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Innovation places to drive the future economy

02 August 2022

The Queensland Government has released a $15 million blueprint putting innovation hubs and precincts at the heart of the state’s future economy development.

The Queensland Innovation Precincts and Places Strategy will help guide investments over the next 10 years that will accelerate Queensland’s innovation economy as part of the broader 2022-2032 Advance Queensland – Innovation for a Future Economy roadmap.

This strategy will also build upon, and leverage, the South East Queensland City Deal – a combined Australian Government, Queensland Government and South East Council of Mayors initiative – which recently set up a $150 million SEQ Innovation Economy Fund with a focus on igniting the region’s innovation precincts to deliver high-value, knowledge-intensive jobs.

Innovation places are where business, industry and researchers work together to bring new to ideas to life, create new technologies and then look to commercialise them.

In Queensland, they include places like the health-focused Translational Research Institute in Brisbane and the Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct and Toowoomba’s Ag-tech and Logistics Hub, which is laying the groundwork for an agtech industry in the state.

The Queensland Innovation Precincts and Places Strategy is a very carefully constructed economic strategy.

The Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport developed a discussion paper last year, which was put out for public consultation, with workshops held in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Townsville.

The Department engaged with more than 300 different stakeholders and organisations across the state.

It was noticeably clear that business, industry and research institutes and universities see innovation places as engines of innovation, critical to Queensland’s economic future.

A good example is the Translational Manufacturing Institute at the Translational Research Institute (TRI). The Queensland Government provided $20 million through the Queensland Jobs Fund last year to set up the institute which looks to fill a significant gap in Australia’s ability to manufacture emerging medical therapies in the quantities required for early-stage clinical trials.

It was also evident from the consultation that the desire was for a highly connected, engaged and collaborative system of innovation places that bring together the state’s economic strengths, assets, and people to generate world-leading products, services and businesses that deliver long-term economic growth and jobs for all Queenslanders.

And that innovation places bring together and are empowered by people, place and purpose.

With people – Queenslanders working together across disciplines, and even across geographic locations, with a common purpose in solving a major challenge through innovation.

A good example is the Queensland Government’s $5 million Advance Queensland Regional Futures initiative which funds collaborative projects that bring together regional innovators, entrepreneurs, researchers, investors, businesses and community leaders to develop tangible solutions to address a pressing regional innovation challenge.

With place, the strategy recognises the importance of physical assets and infrastructure that enable an innovation place to undertake its activities. Also – the importance of access and connectivity, including digital and virtual, in-person relationships and transport links.

With purpose – focusing innovation places around priority sectors and technologies where Queensland has a strength and a need, improving governance, and improving leadership and coordination between existing innovation precincts.

It’s important to recognise that the strategy doesn’t exist in isolation. It’s part of a broader economic roadmap for advancing the Queensland economy, including Our Industry Roadmaps, the Draft State Infrastructure Strategy, Queensland Advanced Manufacturing 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan, the proposed Workforce Strategy and the Climate Action Plan.

The Queensland Innovation Precincts and Places Strategy will build on the legacy of Smart State and the pathways being laid down by Advance Queensland to connect and grow Queensland’s existing, emerging and potential innovation places.

The Smart State era saw critical Queensland Government investment in the establishment of key scientific infrastructure throughout the state, producing a wealth of research and highly skilled university graduates.

Advance Queensland is about cultural transition, with a focus on entrepreneurship and innovation based on the research coming out of our universities and research institutes and the business acumen and smarts of the state’s incredibly talented graduates.

The Queensland Innovation Precincts and Places Strategy, in effect, marries the two.

World renowned immunologist and TRI CEO Professor Ian Frazer Queensland said Queensland had invested for some time in facilities to enable research of benefit to society.

“Investing in Innovation Places where the economic and social potential of the research can be realised through collaborations between researchers, investors and industry was a logical extension of the investments already made,” Professor Fraser said.

“The proposed investments in Innovation Places will create new industry and provide opportunities for development and employment of a skilled workforce locally in Queensland.”

Queensland Chief Entrepreneur Wayne Gerard has welcomed the addition of an Innovation Precincts and Places Strategy to further strengthen Queensland’s innovation ecosystem.

“This once again demonstrates remarkable foresight by the Queensland Government in positioning Queensland as a major global innovation hub,” Mr Gerard said.

“Collaboration is key. Problems and challenges can be better understood when people from diverse backgrounds bring their unique resources and skill sets to the table and work together as a team to develop solutions.

“This is at the heart of the Innovation Precincts and Places Strategy. As Chief Entrepreneur, I’m excited by the direction we’re heading in this state and really looking forward to the implementation of this strategy.”

The Advance Queensland Innovation Strategy is a key part of the Queensland Government’s Advance Queensland – Innovation for a Future Economy vision for the state.

The Innovation for a Future Economy sets out the state’s innovation priorities in the lead up to the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Brisbane.