For NORTH Link, a small organisation with a big mission, headquarters in the heart of Melbourne’s thriving north is all the benefit they need.

NORTH Link is a locally-focused organisation with one mission: to build opportunities in one of the country’s fastest-growing regions, the metropolis of Melbourne’s north.

Operating since 1995, NORTH Link boasts a business database of more than 5000 contacts spanning education, health, industry and government.

‘Ultimately it's about growing jobs and investment in the region,’ explains Tony Coppola, Deputy Executive Director at NORTH Link.

‘We also generate research for what's going on in the region, where the needs and opportunities are, and then the board makes decisions about implementing recommendations that come out of the research.’

Currently around 1 million people live across the seven local government areas covered by NORTH Link, but Tony says that number could increase by another 50% in the next 16 years.

‘The issue is, how do you manage that population growth, how do you create sufficient jobs for the local population and how do you encourage investment from business locally and overseas to invest in the region.’

A place to call home

Tony sees La Trobe University’s Bundoora campus as the perfect headquarters for NORTH Link.

‘We prefer to be in the heart of the region, if possible, and we've got a very good relationship with La Trobe,’ he says.

‘The location and the environment is fantastic. Most of the staff go for a walk at lunchtime, around the parks and the trees and the birds.’

Tony says the University also offers proximity and access to faculties that have relevance to NORTH Link’s diverse work.

‘We've developed very strong relationships with a lot of the social media and marketing training of students; the data analytics faculty; and also with the business school,’ says Tony.

In return, NORTH Link provides pathways for student placement in business, industry and project-based activities.

A symbiotic relationship

NORTH Link also partners with the University to create events, conferences and seminars to promote innovation and collaboration across networks.

‘Whenever you get a group of businesses together with government and university people in the same room, they start interacting and identify opportunities where they can engage with each other,’ says Tony. ‘We see a lot of our role as creating those opportunities and facilitating a lot of that collaboration and networking.

Tony is excited by the prospect of a University City of the Future at La Trobe, as more co-location partners combine to develop a hub of education and innovation in years to come.

‘The fact that they're going to potentially have a hospital, commercial office space, residential and retail to, in effect, have a city on site, I think is very exciting in terms of jobs and investment and connectivity for people,’ says Tony.

‘I think the more you get like businesses clustering together, and chiefly with researchers and developers, that's where you get innovation happening on a much larger scale.’

And growth in Melbourne’s north shows no signs of slowing. Watch this space.