The Upper Yarra Valley Local Development Strategy (LDS) project will identify and develop ideas for innovation and diversification that support local growth and bring long-term economic, environmental and social benefits to the Upper Yarra. The Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) has partnered with RMIT University and are supported by Council to deliver the project.

We are now seeking expressions of interest from skilled people to join an Innovation Working Group to further dig deep and test the viability and potential of these ideas and opportunities.

Innovation Working Groups

Want to be part of the Innovation Working Groups?

Would you like to register your interest to join the Innovation Working Groups to build on innovation opportunities?

How to be involved

Selection for eligibility and inclusion on an innovation working group will be determined based on a number of factors to ensure a broad range of voices are represented and the right skill set and experience are engaged. This is to allow for the best possible outcomes for each opportunity. Your expression of interest does not guarantee selection on an innovation working group. Groups will be limited in size but will seek to engage additional targeted expertise as required during the duration of the working group.

We appreciate your involvement and voice in this project.


Submit an EOI here.

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Project History

Throughout 2023 we undertook research, analysis and conducted stakeholder consultations. We gained valuable knowledge, insights and identified the following six proposed innovation opportunities.

Review the Upper Yarra Context Analysis for more information on each of the opportunities.


Nature Based Tourism – The “Walking Economy”

Multi-day walking routes with accommodation options along the Yarra Valley and in the surrounding mountains and forests, that take in the natural beauty of the region.

Artisan Agriculture and Food Production

Artisan food and drink production that supports producers and provides healthy and locally branded food and drink. Embraces the circular economy.

Energy Resilience and Renewable Energy

Using renewable energy to power community buildings, new enterprises, and transport infrastructure.

Repurposing Abandoned and Under Used Buildings

Re-purposing ageing public buildings and spaces that currently are not being used or can be shared with existing uses.

Ecological Maintenance and Enhancement

Using existing facilities and create a Social Enterprise to provide meaningful work opportunities to protect and enhance the Upper Yarra Catchment.

Improving Transport and Access

Enabling easier movement of people within the Upper Yarra region using an electrified and flexible bus system, powered by renewable energy.

From February to September 2023, we conducted research, analysis and consultations with community, business, education and government.

  • We conducted community and stakeholder interviews with 97 people asking about strengths, assets, challenges and innovation opportunities for the Upper Yarra.
  • We had site visits to Upper Yarra locations and meetings with subject matter experts to discuss innovation opportunities.
  • We spoke to Council Advisory groups and other community groups.
  • Our research and analysis included history of the region, demographic data, geographical information, local and projected industry trends.

The data from the desktop analysis and community interviews helped shape the draft Upper Yarra Context Analysis and identified the following strengths, challenges and innovation opportunities which have been recommended for further investigation in the Stage 2 - Entrepreneurial Discovery Process (EDP).

  • Natural environment
  • Community strength
  • Proximity to Melbourne
  • Tracks and trails
  • Agriculture
  • Community diversity
  • Rural character
  • History and heritage
  • Sports and sports clubs
  • Tourism
  • Yarra River
  • Forest
  • Outdoor recreation
  • Transport
  • Risk of bushfires, floods, storms
  • Abandoned and underutilised buildings
  • Tourism
  • Lack of local employment
  • Divided community
  • Poor infrastructure
  • Limited affordable housing
  • Limited opportunity for growth
  • Lack of trust in government
  • Low socio-demographics
  • Planning restrictions and bureaucracy
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