovation hub.

Known as The Makers, the site will come to showcase modern making in the region, hosting the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA), Tech Solutions Hub, a Business Incubator and public demonstration space inside.

The Makers will reopen to the community on a programmed basis with activities and opportunities ranging from events, displays, industry training and projects, business mentoring and globally significant agricultural research.

Associate Professor Sonya Stanford, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Cradle Coast) said the new Makers would continue to deeply involve the North-West community.

“In developing a future use for the site, it has always been a priority to ensure the building continues to engage and connect with our community,” Associate Professor Stanford said.

“The future Makers will focus on partnerships between the University, industry and community that make a positive difference to sustainable regional development across the entire North-West region.

“It will be a place where people come together to collaborate and make, helping develop innovative solutions for the region with strong links to the University’s education and research opportunities.

“Following many discussions with our stakeholders, we’re progressing a Mini MakerX festival for the community that will showcase making in its many forms, along with other public events demonstrating drones and virtual reality, agricultural technology, and artificial intelligence.

“We greatly appreciate everyone’s patience while we continue working to bring this exciting new chapter for the building to life and look forward to welcoming the community back soon.”

The refurbishment is being funded entirely by the University as part of a continuing commitment and investment to advance educational opportunities in the region.

The building will be fitted-out with laboratories enabling agricultural research, collaborative areas for business and industry activities and specialised spaces that will host manufacturing technology and equipment. Minor alterations will be made to the building's façade and loading dock area.

Marcus Perkins, General Manager – Northern Tasmania from construction firm Fairbrother said “We are thrilled to be partnering with our long-term client, UTAS to deliver another key educational space in the Burnie region.

“This project is particularly rewarding for us, given that Fairbrother initially built the Makers’ Workshop.”

The Makers building continues to be owned by Burnie City Council. When the site’s tourism operations ceased in 2021, the University became the last remaining tenant and was tasked with developing a new business model and future use for the much-loved location.

In honouring its long and proud history, the theme of ‘making’ was retained and refocused to celebrate the region’s strengths in technology, manufacturing, design, innovation, and food production.

The Makers refurbishment is expected to be complete in mid-November 2023.

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Pictured from left; Brad Symmons, Fairbrother, Associate Professor Sonya Stanford, University of Tasmania, Callum Rolls, Fairbrother and Marcus Perkins, also from Fairbrother.