FAQs about The Fulcrum
What is the proposed concept, and what are its objectives?
The proposal is for an innovative learning hub, provisionally called The Fulcrum, based at Samford Parklands. Its purpose is to build local and regional capability in sustainability, innovation and entrepreneurship. Advancing agricultural technology, community resilience and circular economy activity are key intended outcomes of the concept.
As well as a physical campus, the learning hub will have an integrated online network connecting students, teachers, schools, businesses, researchers, service providers and community members across the region and beyond. By leveraging this network, the hub can provide highly relevant learning experiences that are not available elsewhere.
Collaborative, highly interactive learning models will catalyse ideas, foster entrepreneurship and set a benchmark for sustainability education. This will attract interest from far afield, creating opportunities for investment in areas such as education technology, agribusiness, sustainable products/services and circular economy businesses.
This bold, future-focused approach will embed sustainability and innovation principles into the local economy while creating economic and social value for the community, thus contributing to the “bigger, bolder, brighter” future envisaged for the region.
How is this concept different to what schools, RTOs or universities can offer?
An express purpose of the learning hub is to provide experiences that are difficult (or near impossible) to facilitate in mainstream educational facilities. Australia’s ESTEAM curriculum priorities for schools (Entrepreneurism, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) will be at the core of the offer, focusing on agricultural technology and sustainability. Teaching these subjects requires access to specialist knowledge, industry contacts, latest technologies, agricultural facilities and other resources the learning hub will be set up to provide. Our research with schools in the region indicates many schools lack these resources, and would benefit from an off-site learning space that enables collaboration with other schools.
The learning hub’s clear focus on sustainability and innovation will make it a centre of expertise capable of providing education at all levels. Rather than competing with schools, Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) or local universities such as USC Moreton Bay, the learning hub will complement and partner with their offerings. These partnerships with education providers, backed by strong industry links, will allow the learning hub to act as a catalyst for knowledge sharing and capacity building across the region.
RTOs and universities offer courses relating to aspects of sustainability and innovation as part of formal qualifications, but are not generally set up to provide agile learning that adapts quickly to changing market conditions. University researchers often struggle to find participants for research projects, and The Fulcrum will provide an opportunity for collaboration with other researchers or students on neutral territory.
Primary/secondary schools will be The Fulcrum’s initial core market, but TAFE and tertiary markets are areas ripe for future growth once initial offerings for schools are established. Online learning in particular is a key growth area for the education industry, having experienced a boom as a side-effect of Covid-19 lockdowns. This is an area The Fulcrum will plan to develop and expand.
An educational facility like The Fulcrum does not exist in the Moreton Bay region, but private educators operating in this space are proving to be very successful. Examples include the Sustainable Schools Network, CERES Environmental Education Centre in Vic ($17M revenue in 2019-20), QLD College of Wine Tourism and Green School in NZ. STEM Punks at Samford (Telstra 2019 Business Awards winner) is an outstanding example who have offered support to this proposal. These groups would be called upon to contribute to development and delivery of The Fulcrum’s offerings.
By studying at The Fulcrum, school students, tertiary students, researchers, residents, workers and entrepreneurs will be equipped with highly valuable skills they can apply to work in agriculture, manufacturing, IT, professional services and many other industries. Such skills will enable them to develop new ways of managing energy, water, waste, production, materials, supply chains, community resources and other aspects of working and living sustainably.
Who will use the learning hub's services?
Primary and secondary schools across the region will send students to participate in programs focused on sustainability, innovation and entrepreneurship, including areas of the curriculum that are hard to deliver in schools, such as agricultural technology.
Remote, interstate or international students will be able to access programs via immersion programs or online services. A collaborative approach to learning will expose all students to new stimuli and connections, working with industry contacts on real projects, as well as students from other schools.
Other key clients will include tertiary students, researchers, local residents, community groups, business people and entrepreneurs keen to learn about sustainability or explore innovative ideas.
When fully operational, up to 200 school-age or adult students per day could utilise the facility, equating to 25,000 student days per year. Learners studying online programs would be in addition to these numbers, with the potential for the number of online clients to grow exponentially.
How will it make money?
Designed to be financially sustainable, the learning hub will generate income from course fees, seminars, digital learning products/services, research grants, corporate sponsorships and other sources. Financial modelling at the detailed project proposal stage will determine priorities, timelines and predictions for planned and potential income sources.
