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New R&D Hub Launched in Queensland

The Queensland Government has launched the second of three regional science and innovation hubs in Gladstone. Under the government’s Partner Up Queensland Regional Science and Innovation Network, the hubs aim to provide people living in regional Queensland opportunities for skills development and establish local networks that will drive growth and development in the science sector and innovation economy throughout regional Queensland, jobs and the state’s economic recovery from COVID-19.

The Member for Gladstone and Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing stated that the Central Queensland Hub will be led by CQUniversity and will be supported by the Inspiring Australia STEM hub network, the Gladstone Connects team, Gladstone Regional Council, Australia Pacific LNG, Rio Tinto, StartUp Gladstone, Boyne Island Environmental Education Centre and the Coastal Marine Ecosystem Research Centre.

The Minister noted that the hub will be led by local science and innovation champions within the community; it is about giving mentoring, networking and collaboration opportunities; the engagement of youth in the design, implementation, product pitching and entrepreneurship; and engagement with researchers, technologies experts, business and Indigenous mentors.

The Science Minister for Queensland stated that each regional hub will be provided with funding of up to $70,000 over 12 months to employ a regional coordinator to support events, activities and projects that encourage Queenslanders’ participation and awareness of science and innovation within their region.

In total, three regional hubs will be established – in Gladstone, Toowoomba and Cairns – that will enable individuals and community groups to participate in a range of STEM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and innovation-related activities.

The Science Minister stated that 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.

Survey results from the 3M State of Science Index show that 9 in 10 Australians back more investment in science. These results indicate that during the pandemic, nearly two in three Australians thought that scientists and medical professionals are inspiring a new generation to pursue a science-based career.

Recent research commissioned by the Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist showed that 83% of Queenslanders believe science is critical for the Queensland economy. This is the reason the government is delivering these hubs, together with major investments like $20 million as part of our flagship Queensland Jobs fund to ramp up the development and manufacture of vaccines.

Queensland’s Innovation Minister stated the hubs would help to supercharge regional Queensland science and innovation. It was noted that 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, science and innovation will be critical to building regional Queensland’s industries and jobs of the future, the Innovation Minister added.

The Associate Vice-President for the CQU Gladstone Region welcomed the announcement and said that the campus-based at the Gladstone Marina was well-placed to deliver the initiative to the local community. He noted that CQUniversity Australia is a regional university with a national footprint and as a research institution is a benchmark leader in the field of university engagement with the community. The institution has developed strong relationships with industry and community and looks forward to leveraging this to develop and implement innovations that will benefit Gladstone and other areas in regional Queensland.

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. The network’s Central Queensland Hub launched at CQUniversity’s Gladstone Marina Campus on 3 May 2022. The Far North Queensland Hub will be launched at the Tropical Innovation Festival in Cairns in June 2022.

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