Regional science and innovation boost in FN Qld

The third Queensland regional science and innovation hub has been launched in Cairns, boosting research opportunities in the state’s far north.

Under the Partner Up Queensland Regional Science and Innovation Network, the hubs aim to provide people living in regional Queensland with more opportunities to engage with science and innovation in a meaningful way.

Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the hub in Cairns will enable Far North individuals and community groups to participate in a range of STEM-based (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and innovation-related activities and events.

“The events will be developed by the hub and by local science and innovation champions within the community and will include mentoring, networking and collaboration opportunities; the engagement of youth in design, implementation, product pitching and entrepreneurship; and engagement with researchers, technology experts, business and First Nations mentors,” Healy said.

“The network will provide opportunities for skills development and establish local networks that will drive growth and development in the science sector and innovation economy throughout regional Queensland.

“This will result in enhancing how businesses, research organizations and industry can meet the changing scientific and innovation needs of the community.”

Science Minister Meaghan Scanlon said Cairns joins Gladstone and Toowoomba in receiving funding of up to $70,000. The funding is issued over 12 months to employ a regional coordinator who will support events, activities and projects that encourage Queenslanders’ participation and awareness of science and innovation within their region.

“Science and innovation are helping to drive the Queensland Government’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan — whether that’s through renewable energy, advanced manufacturing or our education and research sector,” Scanlon said.

“Recent research commissioned by the Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist showed that 83% of Queenslanders believe science is critical for the Queensland economy.

“Survey results from the 3M State of Science Index show that 9 in 10 Australians back more investment in science.

“The survey results also showed that during the pandemic, almost two in three Australians thought that scientists and medical professionals are inspiring a new generation to pursue a science-based career.

“That’s why we’re delivering these hubs, together with major investments like the additional $35.5 million to ramp up the development and manufacture of locally based vaccines that builds on last year’s announcement of $20 million as part of our flagship Queensland Jobs fund,” Scanlon said.

The Partner Up Queensland Regional Science and Innovation Network is a joint initiative of the Department of Environment and Science and the Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport. Innovation Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the hubs would help to supercharge regional Queensland science and innovation.

“For local entrepreneurs and business leaders, the hubs aim to deliver support and partnerships to identify and develop real-world opportunities.

“Whether it’s robots, hydrogen or medical technology, we know science and innovation will be critical to building regional Queensland’s industries and jobs of the future,” Hinchliffe said.

The Far North Queensland Hub will be led by James Cook University and will be supported by Cairns Regional Council, Gulf Savannah NRM, Y(E)P Entrepreneurship Facilitators Cairns, Regional Development Australia and Cairns Chamber of Commerce.

James Cook University Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research Professor Andrew Krockenberger said JCU welcomed the initiative.

“This hub will strengthen linkages between our region’s very active science and innovation community, the Office of the Chief Scientist and the Office of the Chief Entrepreneur.

“Having the Hub here in Cairns will boost connectivity between important state government programs and those working on research and innovation in our region, and will support projects that encourage community awareness of science and innovation.

“The Partner Up Queensland program aligns with JCU’s vision of Cairns and the Far North as a knowledge-based economy, reflecting the region’s expertise in meeting the challenges of life in the tropics,” Krockenberger said.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Darren

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