At this stage, we anticipate ‘Anchor Schools’ will share staffing and other resources so as to provide a core suite of co-designed learning experiences. Other schools will pay a membership fee and/or agreed per-head fees for programs related to curriculum needs. Private individuals will pay one-off fees to participate in specific programs, seminars and events, or annual subscriptions to access multiple programs. Community groups and business clients will pay for customised program development and delivery, or buy passes for multi-participant access to standard programs.
Online-only memberships may also be offered, together with digital products and services such as online courses, e-books, webinars, games or other resources. Research grants and commercial sponsorships will be sought to develop innovative programs, provide latest technologies and support disadvantaged or remote students.
What will the learning hub be called?
The name of the learning hub will reflect its role and purpose. It is NOT a school, community centre or tertiary campus. To create a strong sense of identity, it will have a clear name rather than an abstract acronym.
At this stage The Fulcrum has been proposed as a potential name, along with a descriptive tagline (Sustainability and Innovation Learning Hub). The Oxford Dictionary defines a fulcrum as “a thing that plays a central or essential role in an activity, event, or situation”. This reflects exactly what the learning hub will do – act as a central hub to facilitate knowledge sharing and drive innovation and sustainability activity across the region. This and other possible names will be tested with stakeholders at the proposal stage.
Why is Samford Parklands a good place for a sustainable learning hub?
Samford is a thriving community of over 11,000 residents who are attracted by the semi-rural lifestyle and strong community identity. The Samford Parklands site, as well as being close to the business amenities of Samford Village, is home to the new Community Hub, Millen Farm and nearby Eco-Corridor and sporting precincts. These assets will enhance educational offerings, and the presence of a learning facility will provide reciprocal benefits. The site also has potential to host accommodation for visiting students/facilitators, providing more value to the region.
Samford is well known as an area with a high proportion of innovative and entrepreneurial businesses. This provides a significant lifeblood of easily accessible experience and expertise to facilitate innovative practice and mentor both young and mature entrepreneurs.
Which part of the Parklands site is most suitable, and how will it be used?
Lot 3, opposite the Samford Community Hub, is the ideal site for the proposed learning hub. In addition, we flag the potential for camping/visitor accommodation at the space currently occupied by cattle yards and ‘weed trees’ to the north west of Lot 3.
Flexible indoor/outdoor spaces will be created on site, to allow for active, collaborative learning. Buildings and other physical structures will be designed following sustainability principles, to minimise environmental impact and reduce running costs while maximising use of space. Smart technology infrastructure will be integrated into building layout, construction, and internal fit-out.
How will visiting students be accommodated?
Remote or international students and facilitators coming to Samford, as well as students enrolled in multi-day immersion programs and seminars, will need somewhere to stay. To minimise the need for travel and allow for full participation in programs, it is important they can stay locally. There are no motels, hostels or group accommodation options nearby.
Samford has a chronic shortage of short-term visitor accommodation, and research indicates strong demand for this from community groups. For example, the nearby tennis, soccer and netball clubs (whose facilities were built using advanced sustainability principles) would like to provide advanced coaching for visiting students. Archery club competitions at the adjacent Parklands site, and other community events such as the Arts Trail, would also benefit from more visitor accommodation.
There is space on the Parklands site to build low-scale residential accommodation for 50-80 people in single or shared units plus a camping (or ‘glamping’) site. This would be designed as an exemplary, visitable eco-neighbourhood, showcasing sustainable living, working and playing.
We suggest the accommodation is co-designed, by running a competition for school students. Who better to design ideas for sustainable, inclusive, creative temporary living spaces than those who will use it? This will promote innovative, sustainable thinking, and student’s ideas can then be developed into workable plans to construct the accommodation.
The accommodation would be economically sustainable, and there is an option for it to be funded and managed separately from The Fulcrum learning hub. Such a facility could house visitors to workshops, coaching clinics, farm workers, green nomads, volunteer worker schemes, research projects and educational camps. The availability of this facility would be of great benefit to community organisations, regional businesses, tourism services and event organisers.
Will the learning hub need to be formally accredited as an education provider?
