2020 marks the 20th anniversary of the Precinct’s Institute for Glycomics at Griffith University, and Institute founder Professor Mark von Itzstein started on a high, by being named Gold Coast Citizen of the Year on Australia Day. Of course the year, and the celebrations didn’t quite go to plan.
We look forward to Australia Day 2021, with one of our Precinct’s favourite people, Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM, named Queensland Australian of the Year, and in the running for the nation’s top honour, capping off a stellar year for Queensland’s first quadriplegic doctor.
In between, much has happened in the Precinct and we can be sure that amidst the challenges, change and ‘pandemic pivoting’ that Australia is indeed the lucky country, and Queensland and the Gold Coast are the best places to be for a bright future, as GCHKP Strategic Advisory Group Chair Professor Mario Pinto reflects.
“For all the upheaval, and that very much includes our university sector, this pandemic year has brought research success, new partnerships and some business growth, and certainly heightened commercial interest in our Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct, beyond the COVID-19 horizon.
Who would have predicted that the pandemic would serve as a catalyst for increased interest in our Precinct?”
Probiotics-based biotech company Cluster Biotech moved into our Precinct in May, taking one of the new lab spaces at Cohort Innovation Space, and is already building new business. Compliance software start-up Virtual Mgr, also based at Cohort, turned the pandemic into an opportunity to pivot and even expand into the UK. Just a couple of ‘bright spots’.
Geography, stability and relative safety are strong attributes that will be more important than ever for our Precinct’s future success.
Social distancing has altered perspectives on company locations and remote working and only intensified the premium lifestyle appeal of the Gold Coast, as is evident by interstate and international company interest and reports of growing real estate sales through interstate migration, in the general absence of overseas migration and opportunities for international engagement.
Like other innovation precincts, we have a significant opportunity to build on renewed respect for science and research, and the appreciation of the value of our world-class Australian health system.
Given our healthcare assets and emerging and growing capability in advanced design and other Industry 4.0 technologies for future manufacturing, particularly in the area of medical technologies, our Precinct is well-placed to ride on a wave of interest and investment in the new economy, that will lead us through recovery and drive future growth.
Initiatives such as the Australian Government’s $1.5billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy and the focus on sovereign capacity and supply chain resilience, will assist us to partner with and attract innovative companies actively engaged in R&D, enrich and grow our existing innovation ecosystem, and enhance our impact.
Importantly, as an emerging Precinct, in a youthful city and relatively young nation, we genuinely represent a new horizon for global talent and innovative businesses, in a post-pandemic world.”
2020 Bright Spots
Well-earned recognition in this International Year of the Nurse
2020 could not have been a more appropriate year to dedicate to acknowledging the amazing work of nurses.
Here in the GCHKP, Griffith University celebrated its Nursing and Midwifery program ranking No 1 in Australia, and No 2 in the world!
Meanwhile, Gold Coast Health became the first full health service in Australia to win prestigious International Magnet recognition for Nursing and Midwifery services.
Dedicated Gold Coast University Hospital nurse and Professor of Emergency Care Julia Crilley OAM was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, alongside Griffith University Pro-Vice-Chancellor Health, Professor Sheena Reilly AM, who is a renowned paediatric health researcher.
COVID – health and research response
- Professor Michael Good AO, Principal Research Leader, Institute for Glycomics, past Chairman of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and Queensland Great was appointed to the National Covid-19 Health and Research Advisory Committee.
- Gold Coast University Hospital treated some of Australia’s first COVID-19 patients in late January, and completed major COVID training across the health service, including 250 clinical simulations in April alone.
- COVID 19 Clinical Research – researchers and clinicians have developed a world-first Precision Medicine Data Platform, including a COVID-19 dashboard, to help ICU clinicians make critical patient care decisions utilising artificial intelligence (AI). Start-up company Datarwe was awarded $1.5m Advance Queensland funding for platform and has set up a new data lab as Queensland’s new AI Hub for health at Cohort Innovation Space.
- COVID-19 vaccine and therapy research – there’s been extensive research into COVID-19 vaccines and therapies as well as pandemic impacts, including a multi-pronged Glycomics approach (which included a $200,000 investment by the Queensland Government and City of Gold Coast); $300,000 from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) awarded to Professor Nigel McMillan of Griffith’s Menzies Health Institute Qld for gene silencing (sRNA) technologies targeting COVID; and Professor Suresh Mahalingham, also of Menzies, partnering with a major Indian vaccines company to develop a live attenuated COVID vaccine.
Research, clinical trials, partnerships and developments
- Aerospace technology – Griffith University and Gilmour Space signed a major 5-year partnership that will see Low Earth Orbit satellites developed locally and launched to space by 2023, with extensive R&D anticipated in 3D printing and prototyping, sensor technology and AI, along with a range of student training opportunities.
- Clinical trials – The GCHKP accelerates as a clinical trial hub during COVID-19 – Griffith University’s Clinical Trial unit became the first location in the world to recruit patients for a multi-national rheumatology trial while screening the first patient in Australia for another multi-national trial. Griffith researchers were awarded a $2m grant from Queensland Cancer Council to expand ovarian cancer clinical trials., while other university scientists received $1.46m from the National Health and Medical Research Council for diagnostics and therapies for chronic fatigue syndrome. Gold Coast Health reported 94 active clinical trials and 151 research projects, including a world-first trial of a robotic arm brain aneurysm procedure and will co-lead a $2.3m trial into treatments for deadly sepsis.
- Medical technologies – materials science researchers developed new implantable electronics for use in brain stimulation and cardiac pacemakers; health technology researchers won the national iAwards 2020 Business Industry Solution of the Year with a device to better identify and treat pain, while another major biomedical engineering project is developing world-first artificial wrist ligament.
The $80m Proxima development by Evans Long was announced as a prestige integrated centre of excellence in child education and health – the first private commercial development in the GCHKP’s Lumina commercial cluster. Construction is set to start in the first half of 2021, with Sanctuary Learning Adventure named as the innovative operator of a special-needs focused childcare centre.