No, however consultation with Education Queensland and the Independent Schools Association will be necessary from the outset. The hub will work with accredited providers – public and private schools, registered training organisations (RTOs), the DAF ‘Agribusiness to schools partnership’ and universities – to deliver programs that meet specific curriculum needs for schools and match defined competencies for vocational qualifications. The hub can offer a mix of accredited Certificate I-III modules/courses (via an RTO) and non-accredited professional development programs (which do not require formal registration). This capacity may be expanded depending on demand.
What sort of jobs will be created via this project?
Initially, the project will create jobs related to the physical site design and construction, IT consulting/supply, design and marketing, project planning and operational management. Once up and running, it will create employment in the education and professional services sector for teachers/ facilitators, program managers, support staff, learning designers, researchers, software developers, sustainability consultants, marketers and other advisors. There will also be service industry jobs to manage building, IT, catering, accommodation and other operational services.
Job creation extends beyond the learning hub itself. The education programs will equip students, community members and entrepreneurs with the skills to innovate and start businesses, or participate in and grow circular economy networks. This will create new, as yet unforeseen employment opportunities.
How does this concept support the Moreton Bay Regional Economic Development Strategy (REDS) and Sustainable Business strategy?
The learning hub will support the REDS innovation and entrepreneurship pillar through education about innovation, maker spaces for trialling new ideas, learning for entrepreneurs, and development of technology-enhanced agile learning products and services.
The hub will also support the leadership, collaboration and identity pillar by connecting industry, educators and students throughout the region, and building a reputation as a place for collaborative, forward-thinking sustainability education.
By developing innovative learning experiences, the learning hub will support knowledge industries – education program development, experience design, e-learning services, VR/AR design and development. In addition, Samford’s semi-rural location and proximity to urban farming and environmental sustainability initiatives means it is well placed to support research and education for food and agribusiness industries. Local and regional tourism will also benefit from the increased visits resulting from learning hub activities.
The hub’s collaborative approach to education will allow it to hook into sustainability initiatives discussed in the Moreton Bay Sustainable Business Strategy, such as the business toolkit, sustainable business precincts and sustainable start-up hubs. Building understanding of sustainability principles and practice across the region will equip a wide range of industries to become part of a more sustainable circular economy.
|REDS strategy pillar||How the Fulcrum will support it|
|Leadership||Students would be encouraged to develop leadership skills. Business and community members will be equipped to lead their peers via greater awareness of practical sustainability solutions.|
|Collaboration||Collaboration via co-learning would be a core element of the education approach. It also reflects the way the facility will operate in partnership with schools, other education providers and industry, both local and international via networks.|
|Identity||The learning facility will be a world class exemplar of agile, co-learning education and promote the Moreton Bay region as a centre of sustainability and innovation.|
|Industry advancement||Pathways to employment will be a core focus through exposure to local companies.
Regional businesses and RTOs will participate in the education delivery. Local industries will be upskilled in key themes such as sustainability and circular economy practice.
|Innovation||Train youth from an early age in the innovation process, and introduce fresh thinking to established businesses through multi-generational collaboration.|
|Entrepreneurship||Introduce entrepreneurship at an early age to develop confidence and self-belief. Support budding and mature entrepreneurs through professional development and access to facilities such as maker spaces, research and new technologies.|
What benefits will there be for the community?
School students and adults throughout the region will benefit from access to innovative learning programs they can apply to their life, work or community activities. This learning is directly relevant to careers in priority industries such as food production, IT/knowledge industries, and sustainable circular economy products and services. It will promote innovative approaches to advance these industries, and encourage entrepreneurs to set up new ventures.
Visiting students will spend money at local businesses, as will the hub’s staff. The local economy will get a boost from increased circular economy awareness, activity and entrepreneurship. The Fulcrum will attract external interest as a best practice exemplar of learning, bringing greater awareness to the Moreton Bay region, boosting the brand and fostering allied support services.
The hub’s activities will be actively promoted, to raise its profile and attract new learners, researchers, sponsors and other industry partners. A marketing plan will be developed early in the entity’s formation. Social media, video stories, webinars, topical blog posts and reciprocal marketing with partners are just a few examples of how The Fulcrum can spread its message. This marketing will not only attract people to The Fulcrum, it will attract visitors and businesses to the region, bringing further benefit in the form of jobs, investment and spending.
How will it enhance existing regional assets?
The learning hub will enhance the value of existing assets at the Parklands site by creating connections between them and bringing people and activity to the site. For example, organisations based at the community hub can use services and facilities offered by the learning hub and vice versa. Millen Farm and other local agricultural producers can support in-situ learning about sustainable agribusiness.
More broadly, the educational assets of the Moreton Bay region – its schools and teachers with over 77,000 students – will enhance their own service by being able to provide students with dedicated sustainability programs.
Where will the initial funding come from?
To turn the concept into reality, initial funding will need to cover building infrastructure, legal fees, insurance, marketing, branding, technology setup and education program development. It is anticipated this will come from a mix of public and private funding.
A consortium will be formed to firm up the project proposal, sign up investors, apply for any relevant grants and manage the process of establishing the learning hub.
The EOI submission to council includes a financial summary showing projected return on investment (ROI).
How long will it take to get up and running?
The time needed for physical site planning and building need not delay development of education programs, which can be co-created with anchor schools once an organisation structure and initial funding is in place. Sustainability and agricultural technology education for school-age students will be the initial priority, followed by workplace and residential educational offerings around sustainability and innovation.
There is potential to deliver financially viable programs online or “without walls” before physical building work is completed. For example, the flagship ESTEAM Immersion Camp program will continue to be conducted in 2021 and onward by the partnership Samford Commons has with Innovate Moreton Bay.
The building design and approvals are timed for six months from being granted the right to occupy the site and construction to be completed within 12 months of that date.
What’s the role of Samford Commons? Who will own and operate the learning hub?
Samford Commons is acting as a catalyst and lead agency to get the concept off the ground and facilitate its early development, and does not plan to own or manage the learning hub itself. We are currently contacting potential investors and facilitating connections between interested partners. A champion/s will be identified early on, to take the concept from idea to reality and sustain it over time.
The learning hub itself will be operated by an entity created for that purpose by consortium partners. It will require a clear governance strategy, with a board of advisors drawn from education providers, sustainability/innovation experts and industry/government advisors. Governance sustainability will require a structure to ensure perpetual operation in the face of changes of key support personnel (headmasters, local council, Govt Departments and private funders).
What support is there for this idea?
The learning hub is already more than just an idea. Samford Commons and partners have run sustainability immersion programs for regional schools in the last few years without the benefit of a fixed physical campus. A number of local schools have expressed strong support, indicating the seriousness and belief they have to see the project succeed and also act as ‘Anchor Schools’ should the EOI be successful. These anchor schools will co-create educational programs, ensuring the learning offered via the hub is relevant and practical.
Regional and local bodies such as Innovate Moreton Bay, MBRIT, RDA Moreton Bay, Samford Progress Association and the Samford Chamber of Commerce have been approached to endorse the idea or act as key agencies to support the development of the hub. The Office of the Chief Entrepreneur has indicated strong support for the hub’s vision and practice.
Similarly, key delivery agencies such as STEM Punks, Sustainable Startup Hub, Millen Farm, Samford Sustainable Business Precinct and Valid8 have indicated their interest in assisting with the delivery of hub programs.
The local Samford community has long supported the repurposing of the former CSIRO site for community benefit, as prioritised during the Samford Futures process, so this concept is likely to be met with open arms. Samford Commons is well placed to facilitate consultation with the community and other stakeholders, and to provide an advisory role in making the idea happen.
You can read what supporters say here.
What happens next? How can I or my organisation get involved?
If the expression of interest for the Samford Parklands site is successful, a consortium will be formed to develop a detailed project proposal, arrange funding and manage the process of setting up the hub. Meanwhile, ‘Anchor schools’ will work with industry experts and delivery partners to start planning and creating learning programs, initially for school students. The role and commitment level of anchor schools is flexible, and this will be agreed with each school that wants to play a key role in program development and/or contribute staff and other resources.
If you want to find out more about opportunities for schools, learning program designers, researchers, education delivery partners, sustainability/innovation consultants, community groups or regional businesses, please get in touch. Similarly, if you’re an individual or organisation interested in investing time or money in the project, we’d love to hear from you! Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work and live, and recognise their strong continuing connection to land, water and community. We pay utmost respect to Elders past, present and emerging.